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Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


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Brazil Program Semi-Annual Report
USDA Forest Service International Programs
December 2001


A fire test was conducted in Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso in August of 2001.
Dr. Carlos Gurgel from the Universidade de Brasilia and Michelle Zweede
observe the smoldering of the sampled logs.


The Brazil Program consists of several components that are independently managed but closely coordinated to provide the greatest possible payoff to Brazilian and United States forest managers and forest users. The Sustainable Forest Management Project provides baseline biological information underlying the development of advanced forest management strategies, providing assistance with institution building and analysis for silviculture, environmental conservation, and in the past ecotourism. It is closely linked with Brazilian Space Agency (INPE) and NASA led Large-Scale Atmosphere/Biosphere project. Silvicultural development has concentrated on the multiple advantages of low-impact harvesting. The Forest Management Project has been focused on the Tapajós National Forest, but also includes development and training at Cauaxi in conjunction with the Tropical Forest Foundation.

The Fire and Environmental Change Project is a coordinated series of research and development activities addressing questions of biomass burning, global change, and fire-danger rating in Brazilian ecosystems. The project contributes remote sensing for fire detection and mapping, and compiles inventories of fire activity and air pollution through cooperation by the Pacific Southwest Research Station and NASA with IBAMA and other Brazilian institutions. A fire-hazard rating system, used to anticipate flammability and fire effects in tropical ecosystems, is being developed by the Pacific Northwest Research Station in collaboration with the Brazilian Space Institute and others.

This progress report, covering the six-month period of March 2001 through October 2001, is one in a series of outputs describing the mission, scope, activities, and accomplishments of the USDA Forest Service/USAID Program in Brazil. Additional information can be obtained from the National Coordinator or the Forest Service's International Programs website at:

Overview | Fire and Environmental Change | Sustainable Forest Management

Fire and Environmental Change

Highlights | Activities and Progress | Publications | Staffing


· The Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, continued a successful and active cooperative program with Brazilian counterparts. During the reporting period, FERA completed the first bilingual volume of the Stereo Photo Series for Quantifying Cerrado Fuels in Central Brazil. It has been printed and is being distributed in Brazil and the United States. A bilingual brochure that describes the photo series has been prepared and printed. Currently, it is being distributed to a large mailing list that included personnel from all Brazil's Federal and State protected areas, and agencies and institutions involved in management and conservation in the Cerrado region.

· Collaborative research projects continue with the IBAMA, INPE's combustion laboratory, the University of the State of Sao Paulo, and the University of Washington, in Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso, Brazil. One experimental burn was completed within the arc of deforestation, in Alta Floresta, state of Mato Grosso. This burn tested combustion hypotheses that have been developed from laboratory tests.

· Half of the scheduled laboratory tests using the combustion furnace at INPE's laboratory facilities in Cachoeira Paulista were completed. Full analysis of combustion gases is also being conducted. Laboratory tests will provide improved combustion rates and better smoke emission factors from Amazon forest burning. Testing will continue until 2002.

· During September 2001 IBAMA deployed its ForestMapper camera system, aboard the INPE Bandeirante research aircraft, for natural resource mapping in Amazonia. The Forest Service provided assistance in system installation and operation through out 2001.

· A course on thermal infrared remote sensing and its applications to forest and fire management was presented during April 2001. The participants included six technical specialists from INPE, one from IBAMA, one from EMBRAPA and three from the Brazilian Air force's Technical Center and three University students.

· Seven Forca Tarefa firefighters from the Brasilia Corpo de Bombeiros and two firefighters from the states of Para and Mato Grosso participated in hotshot and heli-rappel training. After training, they worked for five months in the U.S. National Forests.


Activities and Progress

Combustion and Carbon Emissions from Tropical Biomass

FERA continued another successful campaign in collaboration with IBAMA, INPE's combustion laboratory, the University of the State of Sao Paulo, and the University of Washington, in Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso, Brazil. Results from the FERA-INPE-UNESP cooperation have been presented in several scientific forums in the two countries. The group presented papers at the XII Congresso Brasileiro de Agrometeorologia in Fortaleza, ENCIT 2000, and the Residual Combustion Workshop in Missoula, Montana. A new INPE scientist and new UNESP students have joined the group.

The Journal of Geophysical Research published the manuscript Biomass Fire Consumption and Carbon Release Rates of Rainforest Clearing Experiments Conducted in Northern Mato Grosso, Brazil.

