Y Media Labs’ ‘Firewatch’ NFT Collective Aims To Combat Environmental Wildfires


Christos Makridis,

Read this article on Forbes. 



An annual average of 70,072 wildfires have burned 7 million acres since 2000—more than double the average annual acreage burned in the 1990s, according to a recent Congressional Budget Office report.

“Average fire events in regions of the United States are up to four times the size, triple the frequency, and more widespread in the 2000s than in the previous two decades… the most extreme fires are also larger, more common, and more likely to co-occur with other extreme fires,” according to a recent study published in Science Advances.

In a pioneering step forward to use non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for social good, YML, a digital innovation agency, just announced the launch of an NFT collection called FIREWATCH that aims to promote education, awareness, and preventative behavior to address the expansion of forest fires and environmental degradation in California. Each NFT corresponds with a parcel of land, priced anywhere from $100 to $100,000 based on the region.

All NFT revenues on the initial sale and 50% of the secondary sales will go towards supporting One Tree Planted, a non-profit organization dedicated to global reforestation. “One Tree Planted specifically sought out regional projects across California that focus on diverse, preventative measures for forest fires, ranging from forest fuels reduction to prescribed fire, reforestation, and biomass utilization activities, and which affect everything from biodiversity, to watersheds, to indigenous groups,” said Ashish Toshniwal, CEO and founder of YML.

“When we were first approached by FIREWATCH, I was just amazed by the out-of-the-box thinking and those are the type of solutions we need. If we’re going to address the world’s climate problems, we need to think out of the box. We need to be creative, we need to innovate. And that’s exactly what FIREWATCH is doing,” said Kyleigh Hughes, California project manager at One Tree Planted.

By purchasing an NFT, holders will not only have digital art that corresponds to the parcel of land that they may intrinsically care about, but also, and much more importantly, contribute towards a new model of potential social philanthropy.

The NFT collection counters the criticism that blockchain is environmentally harmful. “It’s exciting to see Firewatch utilize NFTs on Solana to mobilize community and action around climate change,” said Amira Valliani, policy lead at the Solana Foundation. “NFTs are becoming an increasingly popular way for communities to come together around shared causes. Solana’s advantages as an eco-friendly, low-cost chain make it an excellent home for projects like these,” Valliani said.

One of the major reasons behind environmental degradation is what economists refer to as the “tragedy of the commons.” Because the bulk of wildfires take place on public lands, no single person has an incentive to ensure the health of the land. However, by assigning tokens to different plots of land, NFTs have the potential to create implicit property rights. “Double and triple counting of carbon saved is a major headache in this space. Hence, verifiable, open-source tokens on carbon saved either via power plants that generate renewables or forests that provide carbon sinks could revolutionize climate finance,” said Shivaram Rajgopal, professor at Columbia Business School.

Such an approach to social philanthropy has the potential to unite more left-leaning activists with conservatives, who may tend to be opposed to traditional environmental protection measures, because of the focus on decentralization and property rights.



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