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$10M in prize money for mapping rainforest biodiversity

27 / 11 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

Efforts to catalog the fast-declining biodiversity of tropical rainforests just got a $10 million boost via a new competition from XPRIZE, an organization that has more than a dozen competitions on topics ranging from spaceflight to oil cleanup over the past 25 years. Last week, XPRIZE formally unveiled the $10 million Rainforest XPRIZE to catalyze development of “technology capable of identifying and cataloging rainforest biodiversity” that can underpin the emergence of new bioeconomy based on the value of standing forests as heathy and productive ecosystems. Lowland rainforest in Indonesian Borneo as seen by drone. Photo by Rhett A. Butler. XPRIZE hopes the initiative will help address the perceived value gap between living and felled rainforest. At present, standing rainforest is generally viewed as less economically valuable than clearing the land for agriculture, timber, or plantations, but many of the services afforded by healthy forests — from carbon sequestration to water provision to biodiversity — are unaccounted for. “Despite their importance in supporting life on Earth, rainforests are undervalued because we simply do not yet know everything that exists in this ancient ecosystem,” said Executive Director of the Rainforest XPRIZE Jyotika Virmani, in a statement. “I’m excited to see the innovative technologies that will emerge from this competition and give us a better assessment of the incredible biodiversity. Our goal is for the Rainforest XPRIZE to provide new understanding and reveal the true potential of the standing forest, allowing local communities to lead the way for all of us to live…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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