Regen Network Q1 2020 Update

A look back on 2019, and what’s to come in 2020.

Regen Network
Jan 23, 2020 · 13 min read

It’s one month into the new decade, and the energy around 2020 environmental solutions is palpable. Huge corporations like Microsoft, BlackRock, Starbucks are making billion-dollar climate change investments a priority to their business. In the hurdle of environmental development, regenerative agriculture is making headlines, and Regen Network is making great progress as part of the solution. Amidst looking forward to a new year of potential ahead, we’re taking a moment to reflect on what brought us to this point in our company.

Read on to learn how our team progressed in 2019, our second year as Regen Network.

Platform Developments

Regen Network is building a platform that makes scientifically verifiable and fully auditable ecosystem services contracts, including issuing cryptographically-secure ecosystem service credits, so that farmers, ranchers, and other land managers can be recognized and paid for their positive ecological practices. Utilizing a suite of emerging technologies, we bring funders, producers, and verifiers together to increase revenue and margins on the back of verified ecological outcomes. Our ecosystem service credits, registry, and exchange are raising the bar of trust and transparency, enabling all parties to know and audit the claims that these credits represent real and positive ecological impact.

During the Techstars and Nature Conservancy Sustainability Accelerator, farmers and land stewards expressed interest in our platform by registering over 177 farmers on 4.7 million acres of farm and conservation lands with our system. Our product development team is developing a land and credit registry reference application for listing land parcels, ecological protocols and verification events, credit issuance, and contracting that will serve this community of farmers.

Farmers, we are ready to hear from you. If you are a land steward interested in compensation for positive ecological changes (improving water quality, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, or soil health) on your land, sign up so you can hear from us when we are ready to bring you into our piloting process. This applies to farmers if you implement regenerative practices on your land: no-till, cover cropping, crop rotation, buffer strips, riparian protection, agroforestry, perennial integration, rotational grazing, and more.

Pilot Projects

Over the past year, Regen Network conducted a pilot program looking at a broad set of ecological contracting and monitoring applications. What emerged out of this broad pilot process was the need for a different type of ecosystem service credit; a credit that honors the unique contextual nature of each place and allows transparency and auditability that simply is not present in the current markets. Here are some of the pilots:

Rainforest FoundationConservation Funding for Frontline Communities | Peruvian Amazon

  • The Problem: Indigenous community protection on the frontlines is imperative to protecting the Amazon rainforest, but communities usually a) lack the resources to pay consultants to verify their work, and b) sophisticated and expensive verification systems take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop and certify.
  • Our Solution: Working with the Rainforest Foundation US, we will dramatically increase the scale of investment to frontline forest protectors and produce results that will have a global impact on our climate working.

Eco Cacao — Regenerative Cacao | Ecuador

  • The Problem: Unlike Organic and Fair Trade standards, there are no well-established regenerative agriculture standards yet, nor the verification methods necessary to entice buyers into paying premiums that compensate and motivate local farmers to adopt such practices.
  • Our Solution: Working with an Ecuadorian cacao collective, we will dramatically increase farmer financial support in order to shift current conventional agricultural management practices to regenerative ones, rejuvenate tropical agroecosystems, stop deforestation, and improve rainforest health.

Walkers Reserve — Conservation Funding to Regenerate Land | Barbados

  • The Problem: To complete the conversion of a decommissioned 300-acre sand quarry into a vibrant food forest that actively regenerates the coastline, Walkers Reserve requires steady funding that comes from verified actions.
  • Our Solution: Working with Walkers Reserve, we are dramatically increasing the scale of investment to thriving regeneration and increased carbon sequestration, and will produce results that impact our climate on a global scale.

Fibershed — Carbon Credits with Vineyards | Northern California

  • The Problem: Fibershed, an innovative nonprofit based in Northern California, is developing regional and regenerative fiber systems that connect regenerative farmers to regenerative grazers. The challenge is that regenerative farming and grazing require more resources, so farmers and grazers need incentives in order to adopt those practices. Carbon credits are one way to gain these incentives, but the challenge is the cost of getting these make it prohibitive and not profitable for most.
  • Our Solution: The development of automated remote sensing protocols for the verification of certain grazing based practices that are correlated to carbon sequestration and the future production of low-cost, voluntary carbon credits.