Dr. Fernando Costa completed a one-year sabbatical stay at the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. Dr. Costa's sabbatical was sponsored by the Forest Service and Brazil's FAPESP. He conducted a one-year research project in conjunction with Dr. David Sandberg at the Corvallis Forestry Sciences Laboratory. Dr. Costa developed a theoretical model of smoldering combustion of large woody fuels that is applicable to combustion of tropical and temperate biomass. The model was presented at the Residual Smoldering Combustion workshop in Missoula, Montana. This report, Smoldering of a Semi-Infinite Log, was prepared and is being reviewed for publication on a refereed journal. Upon his return to INPE in Brazil, Dr. Costa will continue to extend the work he conducted in Corvallis to include a more complex multidimensional approach to his model. He will collaborate on continuation of the model development in cooperation with the rest of INPE, UNESP and FERA group.

The INPE-FERA group conducted outreach meetings with Alta Floresta authorities, local IBAMA personnel, and university students and faculty to explain the scope of work and objectives of the fire research. The biology program from UNEMAT will continue participating with work on the floristic inventory and assessing the effect of the burnings in the regeneration patterns.

Consultations continued with IBAMA and INPE personnel to develop a fine fuel flammability model that will be integrated to the PROARCO model to represent local ecological and weather variability. Ground validation of PROARCO in Alta Floresta is schedule to start during in 2002 field season in Alta Floresta.

Photo Series to Assess Flammability in the Cerrado

In addition, FERA continued the collaborative research program with the University of Brasilia and IBAMA to assess the flammability of Cerrado ecosystems across a broad environmental gradient. Field sites were identified for additional photo series in the cerradao and mata near Brasilia and elsewhere. Fieldwork conducted during the summer included new sites near Brasilia and in Chapada dos Guimaraes in Mato Grosso. Volume II will include the cerradao, campo rupestre, and mata physiognomic forms.

Fire Risk in Reduced-Impact Harvesting Systems

A field trip was taken to the FLONA Tapajos by Mr. Jose Carlos DOS Santos. He evaluated the current status of the logging work that is being conducted there. He also visited sites where we monitored fire vulnerability in the reduced impact logging in the past years and evaluated the condition of the newly logged units. During his visit to the FLONA Tapajos, he began discussions with the new director of the FLONA and the LBA representatives in Santarem, Para. We are preparing a plan to continue working at the FLONA and assess the plan given the ongoing logging work in the National Forest.

Remote Sensing Deployment and Technology Transfer

During September 2001 IBAMA deployed its ForestMapper camera system, aboard the INPE Bandeirante research aircraft, for natural resource mapping in Amazônia. The ForestMapper was first developed through the Forest Service-IBAMA Cooperation and transferred to IBAMA in September 2000. The Forest Service provided assistance in system installation and operation during fiscal year 2001.

The FireMapper development and fire remote sensing database developed by the Forest Service-IBAMA Cooperation is now the subject of discussions regarding a potential Tropical Fire Mapping Mission based on a Brazilian satellite platform. The Working Group is currently working with INPE and IBAMA to define the required sensor performance and outline the mechanical and electrical requirements of the proposed system. IBAMA has also indicated its support for the development of a second-generation FireMapper system for operational, airborne, fire monitoring by IBAMA using thermal-infrared wavelengths.

Fire-monitoring methodology, including the remote-sensing-based monitoring of fire intensity, fuel consumption, and some environmental impacts, was described in a research report submitted for publication during 2001. The report by P. J. Riggan, R. N. Lockwood, R. G. Tissell, J. A. Brass, J. A. R. Pereira, H. S. Miranda, A. C. Miranda, T. Campos, and R. Higgins is entitled: "Remote measurement of wildfire energy and carbon flux." The basis for the work was airborne measurements of burnings in the Cerrado near Brasília and in pasture and slashed forest near Marabá. In this project, temperature, intensity, spread, and dimensions of fires burning in tropical savanna and slashed tropical forest in central Brazil were measured for the first time by remote sensing with an infrared imaging spectrometer that was designed to accommodate the high radiances of wildland fires. Furthermore, the first in-situ airborne measurements of sensible heat and carbon fluxes in fire plumes were combined with remote measurements of flame properties to provide consistent remote-sensing-based estimators of the fluxes. These estimators provide a means to determine the regional and global rates of carbon emission to the atmosphere from wildland fires.

