Photo: Sergio Pitamitz
Brazil company Nemus is selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to allow buyers to sponsor the preservation of specific jungle areas of the Amazon rainforest and fund its conservation. Nemus owns 410 square kilometers (158 square miles) of the Amazon.
NFTs, which became popular last year, are cryptocurrency assets with a unique digital signature that guarantees they are one of a kind.
Other efforts to fund conservation via NFTs include a South African wildlife reserve plan.
On Friday, Nemus began selling NFTs, granting buyers sponsorship of different sized tracts of the forest. The proceeds will be going to the preservation of the trees, regeneration of clear-cut areas, and fostering sustainable development.
Token holders will have exclusive access to information about the preservation of the land, such as satellite imagery and licensing, but will not own the land itself, Nemus founder Flavio de Meira Penna said.
He said Nemus had sold 10% of an initial offer of tokens for 8,000 hectares on the first day.
“My guess is this will accelerate rapidly in coming weeks,” Penna told Reuters. He added that blockchain technology would ensure transparency in using the funds.
Available plots vary from a quarter of a hectare to 81 hectares (0.6 to 200 acres) and buyers will be able to locate these plots with online maps.
Penna said that prices for the plots range from $150 for the smallest and $51,000 for the largest. A goal of $4 million to $5 million has been set by Nemus in order to buy an additional 2 million hectares of land already under negotiation in the municipality of Pauini in Amazonas state.
The funds would also support sustainable development efforts like the harvest of acai berries and Brazil nuts by local communities in Pauini, which is about the size of Belgium, Penna added.
The NFTs come with an artwork of an Amazon plant or animal that will be processed by San Francisco-based Concept Art House, a content developer and publisher for NFTs.
Environmental advocates and environmentalists have questioned the value of NFTs because using blockchain technology requires intense computing power and drives up demand for electricity generation that releases climate-warming greenhouse gasses.
Penna dismissed that view, saying preservation of threatened areas of the Amazon outweighs the environmental cost of NFT transactions.