We now have organizations and farmers approaching us asking how they can participate in the program.

Thus, we are building a credit registry and are designing an innovative low-cost credit leveraging remote sensing technology for streamlined monitoring and verification. Those, in turn, will be sold on our platform to governments and corporations looking to reduce their carbon emissions and/or support the environment and local producers. Our solution provides the data integrity, the credit registry, the credit design, the marketplace and the interface that tracks the progress of each project.

The projects in our pipeline include:

Odonata/Wide Open Agriculture — Biodiversity Credits | Australia (Victoria, Western Australia)

  • The Problem: Though the Australian government has recognized the importance of biodiversity and has passed regulations supporting biodiversity credits, the compliance requirements needed to satisfy those credits make it a non-starter for most land stewards and project developers. Further, even once those credits are issued, the ability of potential buyers to acquire information about them is quite restricted thereby really constricting the market for these credits.
  • Our Solution: Working with two cutting edge conservation and agriculture organizations in eastern and western Australia — Odonata and WOA (Wide Open Agriculture, a subsidiary of Commonland) — we are building a credit registry and enabling 3rd parties to create innovative credits on them. In this case, we enable new biodiversity credits, largely mimicking the regulatory ones in terms of the ecological protocol followed but minimizing the compliance head over. These are issued to Odonata/WOA for conservation projects under their management. Those, in turn, are sold on our platform to prospective buyers looking to reduce their negative biodiversity impact. Our solution provides the underlying blockchain data infrastructure that guarantees data integrity, the credit registry, the marketplace and the dashboard interface that tracks the progress of each project.

Impact Ag — Carbon Credit | New South Wales, Australia

  • The Problem: Managed grazing can be a powerful tool to sequester carbon into our soils. The challenge is that managed grazing requires more work and funds so ranchers need incentives in order to adopt those practices. Carbon credits are one way to get these incentives but the challenge is the cost of getting these make it prohibitive and not profitable for most ranchers.
  • Our Solution: We are working to issue low-cost voluntary carbon credits to holistic management ranchers in Australia. Specifically, we are working with Impact Ag Partners and Wilmot Cattle Company who manage over 75k acres across multiple properties in New South Wales. Read about the progress we have made through our work with Impact Ag and Wilmot Cattle company in Dr. Gisel Booman’s latest science blog!

To accelerate the process of market adoption, over the next 12–18 months, Regen Network will add an additional set of case studies with farmers and ranchers that explore and validate a set of high-utility ecological protocols across various ecoregions.

Monitoring + Data Science

Dr. Gisel Booman continues to lead our Science Team on important work to classify and verify changes in ecosystem health.

  • Ecological Indicators: Our Science Team is in the process of developing monitoring protocols for assessing changes in ecosystems. We are constantly reviewing our methods and finding new ways to perform monitoring because as we build our product, we want to produce the most scientifically robust information. One of the first steps is to identify the best indicators that can be monitored cost-efficiently and accurately through the different ecoregions and land uses. We have defined two main groups of indicators depending on the essence: (1) Short Term-Assessment Indicators, which are land management practices that can be monitored through remote sensing and show changes towards (or against) land regeneration within 1 year; and (2) Long Term-Assessment Indicators, which are the outcomes of the land management practices, and need longer periods of time (2–5 years) to show noticeable changes in soil parameters and environmental health.
  • Soil Organic Carbon: Temperate grasslands cover approximately 3.4 billion acres of our planet, yet measuring their soil health has proved to be an exhaustive problem in the past due to the cumbersome process and costly, time-consuming methods. Our Science Team dared to explore remote sensing methods to combat this issue in hopes of creating tools to grow the carbon credit marketplace — and so far, it’s looking good! Through our Pilot Project with Impact Ag and Wilmot Cattle Company’s holistically-grazed grasslands in Australia, we have found a high positive correlation between soil organic carbon (SOC) and Sentinel-2 bands. This correlation allows us to build highly-detailed maps (10m resolution) for the variations of SOC in these two farms. This means we are close to being able to monitor topsoil organic carbon from satellites in temperate grasslands, reducing at least an order of magnitude the number of samples required for the high standards imposed by carbon markets. Read the full report on this case in Dr. Booman’s recent blog.

