‘Blockchain-powered’ reforestation company sparks major forest fire in Spain

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Dutch reforestation company Land Life, which reportedly uses blockchain verification, caused a second forest fire in Spain on Monday that has already destroyed 14,000 hectares (35,000 acres) of forest. Over 2,000 people had to be evacuated from the area.

A contractor planting trees on behalf of Land Life near Zaragoza, capital of north-eastern Aragon region in Spain, accidentally caused a forest fire at 4pm when a spark from a backhoe being used to dig holes struck a nearby bushes caught fire.

According to a statement from the company, the authorities were immediately alerted, but it was not enough to prevent the fire from spreading. No injuries were reported.

However, the Amsterdam-based company is facing backlash in Spain – the local government had issued a recommendation to avoid replanting trees in the area, which has been classified as a high risk of wildfires amid intense heat waves in Europe.

Land Life has acknowledged the criticism. Francisco Purroy, the company’s director for Spain and Portugal, said “strict preventive measures” have been put in place despite government warnings.

“Because of what happened, that’s clear one should not have worked then in this place,” he said (via Heraldo, our emphasis).

  • Land Life raised 3.5 million euros in a Series A financing round in 2018.
  • This year it said that “blockchain verification” would be applied to its planting practices.
  • However, their website doesn’t mention blockchain, instead saying that they are “currently developing new technologies.”

Second forest fire caused by Land Life in a month

Land Life has said it will launch an internal investigation as well as work with authorities in Spain. “We don’t want to evade responsibility,” Purroy said. “There will be a thorough investigation.”

“The million-dollar question is why these jobs were being done during these hot hours. In this context of climate change, no matter how much we may end up having all the papers, permits and everything in order It will be a lesson for all of us involved in reforestation projects‘ (our emphasis).

However, Land Life had caused a forest fire a month earlier. On June 20, it started a fire that destroyed 20 hectares. The company has not ceased operations.

More firefighters were deployed in the area yesterday to contain the flames.

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“It’s not good that it happened once and they kept working,” said Antonio Borque, mayor of nearby Bubierca. A representative from the Association of Agents for the Protection of Nature in Aragon (AAPNA) also told Heraldo he was surprised Land Life continued operations despite warnings.

“That [government] Recommendation should become the norm,” he commented. “If you can’t work until the hot hour is over, don’t work.”

It has planted nearly six million trees and restored over 6,000 hectares (15,000 acres) of land, according to Land Life’s website. However, the two wildfires it caused last month have destroyed over 14,000 hectares, or 35,000 acres – a landmass larger than the entire city of Barcelona.

Protos has reached out to Land Life to clarify the use of blockchain verification and will update this article if they respond.

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