A short course on thermal infrared remote sensing and its applications to forest and fire management was presented during April 2001 at the invitation of INPE at the X Simpósio Brasileiro de Sensoriamento Remoto at Foz de Iguaçu. Registered attendees included six technical specialists from INPE, one from IBAMA, three from Brazilian universities, one from EMBRAPA, and three from the Technical Center of the Força Aérea Brasileira. The content of the course covered design and properties of infrared sensors including performance limits, cooling methods, recent advances in detector arrays, satellite-based systems, and applications for fire and natural resource remote sensing. James Hoffman of Space Instruments, Inc., and Philip Riggan made presentations from the Forest Service/PSW Research Station, and Jim Brass of NASA Ames Research Center.

Training for Brazilian Firefighters

On July 8, 1998, the Brazilian Government created a group of 500 firefighters called Força Tarefa. The task force of firefighters, specialized in fighting wildland fires, was created to support state and local firefighters in the Amazon Region. Through an agreement with the Brazilian Air Force, the firefighters are able to leave at a moments notice from Brasilia to fight any forest fire in the Amazon.

After the two-weeks of training in fire suppression policy and tactics, and passing their physical fitness tests the firefighters began working on fires across the western United States. The crews fought fires in Southern Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Washington State, California, Arizona and Alaska. After working for 5 months on hotshot crews, the firefighters are back in Brazil participating as trainers for IBAMA's fire brigade training school and the Forca Tarefa wildland fire courses.


Carvalho, Joao A.; Costa, F.S.; Veras, C.A.G.; Sandberg, D.V.; Alvarado, E.; Bielow, R.; Serra, A.M., Jr. 2001. Biomass fire consumption and carbon release rates of rainforest clearing experiments conducted in Northern Mato Grosso, Brazil. Journal of Geophysical Research 106:17,877-17,887

Gielow, R.; Carvalho, J. A.; Sandberg, D. V.; Alvarado, E.; Costa, F.S.; , Santos, J.C. 2000. Secagem natural de troncos em área de derrubada na Amazônia. Brazilian Congress on Thermal Engineering and Sciences in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. October 3.

Alvarado, E.A.; Sandberg, D.V. 2001. Logging In Tropical Forest: Literature Review On Ecological Impacts. Report to USAID in Washington, D. C.

Gielow, R.; Carvalho, J.A.; Alvarado, E.; Sandberg, D.V.; Santos, J.C. 2000. Evolução Do Albedo, Saldo De Radiação E Fluxo De Calor No Solo Após Derrubada Florestal Seguida De Queimada E Rebrota NA Região De Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso. Paper Presented at the XII Congresso Brasileiro de Agrometeorologia in Fortaleza.



  • Dr. Philip J. Riggan, Robert N. Lockwood, Robert Tissell


  • João Antonio Raposo Pereira
  • Wilfrid Schroeder


  • Dr. John Roads


  • James A. Brass


  • Dr. David V. Sandberg, Supervisory Research Biologist
  • Roger D. Ottmar, Research Forester
  • Robert E. Vihnanek, Research Forester


  • Ernesto Alvarado, Quantitative Fire Ecologist


  • Dra. Heloisa Miranda, Chair B Department of Ecology
  • Dr. Carlos Gurgel, Mechanical Engineer
  • Saulo Marques de Andrade, Ecologist
  • Marguerite Naomi Sato


  • Joao A. De Carvalho, Aeronautical Engineer
  • Elaine Reis, Doctoral Student


  • Alexander Stein de Luca, Forest Ecologist


  • Dr. Fernando de Souza Costa, Aerospace Engineer
  • Dr. Ralf Gielow, Meteorologist
  • Dr. Turibio G. Soares Neto, Chemical Engineer
  • Jose Carlos dos Santos, Field Research Coordinator


  • Dr. Niro Higuchi, Tropical Silviculture Professor

Sustainable Forest Management

Highlights | Activities and Progress | Publications | Staffing


· Michael Keller, a Forest Service researcher, appeared on 3 televised news programs in Palmas, Tocantins in May 2001 to discuss the relevance of land use change to carbon budgets and the greenhouse effect. Following the news programs, he was interviewed by 2 local newspapers in Palmas and the National Gazetta Mercantil. He was also interviewed on "Bom Dia Mato Grosso" in August 2001.

· On October 6, 2001, Canopy Damage and Recovery Following Selective Logging in an Amazon Forest: Integrating Field and Satellite Studies
was submitted to Ecological Applications. This paper was also presented at the International Programs' Seminar Series.

