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Technology

Enlist blockchain to boost conservation

Blockchain technology stands to improve governance of the environment and of renewable energy (see G. Chapron Nature 545, 403–405; 2017 and M. Andoni et al. Nature 548, 158; 2017). It could also facilitate peer-to-peer fundraising donations to transform nature conservation, which is drastically underfunded.

Cryptocurrency transactions are instant and transparent. They do not require bank accounts and international exchange fees are small. Donations can be sent directly to individuals or projects worldwide, rather than being collected, pooled and distributed by organizations. This encourages donors because the blockchain tracks the impact of donations.

By removing funding barriers, anyone can do conservation work — from restoring urban ecology to preventing conflicts between humans and wildlife. With a greater number and variety of conservationists and natural spaces, such small participatory efforts will be amplified through social networks.

Peer-to-peer conservation will not solve issues such as the ivory trade, could enable fraudulent or counterproductive projects, and may result in a bias towards flagship species. Yet it can still make an important contribution.

Some 50 years after the launch of the World Wide Fund for Nature, the blockchain now allows us to put a nature fund in every pocket.

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Correspondence to Zachary Baynham-Herd.

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Baynham-Herd, Z. Enlist blockchain to boost conservation. Nature 548, 523 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/548523c

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