This assessment has inspired many organizations seeking to reduce costs for verification of increases in carbon sequestration rates, including Savory Institute, Cool Farm Alliance, and more. We are starting a pilot in Patagonia, Argentina with Savory to transition our work in Australia around carbon sequestration quantification for ranches using holistic management, and are in discussion around two more pilots in New South Wales, Australia, to expand monitoring capacity to larger areas covered by protected grasslands and agricultural land. This technology has huge potential for monitoring soil carbon, as global temperate grassland areas have similar conditions and would likely correlate to the satellite sensors, too.

  • We have been able to monitor grazing by sheep in California vineyards from satellite by assessing abrupt NDVI changes from pastures.
  • We are helping our friends from Terra Genesis International and the UOPROCAE Co-Operative to develop tools that verify polyculture cacao plantations in Ecuador. So far, we have been able to classify Sentinel-2 satellite images for separating monocultures from polycultures, and other land covers with great accuracy (more than 90%).
  • No-Till: One of the key management practices to reduce runoff, soil loss, and erosion in agricultural lands is no-tilling or partial tilling. Cover crops have also proven beneficial for soil health, taking the place of chemical fertilizers. As a result, water quality and distribution of the whole watershed can be improved, and the flood risk for downstream communities can be reduced. We are partnering with Applied Geosolutions to build capacity to monitor these two best management practices through the Optis algorithms in the US and other countries as well.
  • Nutrient Runoff: Nutrient runoff can be modeled in agricultural watersheds through different GIS tools and hydrogeological models. Inputs include land cover maps, soil maps, topographic maps, and nutrient export coefficients for the different land management practices that need to be specified and included in the land cover maps. By monitoring changes in the land cover and land management practices, changes in the nutrients loads during storm events can also be mapped.
  • Riparian Buffer Zones: Riparian buffer zones can be delineated in GIS according to legislation, and then the changes in land cover within those limits can be assessed from periodic land cover classifications.
  • Building Maps: One of our longer-term goals is to build a global regenerative scenario map, and a potential carbon sequestration global map. In order to achieve this, we have already compiled and mapped information on the mean carbon sequestration rates for each regenerative practice in the different ecoregions and countries that have been published in the Carbon Farming Solution Book and other scientific reports elsewhere. What’s next? Taking this to the higher resolution level by identifying the main constraints for different regenerative practices to be applied in the different ecoregions and biomes. Considering soils, slopes, climate, and other conditioners for which we already have global maps, we can build several scenarios, based on different levels of adoption of regenerative practices. We consider this a mandatory outcome from our work, as it can be inspiring as well as very useful for building culture and knowledge around the adoption of the different regenerative practices. This map would also allow estimating potential revenues for farmers all over the world depending on their carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services they could provide to the markets.

Development

Ethan Frey and Marie Gauthier are our newest team members focused on blockchain development. Alongside CTO Aaron Craelius, Marie and Ethan are working to strengthen our digital community and work toward the launch of our mainnet in March or April of 2020.

In 2019, the Dev Team had a number of important advances.

First, we launched and completed an incentivized testnet where upgrade functionality was deployed.

We then merged the upgrade module into Cosmos SDK. You can track developments by staying updated on this Telegram channel.

We developed a keystone partnership with Chorus One, one of the most well known and highly professional Proof-of-Stake Validator businesses in the emerging ecosystem of staking service providers. Chorus One’s deep involvement signals confidence in the development roadmap and team assembled by Regen Network.

Our validator community launched a validator led a community testnet, spearheaded by ChorusOne and Chainflow. You can view the launch here.

We also made substantial progress on the ICF Key Management grant. With both a working SDK to develop smart contracts and a module that integrates with any Cosmos SDK application is mostly finished in the CosmWasm repository, we anticipate a final product that is useful to add a smart contracting language and runtime to any Cosmos SDK based application for anyone in the ecosystem that is interested.

