A bitcoin mine in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is investing surplus energy into conservation efforts.

Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo has become the first national park in the world to use Bitcoin.
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Mine will promote conservation of its forests and wildlife. Cointelegraph spoke to Sébastien Gouspillo, CEO of Big Block Green Services and the man who introduced Bitcoin mining to the park.

“Bitcoin mining saved the park from bankruptcy,” said Kouspilou, laughing, speaking via video call.

Virunga is Africa’s oldest protected park and an icon of the continent’s biodiversity. Journalist Adam Popescu’s report published in the MIT Technology Review explains that the region was plagued by problems before Bitcoin mining. From local militias to violent attacks on its animals and staff, Ebola outbreaks and kidnappings, the iconic national park has struggled to make money in recent years.

The loss of tourism after the COVID-19 pandemic was the nail in the coffin for the park, as visitors to see gorillas, other wildlife and waterfalls dried up. The article noted that about 40% of the park’s revenue comes from tourism.

When Kouspilou learned of the shooting in the park, he needed help. He met the park’s manager, Emmanuel de Merode – a Belgian prince by blood – at a castle in France in mid-2019. Kouspilou explains that he immediately recognized the main attractions of the park.

Parks can monetize abundant and underutilized natural resources to conserve them. Cowspillo explained to De Merode how Virunga could make money mining Bitcoin.

The conversation in the palace is non-stop. “It must have been hours,” Gausbillu explained. That conversation and follow-ups and a visit to the Congo eventually led to the installation of the first section of the de Merode mine in the early 2020s, which successfully generated its first funding in September of that year.

After about three years, the park has made a lot of money from Bitcoin. For the months leading up to the 2021 bull run, the park was paid more than $150,000 a month — almost all of it to cover lost tourism revenue.

Virunga’s bitcoin mining is a unique, yet cost-effective solution to protecting the park’s biodiversity. Bitcoin mining is a thriving industry, but Virunga’s mine is unique in its use of clean energy: green technology surrounded by lush rainforests.

The mine is powered by one of the park’s three hydroplants, a sustainable source of electricity that has long been used to power neighboring towns. The site employs eight full-time employees who work in shifts managing forest miners working on site. Brave rangers protect the base — a story that inspired a Netflix documentary.

The site has 10 shipping containers, each holding 250 to 500 rigs. Virunga uses three of these bowls, the remaining seven are cowpilo. As part of the deal, Kauspillu buys Virunga’s power, but keeps the Bitcoin mining.

Additionally, as Gouspillou explains, existing Bitcoin mining is part of a “global plan” that will include more promotional measures. Additional power stations will also be set up in the park, he explained, to connect local communities to electricity and of course mine more bitcoins.

De Merode believes the project will be successful despite the bear market. It is true that some Bitcoin miners are vulnerable to the bear market of 2022, but de Merode is in a unique position: the park does not consider the value of Bitcoin, but rather invests Bitcoin with surplus energy, which otherwise has no value. Available.

Also, there is less risk of losing Bitcoin (or private keys) if de Merode is killed in the process. More than 200 park rangers, or rangers, have been killed since 1996 – and de Merode was shot twice during a trip to Goma in 2014.

Source: CoinTelegraph