Open forest protocol

Open Forest Protocol (OFP) is a blockchain-based open-source platform for the communal verification, reporting, and financing of forestry projects. OFP’s mission is to accelerate the global response to climate change through eco-friendly solutions. NEAR, as a climate-neutral blockchain with fast throughput and low transaction fees, was the ideal place to build their project, getting development support from the INC4 team.



Challenge

The client's idea was to build a product that would allow reforestation and afforestation projects, conservation organizations, and forest managers to easily measure, report, and verify (MRV) environmental data from their land. The current MRV landscape is expensive and inaccessible, inhibiting the establishment of a global carbon economy.
Open Forest Protocol has built a system for accessible and transparent forest MRV data, laying the foundation for an accelerated response to humanity's greatest existential threat.

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Challenge 1

The NEAR network had been launched just two months before we started work on OFP’s technical architecture and functionalities, therefore the main challenge that we faced was the risk of adopting a new technology that was largely untested, with a limited tech inventory and the ongoing development of basic capabilities, which were a must-have for the OFP to function as intended.

Despite these initial concerns, what NEAR had already developed was promising, we trusted the team, and the sustainability of the blockchain due to its proof-of-stake consensus mechanism was definitely a perfect match for the Open Forest Protocol. What’s more, it was (and still is) fast for transaction processing, and affordable in terms of network fees.
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Challenge 2

Another challenge was the need to be agile. Due to the urgency of the climate cause — this is a fast-developing industry — reforestation, afforestation, conservation mechanisms, and standards are constantly growing and improving. Such rapid progress exerted a direct influence on the protocol’s development, demanding flexibility and an instant response to any changes demanded by the technical team.
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Challenge 3

The last major challenge was the complexity of the product being built. MRV in the forestry, conservation, and carbon economy requires sophisticated data reporting standards, so both the product and the technical teams were striving to deliver comprehensive and, at the same time, concise interfaces that would cover the necessary scope of requirements.

All of this, while making sure the protocol would still be engaging and easy-to-use.

Solution

The INC4 Team was offered an exceptional opportunity to take up the technical development of blockchain smart contracts and all related products that form the OFP infrastructure, enabling the protocol’s users to perform their dedicated activities. INC4’s responsibilities regarding OFP development started from the UI/UX design of the protocol’s modules and ended with the final delivery of OFP’s smart contracts and user interfaces to the NEAR Ecosystem Mainnet.

Stage- The first stage of OFP’s development consisted of:

Technical architecture design and structuring of the system of smart contracts that would run the protocol

  • Core smart contract
  • Various token contracts

The most challenging part here was to design a flexible system of technical modules based on blockchain, meaning the data storage and validation would need to be decentralized.

Integration of decentralized storage solutions

Printed records of forestry data are located on the blockchain, ensuring data transparency and public accessibility.

Creation of an indexing service

OFP is intended for processing and storing huge amounts of data; therefore, indexing was also a considerable part of the Protocol’s architecture. The indexing service required quite a sophisticated design and technology integration, handling vast arrays of decentralized data and instantly deliver it to the user interfaces.

Stage- The second development stage was concentrated on the Project Dashboard:

Create a fully-functional environment for organizations or individual foresters.

Create records of their forestry and conservation initiatives.

Furnish them with a set of necessary functionalities to start an MRV project.

Report on its progress during the whole lifecycle, which can last up to 70 years.

The Project Module is heavily loaded with functionalities within the Protocol, meaning it required a lot planning and subsequent testing.

Stage- The third development stage was concentrated on the Forester app, a mobile application for foresters that collects forestry or conservation data on the development of trees that have already been planted. The application has to perform the following functions:

GEO-locate the necessary plot of land.

Input measurements data.

Take pictures of the trees.

Instantly send the array to the Project Dashboard.

Collect data into a consolidated report.

Send all data to decentralized storage with metadata hashed to the blockchain.

The challenging part of developing the Forester app was the GEO-location precision algorithm. We had to carefully impose limitations on the app so that foresters couldn't take a picture of any tree which is outside the plot of land being reported.

Stage- The fourth development stage covered the data validation, which was the final stage of the MRV project.

The validation process is complex and comprises several stages:

Voting works through validators, who stake a certain amount of OPN (NEP-141 NEAR standard fungible token) to either affirm the reported data or deny it, based on the results of his/her own check.

The larger total voting stake pool in favour of the verdict decides the validation result.

Validators are provided with the necessary set of interfaces to check the reporting data and compare it to the previous periods’ reports.

The algorithms that underly the voting module, processing of results, and distribution of validator rewards is the most complicated in terms of technical development.

Results

Today, we have the fully-operational first version of the Open Forest Protocol on NEAR.

OFP offers:

  • Measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) tools that are easily accessible through OFP’s Mobile App and Dashboards.
  • A high level of transparency for the forestation industry, by recording all data and transactions on the blockchain.
  • The Open Forest Protocol Explorer, where land plots as part of forestation projects are registered.

Services we provided

Full technical development cycle

  • Technical architecture design
  • Smart contracts development
  • UI / UX design
  • Back-End development
  • Front-End development
  • Decentralized storage solutions integration
  • Deploy development

Technologies

  • Golang
  • React.native
  • Rust
  • IPFS
  • MongoDB
  • Infura
  • Elasticsearch
  • Firebase
  • React.js
  • Sendgrid

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By working on complex projects such as this, our team has to show flexibility, a willingness to learn new things, strong fundamental knowledge, and problem solving skills. From architecture design and solving complexities to final production, each stage of production demonstrates how we act as a professional technical team, working step-by-step to produce the optimal application according to the client’s specific requirements.

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