· An article Biomass in the Tapajos National Forest, Brazil: Examination of Sampling and Allometric Uncertainties was published in Forest Ecology and Management.

· Eddy covariance studies of carbon dioxide and water vapor flux are underway at the tower sites. Currently, there is more than one year of continuous data acquired at this site. The data is publicly available at

· In 2001, 600 hectares were harvested in the FLONA Tapajos. During August, researchers from the US Forest Service and the University of New Hampshire measured logging residues (coarse woody debris) generated by the harvest activity.

· Two professors from the Goeldi Museum held a course for Brazilian researchers in the identification of Amazonian birds and bats enabling them to monitor biodiversity in timber production forests.

· Two papers have been delivered to IBAMA in Santarem to summarize the research done on the effects of selective logging on understory birds and bats in the FLONA Tapajos.

· One bat and two bird expeditions were made to the FLONA Tapajos by Forest Service researchers and their collaborators from the Goeldi Museum. Data from the visits has been entered and the analysis is scheduled for the summer of 2002 at Texas Tech University.

Overview | Fire and Enviromental Change | Sustainable Forest Management

Activities and Progress

The Effects of Harvesting on the FLONA Tapajos has two goals. (1) To evaluate the effect of selective timber harvest at the Tapajos National Forest on a wide range of ecosystem functions, and (2) To evaluate the economic efficiency and effects on harvest system sustainability for alternative methods of land management. Research activities can be grouped into 6 themes in order to illustrate the range of activities that the USFS and IBAMA will pursue as part of the Tapajos Project. Harvesting is ongoing at the FLONA Tapajos. In 1999 only 100 ha were harvested, in 2000 nearly 1000 ha were harvested, in 2001 approximately 600 ha. were harvested. By the end of 2003, the entire concession of 3200 ha will be logged.

Harvesting Systems

Researchers from Auburn University and the Federal Agriculture University of Para (FCAP) surveyed a recently harvested (Quadra 2, Block 1) and adjoining undisturbed control area. They took samples to measure the effects of harvesting on soil properties. This area was previously surveyed in 1996 in preparation for this study. Several students from Auburn University and FCAP participated. Data analysis is underway.

During August 2001, USFS and University of New Hampshire researchers, complemented this survey by measurement of logging residues (coarse woody debris) generated by the harvest activity in two 100 ha logged blocks and two control areas. In addition, they set up studies to measure the ongoing process of branchfall and tree mortality following logging. Logged blocks were compared to the controlled area.


Monitoring of the liberation thinning area treated in 1998 was accomplished during this period. The measurements included an evaluation of the effectiveness of poisoning and post-treatment growth comparing the treated and control plots. Data analysis is currently underway.


Eddy covariance studies of carbon dioxide and water vapor flux are underway at the tower sites. Logging took place around the tower at km 83. A control site is now operational at km 67. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine and University of Sao Paulo have acquired more than one year of continuous data at the site. The data is publicly available ( Another researcher is making equivalent measurements at the control site at km 67. During this period automated chambers to measure soil respiration at the control site were installed.

To complement the carbon budget effort, studies began of coarse woody debris in harvested and undisturbed blocks at the FLONA Tapajos. This was also extended to the Cauaxi site. Over 30 km of transects show large and significant difference between the coarse woody logging debris in conventionally logged blocks compared to reduced impact logging blocks.

Researchers are monitoring permanent plots as well as the sites that will be harvested and the undisturbed permanent plots at the FLONA Tapajos. Over 2000 trees have been measured with dendrometer bands for precise measurements of diameter increment over the short term.


Researchers continue to monitor nutrient and trace gas effects of harvesting. A second survey has begun on sandy-clay soil. Preliminary indications are that timber harvesting increases nitrous oxide and methane emissions measurably. However, when these emissions are extrapolated to a wider area, the effects of harvesting on trace gases (expressed as a Global Warming Potential) are far smaller than the effects from the carbon loss.


During this reporting period, two bird expeditions and one bat expedition were made to the FLONA Tapajós by USFS collaborators from the Goeldi Museum. Birds were sampled with mist nets in May and in June 2001, and bats were sampled with mist nets in September 2001. Approximatly 800 birds were captured during the two expedtions and approximately 50 bats captured during the one expedition. These sampling trips completed the field work on the current low-impact logging study. In addition, foliage height profiles and other vegetation cover measurements were made on all netting sites in two logged blocks and two control blocks.

