The Amazon Conservation Team and Rhiza Upshot:
Saving the Rainforest and Protecting the Surui Territory
Illegal logging threatens the lands of Brazil’s Surui people. Using Rhiza Upshot’s online mapping software, the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) and the Surui people are launching a response. The Surui Carbon Project aims to calculate the amount of carbon stored in the Surui’s rainforest lands. Once this number is ascertained, the Surui can trade in the global carbon market. Since most Surui live in poverty, this will bring the tribe much-needed income. Furthermore, it will conserve the Surui homeland by giving the Surui a financial incentive to thwart illegal loggers. The Surui Carbon Project is a radical new model for international development and environmental protection, based on Rhiza technology.
Using rugged handheld devices, scientists and Surui document trees, clearings, plant density, and more. The devices guide non-technical users to create high-quality data. When Internet access is available, the devices sync with the ACT’s instance of Rhiza Upshot. Scientists then review the data for accuracy and evaluate it to measure stored carbon. The Surui use this data to tell the story of their tribe and the issues it faces. They then make visualizations in Rhiza Upshot to share with others, and export them to Google Earth tours to create striking 3-D presentations. These presentations inform government officials seeking to curb illegal logging. They also help scientists to evaluate the Surui’s role in the global carbon market. Finally, they give the Surui a voice in telling their own story.
How do they do it?
- Capture Data
Surui, ACT researchers, and conservation scientists take to the field with rugged handheld devices. These devices guide user sto photohraph field conditions and document key information. The devices feature intuitive user interfaces, designed by Rhiza’s team of human-computer interaction specialists. These interfaces guide non-technical users to create high-quality data.
- Visualize and Analyze
When Internet access is available, the phones sync with Rhiza Upshot. The high-quality structured data collected on the ground automatically appends to previously collected data. Conservation scientists and Surui advocates then examine the data. They use Rhiza Upshot to quickly and easily create intuitive visualizations. They compare these visualizations with satellite imagery to identify illegal logging and evaluate the Surui people’s role in the global carbon market.
- Share Results
The visualizations create an irrefutable depiction of current forest conditions and their implications for the Surui people. These depictions motivate government officials to take action. They also help scientists to evaluate the impact of Surui lands on the global environment. The Surui use these visualizations to communicate their story to the world.
With Rhiza Upshot, the Surui can better protect their land by documenting and communicating their story. As part of the Surui Carbon Project, Upshot supports scientific research, cultural resource documentation, and enforcement of logging restrictions. The Surui Carbon Project is another example of Rhiza leading the charge toward making mobile data collection, analysis and visualization accessible to anyone, regardless of training.