When Digital Nomads and Forests Converge in Portugal
Imagine a living space rich in plants, light, and air; healthy, fresh food is abundant, and sustainability permeates every aspect of the home. Surrounded by nature and dozens of other like-minded friends, you’ve formed a community of climate awareness and collaboration. Together, you care for the Earth in an effortless dance of synchronicity, health, and balance. Now, imagine that these living spaces exist throughout the world, from Thailand to Costa Rica, Portugal to South Africa. This is the vision of OASA.
Accessing accurate monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) for the forests and tree growth surrounding regenerative living structures is pertinent to maintaining a healthy environment, thriving atmosphere, and proof of sustainability. The value of truthful data is non-negotiable in ensuring a full understanding of the impact of trees. OASA, an Open Forest Protocol forestation project in Alentejo, Portugal, is a prime example of the power of the forest in elevating life for all. Meet this non-profit organization pioneering a regenerative way of living that fuses permaculture, whole-system models, and sustainability practices to nomad community cohabitation.
OASA originated as a reimagined digital space for nomads. It has evolved into a platform for building and researching regenerative ways of living and traveling for digital nomads (or anyone determined to leave no footprints behind on the environment in their trek through life). OASA founder Samuel Delesque described the project’s conception and future plans during a sit down with the OFP team a few days before their community planting exercise and first data upload to OFP’s open Measurement, Reporting, and Verification platform.
“We are creating the prototype of a regenerative way of living.”
- Samuel Delesque, Founder, OASA.
As a digital nomad for the better part of a decade, Samuel has firsthand experience with the unsustainable lifestyle. As living and working spaces become more commoditized, there is little or no care for sustainability or eco-friendliness — it is becoming yet another extractive industry. This was a motivating push for Samuel, who believes commoditization detracts from the character and culture of these spaces. To Sam, recycling and compost bins, good community, and sustainable living as a whole are essential. Sam said it best: “We are what we eat, and we eat what we grow.” The forests planted surrounding OASA will be partly food forests.
After considering locations in South Africa, the United States, Mexico, and Sweden, Samuel finally settled OASA’s first base in Portugal. With accessible land acquisition, a safe legal environment, and a pristine coastline, Portugal was an excellent choice for OASA. Countries like Portugal are one of many taking the reins to reinvent the future of work and lifestyle for digital nomads. With an estimated population of 10 million, Portugal is the 20th most sustainable country in the world (UN Sustainable Development Report 2022) and ranked 16th on the Global Sustainability Index. Portugal is supported by an ambitious National Energy and Climate Plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 with forestation and a circular economy as integral cogs in the goal.
OASA is founded on six principles of regeneration and land stewardship: Soil, Water, Air, Waste, Rewilding and Biodiversity, Resources, and Community.
“The Principles ensure that all co-creators of Projects maintain soils, native vegetation, water bodies, and other resources of the projects to the fullest extent possible. They also ensure that the Projects embody a culture with a sense of community, love, empowerment, care, and respect.”
- OASA Whitepaper.
These guiding pillars support and enforce the structure of every OASA community and generally require each one to:
- Re-wild at least 50% of the occupied land.
- Have a maximum of 5% constructed area.
- Foster biodiversity.
- Harvest rainwater and restore water cycles.
- Prioritize reduction of external input and waste.
Administratively registered as an association under Swiss law, OASA operates as a network of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO) with 20 contributors and 50 members in its first DAO. Each of the projected 12 OASA communities will have a DAO acting as a legal entity that enforces the principles of regeneration and land stewardship, manages the community, and issues tokens. DAOs are bottom-up management structures that operate without a central management authority. Instead, decision-making is ensured and executed via on-chain smart contracts. The OASA smart contract is a particular contract known as a proof-of-presence contract that allows members to make on-chain bookings and exercise governance rights and duties like voting on decisions.
On the ground, each community will be managed by:
- A space host who caters to in-house needs in the living quarters.
- Stewards in charge of community activities like tree planting and construction.
- Circles that handle different aspects of the community (legal, coordination, organization, and permaculture) and are responsible for making proposals within their scope of action that members can vote on.
By moving the needle from a concept of land ownership to stewardship enforced by the DAO model, OASA and Samuel believe people (members) will be more engaged and responsible and have a common interest in climate and sustainable living.
OFP’s open MRV as a proof-of-regeneration tool
“When nature flourishes, the economy flourishes.”
- Samuel Delesque, Founder, OASA
OASA is modeled as a circular economy founded on permaculture and whole-system thinking approaches, backed by natural capital — a truly self-sustaining system. One of its foundational pillars requires rewilding and the fostering of biodiversity. Rewilding involves conservation and restoration efforts to restore an area’s natural, uncultivated state.
Planting trees to restore the natural forests within OASA communities will require a practical Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) tool that is robust, accessible, and user-friendly. OFP’s open MRV will measure and report the progress and success of OASA’s trees (proof-of-regeneration). At the same time, the verification will be the first step in unlocking the market mechanism of the open MRV tool, giving OASA easy access to carbon markets to take advantage of their drawdown potential and diversify their income stream.
An OFP Representative on the ground got the opportunity to experience the Traditional Dream Factory (TDF) firsthand; the first and prototype regenerative community of OASA, located in Alentejo, Portugal. The project covers 25 hectares, with OFP deploying its open MRV on an initial 0.7 hectares. Native species that will be reforested include strawberry trees, pine trees, and oak trees, alongside emergent bushes and species, lemons, and oranges. The day that OFP visited, the community was planting 600 trees in a day-long event that included sharing a vegetarian meal, panel discussions on regenerative agriculture techniques, and submitting the first data upload for their monitoring zone on the Open Forest Protocol mobile app.
“The site was beautiful and the stewards were incredibly friendly and knowledgeable about the land they were working on. They were eager to share information about their land and planting techniques.”
- OFP Representative Alejandro Alvarez
Looking toward the future, OASA and Samuel are focused on the completion of TDF. They hope it can be the blueprint for other regenerative communities and projects both within and outside the OASA network. Their vision is set on the creation of regenerative living spaces, with solid communities, surrounded by plentiful forests — beginning in Portugal, and then expanding to 12 villages worldwide. Each will be designed to offer a creative, purposeful, and grounding experience, and form a conservation network of regenerative communities powered by Web3 technology and supported by the power of forests.
Fun Fact: the name OASA is a combination of the Danish translation (Oase) of the word “Oasis” and “Casa,” the Portuguese word for house.
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