Designed in 2016 by students at Berlin University of the Arts collaborating with programmers, Terra0 is a speculative innovation: a self-owned, autonomous forest. How can a forest own itself? The prototype forest manages itself according to rules embedded in its blockchain Smart Contract, which is hosted on a server named the Oracle. The contract specifies the times at which logging licenses are sold, at a price determined by an algorithm. As logs are sold, the forest automatically accumulates capital in the form of WoodTokens (a blockchain-based cryptocurrency). Eventually, self-utilization enables the forest to buy and “own” itself, expanding its (propertied) land base. The forest, as a technologically-augmented ecosystem, is thus also an economic actor. Terra0’s tagline (“on the blockchain, no one knows you’re a forest”) offers a vision of non-human agency that blurs the boundaries between digital innovation, art and environmental conservation. Blockchain is not, however, a neutral technology from a political economic perspective: is extending private property ownership to non-humans the best way to advance conservation goals? Terra0 ultimately seeks to decentralize property markets by incorporating a third-party, bringing to light the often forgotten stakeholder: the forest itself. Terra0 thus prompts us to query who (or what) is allowed control and agency within our environmental governance frameworks. 

Seidler, P., Kolling, P., & Hampshire, M. (2016). “Can an augmented forest own and utilise itself. Discussion Paper“.


Aesthetic/Leisure, Blockchain, Industry/Natural Commodities