These ‘Utility NFTs’ Look to Gamify Rainforest Protection

At first glance, “The AEternals,” a collection of 10,000 non-fungible tokens (NFT) focused on protecting the Amazon rainforest, sounds like it might belong in the business of planting trees to cancel out carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The project is actually more about exploring the possibilities of NFTs.

The recent NFT bull run, which was mostly about digital artworks and sports collectibles, is probably just a scratch on the surface of what’s possible with the technology. So-called utility NFTs are now expanding beyond things like decentralized finance (DeFi) and into enterprise uses like supply chain track-and-trace.

“We saw that NFTs could be anything, and became curious as to whether they could be more than one thing,” said Lucia Gallardo, CEO of Emerge, the project behind AEternals NFTs. “As well as being artful and collectible, could NFTs have utility? Can you gamify them and make them more interactive,” she said in an interview with CoinDesk.

Gallardo said that AEternals NFTs are available through the Winklevoss-owned Nifty Gateway and offer token holders a real-time connection with plots of virgin forest.

Gallardo explained that it is possible for it to rain on one part of the forest and it to rain on another.

The NFTs also grow and evolve over time, a process fueled by the owner’s engagement in game playing or by participating in social-impact community events or donating to a charity like Rainforest Partnership.

Gallardo stated that this adds financial sovereignty to NFT. Unlike floor prices being set by NFT platforms, the owner decides how to develop their plot before it is sold. More evolved plots are valued differently.

But rendering and minting metamorphic, three-dimensional NFTs on Ethereum takes a lot of power.

Gallardo stated that the project has reduced its carbon emissions by 64 tonnes of CO2 and is also recycling heat to make the collection available to provide hot showers for almost 41,000 social housing units in France.

Could there be other base layers of blockchain that are a better fit for your project?

“We do sometimes get asked why we went with Ethereum as opposed to some other protocol that’s touting mechanisms that are more environmentally friendly,” said Gallardo. “While we can’t completely cut all carbon emissions from this project we have done a huge amount to lessen them. In the end, we wanted a protocol that people who are new to this space could trust.”

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