The Surui Forest Carbon Project is an initiative led by the Metareilá Association, which works to defend and preserve the autonomy and the cultural and territorial heritage of the Surui people: a tribe of roughly 1,300 members, structured in four clans, who were first contacted less than 50 years ago.
The project aims to dramatically reduce deforestation and its associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Surui territory, which is under intense deforestation pressure. In 2009, the Surui decided to discontinue logging and forest clearing for low-productivity agriculture. Instead, the Surui seek to generate income from ecosystem services (like carbon stock management), and through new, forest-friendly economic activities.
The Surui territory consists of 248,000 hectares straddling the Brazilian states of Rondonia and Mato Grosso, in the “arc of deforestation” sweeping over the Amazon.
In addition to conserving forest stocks, the project protects habitat for three threatened species, seven near-threatened species and five vulnerable species:
Additionally, the region hosts plant and insect populations including species that are new to science.
The project will fund the following activities:
- Forest surveillance and conservation activities include hiring, equipping, and training Surui forest rangers.
- Food security and sustainable economic production: to enhance the productivity and environmental sustainability of agriculture and non-timber forest products (coffee, banana, Brazil nuts, cocoa, and aquaculture).
- Institution building: to strengthen Surui culture and the capacity of Surui’s technical and governing organizations.
The Surui are using innovative mapping and monitoring technology based on a partnership with Google. These innovations provide significant cost savings, transparency, and capabilities for the Surui to participate in all aspects of the project.
Metareilá is supported by a diverse consortium of NGOs committed to ensuring the success of the project:
- Forest Trends coordinates the project development and contacts with investors. www.katoombagroup.org/incubator
- IDESAM is the technical coordinator of the PD and its validation and verification in the VCS and CCB standards. www.idesam.org.br
- Amazon Conservation Team- Brazil is responsible for participatory planning, mapping and land-use change modeling. www.amazonteam.org
- Kanindé supports local consultation and forest conservation planning. www.kaninde.org.br
- FUNBIO supports the governance of the project and administers the trust fund (Fundo Suruí). www.funbio.org.br
- Ludovino Lopes Avogados is the Surui’s legal counsel.
The Surui identify themselves as the “Paiter Surui” (the True People). Their population of over 5,000 was nearly driven to extinction by disease after first contact with Brazilians of European descent. They have rallied in numbers, but their culture and their very identity as forest people is under threat. The Surui Forest Carbon Project is an expression of their will not only to survive, but to contribute meaningfully to the world of which they are a significant part.