CosmWasm launched! Ethan continues to build this new library with the web assembly integration team. CosmWasm allows for high-level extraction to execute smart contracts. By adding these web assembly smart contracts into the Cosmos SDK, users are able to write smart contracts in languages such as Rust. A template currently exists to quickly start building a contract for users to try. If you are interested in contract building examples or CosmWasm in general, contact Ethan on Telegram. For more information on the implementation details or surrounding tooling, check GitHub or reach out to Ethan on Telegram.

In 2020, our team is looking forward to ecosystem service credit fractional NFT issuance, completion of key management work, and an exciting main net launch at the end of Q1.

Community

Regen Network had many exciting new developments in our community side, including becoming a Keeling Curve Prize finalist, joining the OpenTEAM cohort to help contribute to their open-source climate & soil health tools, publishing our newest economics paper, welcoming CEO/Founder of Tendermint and All In Bits, Inc. Jae Kwon as an advisor.

Gregory and Aaron spent time at Full Node Berlin at the Interchain Foundation Conversations and Cosmos Hackathon event. Regen Network’s CTO Aaron Craelius teamed up with the team leads of other projects in the Cosmos ecosystem like TruStory, IOV, Althea, and Wallet Connect to win the Cosmos Hackathon. Their work integrated a WASM VM with Rust smart contracts into the Cosmos SDK and linked it to permissions management tools creating a powerful system “like Ethereum but easier to work with,” according to Jehan, the founder of Althea.

Part of our year was spent at the Techstars + Nature Conservancy Sustainability Accelerator in Denver, Colorado — a program that is harder to get into than Havard. We were chosen alongside 9 other incredible companies to participate in this 3-month program under the great minds of Zach Nies, August Ritter, Hannah Davis, and peer mentors, ultimately culminating in changes throughout our company and a polished pitch that Christian presented at Demo Night. You can read more into our experience in CEO Christian Shearer’s blog on our acceleration.

We hosted all kinds of fun community interactions, ranging from online AMA’s, Community Dev Calls, updates from the CEO, and many in-person events. Being able to interact with each and every one of you is a joy, and we love hearing your feedback and advice as we continue to steer forward.

Fundraising

Over 2019, we held our first rounds of fundraising. Here’s a quick snapshot:

Following that round, we began our private token sale. In Phase 1, we raised $1.15 million through investments from over 20 investors including our Interchain Foundation (works with Regen Network through service contracts, key management, and live upgrade modules), Ethan Buchman (co-founder of Cosmos and Executive Director at the Interchain Foundation), Brian Crane (host of the Epicenter Podcast and one of the founders of the Chorus One validator), and Supersystemic.ly (a Brooklyn-based think-tank and angel investment firm dedicated to increasing humanity’s readiness for the emergence of superintelligent entities through the study and spread of “supersystemic” perspectives and innovations). 95% of our investors have chosen the 3-year lock-up period, which says to us that there is confidence in the long-term outlook of our product. In Phase 2, which just started recently, we are targeting $5 million.

We’ve added two new members to the fundraising team, Sara Johnstone (Investor Relations) or Sarah Baxendell (Director of Philanthropic Partnerships).

We’re proud of the progress we’ve made in 2019 in platform development, pilot projects, monitoring and data science, development, community, and fundraising. There is a lot more work ahead of us, and for now we are heads-down to get to mainnet launch. It sure helps to have all the community support. We appreciate you and all the ways that you have contributed to the support of this work.

Regen Network Development

Platform for a Thriving Planet

Regen Network Development

Regen Network aligns economics with ecology to drive regenerative land management. Learn more: https://regen.network. This blog is published by RND inc, the development company building Regen Network

Regen Network

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A blockchain network of ecological knowledge changing the economics of regenerative agriculture to reverse global warming.

Regen Network Development

Regen Network aligns economics with ecology to drive regenerative land management. Learn more: https://regen.network. This blog is published by RND inc, the development company building Regen Network