‘Blockchain-based’ reforestation company starts 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’s already destroyed 14,000 hectares of forest (35,000 acres). Over 2,000 people have had to be evacuated from the area.

A contractor planting trees on behalf of Land Life near Zaragoza, the capital of Spain’s northeastern Aragon region, unintentionally caused a forest fire at 4pm when a spark from a backhoe used to dig holes ignited nearby shrubbery.

According to a statement by the company, authorities were immediately alerted, but it wasn’t enough to stop the blaze from spreading. No injuries have been reported.

However, the Amsterdam-based company is facing backlash in Spain — local government had issued a recommendation to avoid replanting trees in the area, which was labelled as high risk for forest fires amid intense heatwaves sweeping Europe.

Land Life has acknowledged the criticism. Francisco Purroy, the company’s director for Spain and Portugal, said that “strict preventive measures” were taken despite the government’s warnings.

“Due to what happened, it’s clear that one should not have been working at that time in that place,” he said (via Heraldo, our emphasis).

  • Land Life raised 3.5 million euros in a Series A funding round in 2018.
  • That year, it said “blockchain verification” would be applied to its planting practices.
  • However, its website makes no mention of blockchain but that it’s “currently developing new technologies.”

Second forest fire caused by Land Life in a month

Land Life has announced it will launch both an internal investigation as well as in collaboration with authorities in Spain. “We do not want to avoid responsibility,” Purroy said. “There will be a thorough investigation.”

“The million dollar question is why those jobs were done in those hot hours. In this context of climate change, no matter how much we can have all the papers, authorisations, and everything in order, in the end it will be a lesson learned for all of us who are involved in reforestation projects,” (our emphasis).

However, Land Life had already caused a forest fire a month prior. On June 20, it sparked a blaze which took out 20 hectares. The company didn’t cease operations. 

Yesterday, more firefighters were deployed in the region to help contain the flames.

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

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

According to Land Life’s website, it has planted almost six million trees and restored over 6,000 hectares of land (15,000 acres). However, the two forest fires it has caused in the past month have taken out over 14,000 hectares or 35,000 acres — a land mass larger than the entire city of Barcelona.

Protos has reached out to Land Life to clarify its use of blockchain verification and will update this piece should it reply.

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