​​Forests are a multitrillion-dollar asset. Vibrant Planet bets SaaS can save them – TechCrunch

Living Planet — creating an “Operating System for Forest Restoration” – is a pleasant surprise that I didn’t expect.

Air conditioning technology, while relatively new, has split into two camps: hardware and software. And while Vibrant Planet is definitely a software game — from its cloud focus to its per-seat licenses, it’s SaaS through and through — its end goal differs from many others.

The startup this week announced a $17 million seed round, is not only trading in CO2 certificates or providing CO2 accounting software. It attempts to address a very real and very difficult problem – how to first save and then restore the world’s degraded forests.

As a landscape ecologist by training, I have become somewhat cynical that forest conservation and the free market can exist in a mutually beneficial relationship. From a market-oriented perspective, forests are either exploited or forgotten.

Still, Vibrant Planet clearly believes there is a chance to help the world manage a multi-trillion dollar fortune.

A landmark paper from 1997 estimated that forests provide annual global economic benefits of US$4.7 trillion, including freshwater, timber, nutrient cycling, erosion control and climate regulation. While there is no truly global way to adjust the dollar figure for inflation, it is essentially 15% of global GDP.

In theory, carbon credits aren’t a bad idea. In fact, they’re probably one of the least bad ideas we’ve tried when it comes to using free markets to promote forest conservation. In practice, however, they leave much to be desired.

Carbon credits are an attempt to bring forests into the economy. They are well intentioned, although I am skeptical of them. But more on that later, because while Vibrant Plant has a plan to work with carbon markets, it’s starting out on much firmer ground with fire-adapted forests.

And there’s plenty of that. Beginning in California and soon throughout the American West, wildfires are increasing in frequency and intensity. After that, Vibrant Planet Down Under could head to Australia, where eucalyptus forests, which have long coexisted with fire, burned catastrophically in the 2019-2020 fire season. It could even bring its product to Brazil and the Cerrado ecoregion, which has been traditionally farmed with fire for centuries.

Starting with fire-adapted forests is a smart move. For one, it lets Vibrant Planet test its product close to home in familiar and well-studied forests. But it also gives him the opportunity to address climate change more directly.

​​Forests are a multitrillion-dollar asset. Vibrant Planet bets SaaS can save them – TechCrunch Source link ​​Forests are a multitrillion-dollar asset. Vibrant Planet bets SaaS can save them – TechCrunch

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