Illegal loggers and miners are destroying rainforests and ancestral land across the globe every day.
Currently in Brazil, the indigenous Surui people of Rondônia, are still fighting against loggers and miners, after 40 years of destruction to their land. It was restored to the Surui people in 1984, following the official demarcation, and is now legally protected against deforestation - although the Brazilian government do nothing to protect it.
The logging industry has not only damaged the Surui land, of which they have 250,000 hectares, but in the 70s and 80s, it created rifts between Surui leaders, as some took payments from the loggers, whilst not realising how much they were being exploited.
However, in the last decade, the Surui people have come together to take a stand against the illegal activities. The Surui people have restablished traditional activities, as well as the establishment of reforestation programmes. Sadly some borders of their land that were badly affected haven't regrown, but around 97% of their land does remain untouched, and future reforestation work will help.
The Surui Carbon Project has brought the different tribes together, with the four clans signing a cooperation agreement to ensure the safeguard of their communities. Led by Chief Amir Surui, they have drafted a 50-year strategic plan (the Management Plan of the Indigenous Land Sete de Setembro) for conservation, protection and sustainability for their lands, with the funding mechanism for this plan coming from REDD+.
Surui Carbon Project
The Surui Carbon Project is not only improving the lives of the Surui people, and their homeland, but it is proving to be an effective model that can be applied in other regions across the world that need conserving and protecting.
Through various techniques, such as carbon credits, carbon sequestration and reforestation, the project is providing a sustainable income for the Surui people, while preserving and improving the local land. The project gives natural resources an economic value, which means the Surui people can speak the language of the corporations - money. By making the value of the forests more when they are in tact rather than cut down, deforestation can be stopped.
The Surui now receive an income from Payments for Environmental Services (PES), mostly through trading carbon credits, which have increased in value due to the accurate measurements of the greenhouse gas reductions from the forests, as well as their biodiversity. This measuring method comes through REDD+ (Reduction of Emmissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation).
REDD+ is the most relevant carbon compensation for the Surui people, along with carbon sequestration through reforestation.
The key for REDD+ is to find the value in keeping the forests, which then gives the Surui more carbon credits to trade with. This is done by estimating the amount of carbon held in the biomass of the forests, which would be emitted through deforestation. These estimates are then valued in carbon credits, which can be bought from the Surui by businesses, institutions or governments. This way a polluter can compensate for their emissions by paying those who conserve forests (the Surui people in this case), providing them with a financial reward, which creates a more sustainable and environmental income, as well as giving them more opportunities to maintain their land.
Internationally recognised methodologies and certification under the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA), and Voluntary Carbon Standards (VCS) are being used to guarantee quality and accounting of carbon credits.
Reforestation is one method of carbon sequestration the project is using. During the growth of each tree, tons of carbon is sequestered from the atmosphere. According to IPCC, a one-ton tree trunk stores 550kg of carbon.
The measurement of this carbon sequestration adds to the value of carbon credits. The Surui people have been given mobile phones and special equipment that work out how much carbon a tree is preventing from being released into the atmosphere. The Surui people add the data to Google Earth Engine, so that the rest of the world can view their rainforest region, and follow the work they are doing to reforest it, but also to prevent further reforestation. They can take photos and videos of the rainforest to show any changes that may have occurred from loggers, and log this onto Google Earth, so that others will recognise the problems, and help build a global response.
If the Surui Carbon project works, this system could be applied to the many other regions that need protection from deforestation and illegal activities.
To find out more about the Surui Carbon project visit: www.aquaverde.org/surui-carbon-redd_plus-project/?lang=en