Austin, Feb. 15, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Funga, the first company to establish commercial nature-based carbon removal projects powered by belowground fungal biodiversity restoration, today announced the close of a $4M USD seed funding round led by Azolla Ventures. Additional participants in the round include Trailhead Capital, Better Ventures, and Shared Future Fund as part of a Collaborative Fund vehicle.
Funga, founded by Dr. Colin Averill, Ecologist and Climate Scientist, combines modern DNA sequencing and machine learning technology with breakthrough research on the forest microbiome. This approach allows Funga to put the right native, biodiverse communities of mycorrhizal fungi in the right place. The funding follows the launch of peer-reviewed research showing that the reintroduction of wild soil microbial biodiversity can accelerate plant growth by an average of 64% across field and greenhouse studies, in turn, accelerating carbon capture.
Dr. Colin Averill, Funga’s Founder, said: “An entire galaxy exists below our feet, made up of millions of species of bacteria and fungi. These microscopic organisms have profound effects on forest growth and carbon capture, that until now have been overlooked as a way to accelerate natural climate solutions while also restoring essential microbial biodiversity to our soils. Our team at ETH Zürich’s Crowther Lab has spent years documenting how these fungi ultimately affect tree growth. We’ve learnt that restoration of belowground fungal communities can significantly accelerate plant growth and carbon capture. We’re thankful for the support of our investors that will allow our team to take this science out of the lab and into our forests, generating biodiversity and climate action at scale.”
Funding will be used to accelerate the development of Funga’s proprietary software and datasets; scale the footprint of its forest microbiome restoration projects; and ultimately offer a new class of high-quality, sustainable carbon removal at pace with rapidly escalating demand.
Matthew Nordan, General Partner at Azolla Ventures said: “Scientists at the IPCC have proven that we cannot solve the climate crisis without carbon removal at scale. Harnessing the relationship between forests and fungi is a pathbreaking innovation: by rebuilding the microbial networks in the soil, trees can grow faster and pull down more atmospheric carbon. We’re proud to support the scientists and ecologists at Funga as they help repair the climate while enhancing biodiversity.”
Funga recently established its first microbiome restoration projects in Lexington, Georgia in partnership with Conservation Resources. Over the next 18 months, Funga will establish an additional 2,500 acres of forest microbiome restoration projects within the loblolly pine footprint of the southern United States. The company's goal is to sequester at least three billion tons of carbon dioxide through rewilding forests by 2050. Funga will measure how much additional carbon dioxide is captured as a result of forest microbiome restoration and will make this available to corporate buyers as part of their carbon removal portfolio.
Shea Flanagan, Director of Sustainability and Strategy at Conservation Resources said, “As an organization that has dedicated itself to sustainably stewarding over one million acres of timberland and farmland across the US for environmental impact outcomes, we’re excited to be partnering with Funga to build native biodiversity back into an initial 2,500 acres of managed forests. Doing so will transform these landscapes to act as reservoirs of belowground fungal biodiversity. This breakthrough innovation aligns with our commitment to meaningfully restore and enhance soil health across the lands that we manage, resulting in more intact ecosystems and improved forestry outcomes.”
If you are looking to be one of the first companies to purchase credits from carbon removal projects explicitly powered by belowground fungal biodiversity restoration, sign up here.
Funga is a public benefit corporation focused on restoring the power of fungal biodiversity to working forests, thereby accelerating tree growth and carbon drawdown. The company was founded by Dr. Colin Averill, a forest ecologist and microbiologist, who has spent his career studying how forest fungal microbiology ultimately controls the capacity of forests to act as carbon sinks, and buffer the Earth against climate change. Learn more here: https://www.funga.earth/ or connect with us on Instagram (@Funga_pbc) Twitter (@Fungapbc) or on LinkedIn (Funga).
About Azolla Ventures:
Azolla Ventures is founded by Prime Coalition, a nonprofit organization that partners with philanthropists and other mission-driven investors to support market-driven innovations designed to catalyze, deepen, or accelerate solutions for climate change.