In addition to netting studies, bird observations and tape recordings of bird vocalizations were made to document the presence of various species in the FLONA Tapajós as part of our avian inventory studies. During the last expedition, a USFS reseracher worked with researchers from the Goeldi Museum to prepare a manuscript resulting from the Tapajós work entitled "Birds of the Tapajoós National Forest, Brazilian Amazon: A preliminary assessment." This manuscript which documents the presence of approximately 340 bird species in the FLONA Tapajós also characterizes the avifauna in terra firme forest at this site. This manuscript is expected to be completed in early 2002.

Data analysis for the studies of low impact logging effects on birds and bats are scheduled for summer 2002 (June/July) when one of the Museum collaborators will work with Texas Tech University researchers.

Finally, commercially logged sites outside the FLONA Tapajós were examined in an effort to find sites which would enable a comparison of low impact vs. typical commercially logged sites. Despite a detailed search it was found that all the commercial sites were unsuitable for comparison with our low impact sites in the FLONA. The problem with the available commercially logged sites is that there is high variance in treatment, many of the sites are in different forest sites, the extent of the cuts vary in size and uniformity of harvest, and most of the area is now severely fragmented. These factors will confound our analyses making it impossible to determine how much of the difference between low-impact logging and commercial logging results from the commercial practices and how much results from forest fragmentation, different forest types etc. The issue of fragmentation is quite serious as we know it has substantial effects on bird and bat distribution (e.g., Manaus studies) and will likely obscure commercial logging effects especially when compared with the low impact logging sites embeded in extensive primary forest in the FLONA. Because of this limitation, the proposal will be tocompare the low impact logging sites (harvest rates of 18 m3/ha) with nearby sites in the FLONA which have been harvested by commercial firms at about twice the harvest rate (40 m3/ha). This allows a better study design and will result in an unambiguous data set for analysis of effects of harvest intensity on bird populations.

Highlights | Activities and Progress | Publications | Staffing


Keller, M., M. Palace, and G.E. Hurtt. 2001. Biomass in the Tapajos National Forest, Brazil: Examination of Sampling and Allometric Uncertainties. Forest Ecology and Management 154: 371-382.

In Press

Pereira, R., J.C. Zweede, G.P. Asner, and M. Keller. In Press. Forest Canopy Damage and Recovery in Reduced Impact and Conventional Selective Logging in Eastern Para, Brazil. Forest Ecology and Management.

Asner, G.P., M. Keller, R. Pereira Jr. and J.C. Zweede. Remote sensing of selective logging in amazonia: assessing limitations based on detailed field observations, Landsat ETM+, and textural analysis. Remote Sensing of the Environment.

Highlights | Activities and Progress | Publications | Staffing


USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station

  • Dr. Thomas P. Holmes, Research Forester. Dr. Holmes is the leader of the economic assessment of the costs and benefits of Low-Impact Logging versus Conventional Logging in the Brazilian Amazon.

Tropical Forest Foundation

  • Johan Zweede B Forester, provides leadership and expertise in low-impact logging demonstration and training elements of the component.
  • Others


  • Paulo Barreto is collaborating in the economic analysis.

University of Florida

  • Dr. Doug Carter
  • Frederick Boltz
  • Geoffrey Blate

International Institute of Tropical Forestry

  • Dr. Michael Keller - Research Scientist, provides leadership and coordination for the involvement of numerous scientific institutions working on the FLONA Tapajos and the LBA Ecology Module.
  • Dr. Joseph Wunderle - Research Scientist, provides expertise and leadership in the avifauna component of the Tapajos Project.
  • Dr. Frank Wadsworth - Retired Research Silviculturalist provides silvicultural leadership and expertise in low impact logging.
  • Dr. Whendee Silver - also of the University of California Berkeley, provides expertise and leadership related to soil nutrients and below ground processes.

Yale University

  • Dr. James Grogan

Other Collaborators

  • Jason Neff - provides expertise to describe behavior of organic matter at the FLONA TapajoAlan Townsend and Greg Asner (University of Colorado) and Mercedes Bustamente (University of Brasilia) provide expertise in the analysis of satellite imagery and soil and vegetation samples from the vicinity of the FLONA Tapajos.

Highlights | Activities and Progress | Publications | Staffing

For further information, contact:
Dr. David Sandberg, Team Leader
3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, Oregon 97331 USA
(541)750-7265; (541)758-7760 fax
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