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Amazon rainforest tribe sells REDD+ credits to Brazilian cosmetics giant

The Paiter-Suruí, a rainforest tribe that in June became the first indigenous group to generate REDD+ credits under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), has now closed their first deal. As reported by Ecosystem Marketplace, Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura Cosméticos has purchased 120,000 tons of carbon offsets from the the Surui Forest Carbon Project in Rondônia, Brazil.

The deal is significant because it represents a major commitment to the Surui’s forest conservation initiative, which aims to preserve both the rainforest and indigenous culture by enabling the tribe to develop a sustainable economic model based on traditional land-use practices, ecotourism, and harvesting of non-timber forest products. Unlike some other REDD+ projects, which have suffered from lack of buy-in from local communities due to various concerns, the Surui initiative is strongly supported by the tribe, which conceived of the idea in 2007.

“REDD+ is a bridge between the indigenous world and the non-indigenous world, so it’s an appropriate way to begin this process” says Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui, who the effort to develop the project and has since become the international face of the tribe. “It creates a vehicle through which the capitalist system can recognize the value of standing forests, and indigenous people can be rewarded for preserving them.”

Surui indigenous territory in BrazilSurui indigenous territory in Brazil. The Surui have worked closely with Google Earth Outreach to develop ways to map and monitor their territory.

The Surui project is designed to prevent the emission of some five million tons of carbon that would otherwise be released if current deforestation trends in the area continue. Illegal logging and forest conversion to large-scale agriculture are two key drivers of deforestation and forest degradation around the Surui territory.

The purchase of the credits by Natura is the first sale for the Surui initiative. Natura’s purchase comes under the cosmetics maker’s environmental program which targets a one-third reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels by the end of the year. Natura, Latin America’s largest cosmetics company, has committed to offsetting emissions it can’t reduce through internal measures.

“Since we made a commitment to be a carbon neutral company in 2007, Natura offsets 100% of its emissions,” Ecosystem Marketplace quoted Denise Alves, Director of Sustainability, as saying.

Chief Almir added that carbon neutrality should be viewed as an “obligation” for companies.

“Until now, companies have looked at rainforest preservation as something they do to be nice, or as philanthropy,” said Chief Almir. “Natura recognizes that carbon neutrality isn’t just a gesture, it’s an obligation, and it’s one we all have. REDD+ makes it possible for companies to meet that obligation, and for us to become providers of an ecosystem service.”

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