Is a Miracle Tree the Key for Climate Change?
By Sandro Küng, Lykke Communications team
During my last trip to Southeast Asia I met Lykke’s Natural Capital Markets director Alan Laubsch in Bangkok for a beer. After discussions about the future of our planet in light of the Trump regime, Alan introduced his ideas for reinventing money backed by natural systems. “Think Bitcoin but backed by trees. We are working with an NGO to launch TREEs as digital token which represents living mangrove trees and carbon credit rights. TREE is a currency with a purpose.”
On mentioning that I will travel to Myanmar, Alan suggested that I should meet Arne Fjørtoft, the founder of the Worldview International Foundation (WIF) in Yangon.
Yangon, February 15, WIF head office. Meeting with WIF founder Dr. Arne Fjørtoft and chairman U Aye Lwin. Two wise men who have achieved a lot in their lives and still are dedicated to important projects in an age, most people are retired for decades. Me and my partner Cathrin were invited for lunch and provided with a lot of information about the project, the Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park. Arne Fjørtoft invited us to the beach house and to visit the park. So we left Yangon the other day for a 6 hours drive via Pathein and Chaung Tha to the guest house at the mangrove park in the Irrawaddy delta. There we met project manager U Win Maung and his staff, research manager Joacim and professor Htay. In front of the beach house was a long, sandy beach just for the two of us. Snorkeling a few meters off the beach we saw living colourful corals, countless fishes and amazing underwater life forms.
The Irrawaddy delta is a vast alluvial floodplain. The delta spans over 35,000 km2 and was once home to an extensive tract of mangrove forests, but deforestation has changed the landscape. One scientific study estimated that the delta lost 1,685 km2 1978 to today, that means 86% of its mangrove forests. Deforestation represents 20% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions. The Irrawaddy delta was hit by severe storms every 2-3 years in the last decade with devastating consequences. We passed by Nyaung Yar twice, a notorious slum in a township on Yangon’s northwestern outskirts. Nyaung Yar’s population swelled when cyclone Nargis devastated the delta in 2008, killing an estimated 138,000 people and displacing millions. Mangroves offer a multitude of benefits, both for the environment and for people. As guardians of the shoreline, mangroves reduce the impacts from storms and tsunamis. Their dense and partially submerged root system protects inland areas from erosion and flooding.
We were impressed by the truly sustainable project the climate park team is committed to. The project includes education at local schools, offering alternative income for locals to mangrove wood such as teak seedlings, effective stove kits and – of course – for planting mangroves in the climate park workers get paid $5 per day, twice the average wage in the region.
Mangrove is a gift of nature - reducing the effect of global warming and protecting life. During our stay the researchers measured the capacity of the mangrove trees to restore carbon dioxide: the result was amazing, about 50% of its biomass is carbon. WIF started the project in 2015 and has planted 2.7 million trees so far. The organization’s goal is challenging: Planting one billion mangroves in Myanmar, and billions more globally to reverse decades of losses. But how can WIF finance that much nursing and planting work? The solution lies in Blockchain technology. It cost only one US dollar to capture one ton CO2 from the atmosphere by working with nature. According to scientists, reducing CO2 climate gases in the atmosphere is necessary to avoid a tipping point while long term emission reductions are in progress. Heyerdahl Climate Pioneers (TREE) is a digital token that represents a living mangrove tree and carbon rights. Pioneering Blockhain technology empowers climate action with the touch of a button.
Become a pioneer by planting mangrove trees for a sustainable future!