Dialing C for Carbon Offset

The Surui tribe in Brazil recently became the first indigenous community to receive independent authentication of a carbon offset project. Developed over four years in conjunction with Google Earth Outreach, the project employed Android phones to help map the Surui's rainforest lands and measure itscorresponding carbon stocks.

The Surui Chief Almir Naramagoya Surui first contacted Google Earth in 2008, requesting access to available technology to address the rampant logging in the area. With the "Open Data Kit" for Android phones provided by Google Earth, they were then able to both photograph the illegal logging, and collect data on the carbon captured by remaining rainforest stocks. 

They then used this information to apply for carbon credit certification through both the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Gold Standard. The tribe will now be able to sell and trade the carbon offsets on the global carbon market, and use the money earned to reinvest in protecting their homeland.

The voluntary carbon market is a slow-growing, but potentially vast market, where organizations, businesses, and even individuals can purchase carbon credits to offset their own emissions. The entrance by the Surui into the carbon market represents an important step in including not just large renewable energy projects and producers, but smaller communities that can protect existing ecosystems from further degradation.