June 08, 2012
Brazil’s Surui tribe became the first indigenous group to receive validation for their carbon offsets project last month, after four years of collaboration with the Google Earth Outreach team.
With the help of Google tools such as Android smartphones, members of the Surui tribe measured the carbon stock of their lands in the Amazon Rainforest. The tribe members submitted a proposal to the Rainforest Alliance, which was approved last month, enabling the tribe to sell their carbon offsets on the global carbon market.
The approval makes the Surui’s project the first emmissions reduction effort in Brazil to be certified by both the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Gold Standard. The tribe will now be able to trade carbon offsets from its forests on the global market for the next three decades.
The Surui will sell their carbon offsets to companies interested in compensating for theirgreenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) emissions made through electricity, manufacturing or transportation. In addition to securing the Amazon Rainforest’s future, purchasing Surui carbon comes with the social benefit of knowing that the purchase helps the tribe preserve its traditional culture on its ancestral lands.
“It’s not just about absolute greenhouse gas reduction, there’s this social benefit to this project, too,” Google Earth Outreach director Rebecca Moore told Mashable. “If you have different carbon offsets that you can purchase, the tribe wants you to learn about their culture, before you chose your purchase.”
In 2008, the Google Earth Outreach team first visited the Surui tribe, upon receiving invitation from Chief Almir Naramagoya Surui. The Surui people live in a region that’s been ravaged by illegal logging. The tribe wanted guidance as to how they could best preserve their culture using digital tools, such as Picasa, YouTube and Blogger.
The following year, Moore returned to teach the tribe about Open Data Kit for Android phones, which they use to streamline their data collection processes. The Surui used the kit to photograph the illegal logging happening on their rainforest property, before developing their carbon credits project.
While it may seem illogical to use technology to preserve this traditional way of life, Chief Almir believes the appropriate use of technology strengthens the tribe’s culture. Moore says Chief Almir hopes to open a center for technology and culture on the Surui’s ancestral lands, as a testament to the tribe’s beliefs technology can and should be used for good.
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Rusel II B. Feliscuzo