The Surui Carbon Project

Greetings! I’m Beto Borges, a Brazilian living in California since 1984.  I developed a profound appreciation for nature in my life inspired by my youth climbing and backpacking in the Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil and my grandfather’s tales about life in the early 1900s in the Cerrado of Minas Gerais. That appreciation brought me to the United States in the early 80s to climb and hike in the national parks, leading me to the summit of Mt. McKinley in Alaska, and study conservation of natural resources at UC Berkeley with a focus on community development. Over the years, I’ve had the fortune of working in several unique projects and organizations, focusing my work in the Brazilian Amazon for the most part.  Currently, I direct the Communities and Markets Program at Forest Trends.  Our goal is to link forest communities to emerging environmental markets in carbon, water, biodiversity and beyond, to leverage conservation and community benefits.

caption: Betto Borges visiting a Surui village

Beto visiting a Surui village

I’ve had the privilege to know and work with Almir Surui since 1992 or so, going back to his participation in the Centro de Pesquisa Indígena. Two years ago, Almir and I began talking about the Surui efforts to reforest parts of their lands in the 248,000 hectares territory in the Brazilian Amazon, state of Rondônia, that had been clear cut by loggers and cattle ranchers. I introduced the idea to support their reforestation efforts through carbon finance and in that way the Surui Carbon Project started.

Since then, through the vital leadership of Almir Surui, the Surui indigenous people, via their representative body, the Metareilá Association, together with partners ACT-Brasil, Kanindé, Forest Trends, IDESAM, and more recently FUNBIO, have been developing a pioneering REDD+ project to protect their forests. The project started as carbon sequestration through reforestation and evolved to its current REDD focus, that is, reduced emissions from forest degradation and deforestation. This process aims to be a model of good practice for indigenous engagement in REDD and has included an extensive process of community consultation, planning and training, technical assessment and baseline development for carbon accounting, as well as landmark legal analyses of indigenous rights and forest carbon.

The Surui are now at the point where they can initiate informed and equitable negotiations with potential investors to complete the remaining steps needed for successful finance and implementation. Consensus of the project technical team is that there is a very high probability of project delivering at least 300,000 tons of CO2 by end 2012 and approximately 2 million tons to 2020; thus providing a significant contribution towards climate change mitigation via reduced emissions from avoided forest degradation and deforestation (REDD). But perhaps even more important than the project’s direct contribution to control climate change, is the fact that the Surui Carbon project will provide bridge financing for the implementation of the Surui 50 years- development plan, a self-developed and  autonomous action plan for improved territorial governance and community well being.

For more detailed information, please leave a comment or question below, or contact me at

Forest and river by the Surui village

Surui man using traditional bow and arrow

Forest and river by the Surui village

Forest by the Surui village

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    5 Responses to “The Surui Carbon Project”

    1. luciana says:

      eu gostaria de saber mais sobre o projeto de sequestro de carbono´pois e muito interessante e muito importante para nos povo da amazonia.

    2. bing says:

      Thank you for this blog. Thats all I can say. You most definitely have made this blog into something thats eye opening and important.

    3. […] Surui Carbon Project – updating Google Earth with climate and environmental data with the help of the local Surui tribe in S. America. The native groups become the “carbon monitors” and are empowered to document and track environmental issues and illegal deforestation. […]

    4. I hope folks will actually do something with this information. Information like this is potentially so powerful, it makes me sad when folks do not use it to make a difference.

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