Key Points

  • WWF-UK has begun selling a series of irreplaceable tokens featuring endangered species.
  • To date, more than 300 people have purchased NFT from the series, generating $30,000 in transactions.
  • However, critics argue that WWF’s choice of blockchain supports ecologically destructive mining practices.

The UK arm of the World Wildlife Fund today began selling irreplaceable tokens (NFTs) to fund its conservation efforts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the move has drawn criticism.

WWF is selling the endangered species NFT

As of February 3, WWF UK has begun selling NFTs featuring 13 different endangered species. The conservation organization's official website indicates that approximately 7,900 individual NFTs are for sale, equal to the total number of animals remaining in these species.

According to statistics from the organization's OpenSea Marketplace, at least 300 people have purchased NFT from the series so far. That's the equivalent of 11.6 ETH ($30,800) of trading volume.

Users who purchase NFT will receive ownership of the digital media attached to each token. They will also receive online meetings with environmentalists, discounts on merchandise from CyberKongz and World of Women, and other promotional offers.

The collection features the artwork of digital artists Ted Chin (TedsLittleDreams) and Yam Karkai.

The sale drew immediate and strong opposition

WWF has chosen to issue its tokens on Polygon (MATIC), the second layer of Ether's network. The environmental group notes that Polygon uses very little energy: "Each transaction has the carbon footprint of a glass of tap water," it says.

Despite the organization's decision to use a sustainable blockchain, the announcement immediately drew strong opposition.

Catherine Flick, a faculty member at De Montfort University, points out that Polygon is a second layer protocol for Ether. As such, Polygon arguably supports the energy-intensive practice of cryptocurrency mining, even though it uses very little energy itself.

Ether is currently moving to a proof-of-stake system, which will eliminate mining and reduce its energy consumption. Currently, however, Ether uses 106 TWh of energy per year, which is comparable to the annual energy consumption of the Netherlands.

Other critics point out that WWF's German affiliate released a similar NFT last November, which was met with similar opposition. Nevertheless, the campaign has managed to raise $245,000 to date.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this article owns BTC, ETH and other cryptocurrencies.