New Blockchain Solution Underway to Help Save Biodiversity
An Australian-led consortium which includes CSIRO and Data61 has begun developing a global blockchain solution designed to radically increase humanity’s connection with nature and biodiversity.
The project, called BioCoin.Life, seeks to increase plant and animal observations around the world, while rewarding people’s ability to map, discover and describe the natural world.
“When you think of blockchain and digital currencies,” says Andrew Robinson, CEO of QuestaGame, a biodiversity technology company and a partner in the BioCoin.Life project, “you don’t usually think of the environment or social causes. But blockchain, combined with reward mechanisms, has the potential to provide a trusted, decentralised system that encourages people to learn about, care about, and value biodiversity.”
The project, first announced at a conference in Adelaide in September 2017, arose out of QuestaGame’s experiments in scoring and rewarding nature observations - a kind of “Pokemon GO for real life.” QuestaGame, which was recently selected as a finalist for Australia’s top science award, the Eureka Prize, was itself inspired by large biodiversity data repositories such as the Atlas of Living Australia (www.ala.org.au) and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF.org).
The BioCoin.Life project seeks to address some critical issues facing the environment. For example, scientists have shown that biodiversity is declining at the highest rate in 66 million years. Meanwhile, roughly 80% of the world’s species are still undescribed by science, which means that many species will disappear forever without any knowledge of them.
“Lots of groups are working to develop a global map of biodiversity as quickly as possible,” says Robinson, “but it’s mostly based on volunteerism. Which is fine - because humans have a innate connection to nature and lots of people enjoy contributing to a social good. But if we’re going to reverse the rate of biodiversity decline, it’s important to develop incentives that motivate mainstream participation.”
As a blockchain solution, BioCoin.Life will provide an immutable, transparent record of plant and animal observations made by the public. The resulting BioCoin “token” will use open API technology and be available to any citizen science project involved in recording biodiversity.
A non-profit foundation, with an advisory panel of leading biodiversity researchers around the world, will steer the resulting platform to ensure rewards mechanisms are designed to benefit scientific research and conservation.
For more information, contact Andrew Robinson, http://questagame.com/andrew, or Tom Durick of CSIRO.