The Surui, GPS Technology, REDD and Preserving Amazonian Rainforest

Thanks to Ken H for forwarding this article. Maybe this is an example of an evolving “organic” way to preserve Amazonian rainforest.

Imagine. Google is providing GPS capability to Amerindians deep in the rainforests of Surinam, Brazil and Columbia. How significant is the Google Earth Engine and Amazon Surui Tribes project? “The Suruí Indigenous population of the Brazilian Amazon made contact with the outside world for the first time only 40 years ago.” And today, they are using GPS technology and laptop computers that have been provided by the U.S.-based Amazon Conservation Team! Even more importantly, forest preservation efforts with the Surui are being tracked under the REDD initiative. – ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation’. REDD is a program created by the UN in 2007.

Why is it so important to work with such a remote tribe deep within Amazonia? The Surui very only “discovered” about 40 years ago. Since that discovery occurred “settlers soon followed, stealing 80 percent of the Surui land and bringing new diseases that killed 90 percent of the people.

Forest encroachment continues unabated in search of minerals.

Since REDD was created, global efforts have been underway towards maturing a market for carbon credits. Credits provided under REDD are credits that can derived from projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation. This raises the value of environmental preservation in areas that contains much of our planet’s sequestered carbon – the tropical rainforests. These valuable forests are being “slashed for their hardwood and burned to make way for cattle ranches and soy farms.” The longer this continues and the more forest that is removed, our planet will be less able to safely combat the rising levels of atmospheric gasses.

In theory, carbon trading offers considerable opportunity for companies/countries to “purchase” offset credits in a global commodity market. In reality, the purchase of offset credits also enables companies/countries to continue carbon emissions at a level that does not necessarily disincentivise the buyer of setting emission standards that would actively reduce their carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

The following link: Carbon Credit Trading provides a very good overview of REDD and carbon credits. I also like this link from Living on Earth: Protecting a Forest and Preserving a Culture that tells the impact from this illegal incursion and how the Surui have adopted space age technology to better understand where the damage is being incurred. These technologies also allow a “near real-time” prevention potential.

Finally, to have a broader understanding of REDD and the Surui, please see: Suruí REDD Project: Baseline and Carbon Stock Changes, Challenges and Opportunities. I think the details will be revealing about the changes that are being forced upon an environment and on its indigenous people.

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