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Pacific Northwest Research Station
Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


USDA Forest Service International Programs
U.S. Agency for International Development
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Photo of researchers working in Amazon forestBrazil Report
International Forestry
USDA Forest Service
July 1997


Fire and Environmental Change in Tropical Ecosystems


Measured fine fuel moisture drying rates in primary and logged forests in Southern Para, in order to assess the length of the rainless period before they become susceptible to fires. The field experiments were the first in a series to model the impact of harvesting and climate change on the flammability of Amazonian forests.

Completed support planning for August/September field season: Photo series plots in Chapada Da Diamentina National Park Joint research with INPE in Mato Grosso to measure fire physics of pasture and slash burning Field experiments with WHRI/IPAM in Para to measure flammability and fire behavior in small-scale burns in primary and disturbed forests.

Presented the analysis of exposure data of rural residents to smoke in Rondonia at the 13th Conference on Fire and Forest Meteorology, and the Pacific Northwest Air Pollution Control Association.

Publication of the concept of a model of fire risk in Amazonia, considering forest physiology, fire meteorology, land use, and climate change (Negrieros and others 1997).

A new partnership has been developed between the Forest Service PSW Research Station and the Fluid Dynamics Group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Remote sensing measurements from experimental fires of the Reserva Ecological do IBGE are providing a basis for testing interactive models of fire behavior and atmospheric dynamics developed by Los Alamos.

Planning was advanced for the development of an advanced imaging spectrometer for use primarily in fire and deforestation monitoring in Brazil.

IBAMA/DIRCOF has completed initial processing of data to select clear scenes in regions of active harvesting in the states of Para, Mato Grosso, and Rondonia. These are being compared with the last completed survey of deforestation conducted by INPE to determine modern rates of land use, and with areas of permitted harvesting to provide a measure of rates of compliance with Federal harvesting regulations.
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Sustainable Forest Management Technologies and Practices


An agreement for establishing four 100-acre research and demonstration blocks of low-impact logging on the Tapajos National Forest was finalized between Tropical Forest Foundation, CIFOR, Forest Service -- IITF, and IBAMA. Pre-harvest field work and inventory of the blocks have been completed in preparation for harvest in the fall of 1997.

Linkages were strengthened between the Tapajos Project and the Brazilian-led Large-Scale Atmosphere Biosphere project (LBA), and with the Brazilian Space Agency, IBAMA, several Brazilian universities, NASA and other scientific organizations in Brazil, the U.S. and Europe.

Working relationships with new Brazilian leadership in IBAMA at the national level as well as the Tapajos National Forest level were initiated.

At the request of IBAMA, technical and policy assistance was provided on content and process for the development of the National General Development Plan for the national forest system in Brazil.
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Fire and Environmental Change in Tropical Ecosystems

Activities and Progress

Photo Series

    The development of a biomass estimation photo series for a range of fuel types is continuing in cooperation with Dr. Heloisa Miranda and the University of Brazilia. An additional 10 sites will be located and inventoried near Chapada Da Diamantina in 1997. Logistical support and planning has been completed for the 1997 field campaign.

Red bulletHuman Health RiskBrazilian child amidst smoke

    The analysis and assessment of the exposure of rural residence to smoke at a site in Rondonia has been presented at the Pacific Northwest Air Pollution Control Association, Forest Fire and Meteorology Conference, and at several training sessions in the United States. Continued interest by the Brazilian government may lead to large support and a continuation of the original effort. The government has requested a presentation at a major conference to be held in Maraba in September 1997.

red bulletFire Risk Assessment

    Joint research site in Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso will be monitored this summer. Four experimental slash burns will be conducted in August 1997 jointly with Dr. Joao Andrade, a scientist from INPE, Brazil. Fire physics, fire behavior, and fuel consumption will be monitored on the slash burns. Microclimate, surface and aerial biomass, and fuel moisture of adjacent primary forest will be monitored to assess the conditions necessary for fires to escape onto primary forest. Biomass consumption and burned area extent in primary forest from escaped fires will be assessed. The four units were selected and slashed on May 1997. It is the first field venture with the Brazilian space agency to model wildfire risk from cultural burning. Next year's slash burn sites are scheduled for the Tapajos region.

    Plans have been made to conduct field experiments near Paragominas, Para throughout this summer and fall in conjunction with WHRC and IPAM to measure flammability, fire behavior, and biomass consumption in a large set of small-scale burns in the primary and disturbed forests in the forest-savanna tension zone. Monitoring will include weather, fuel moisture, surface and aerial biomass, and vegetation water stress in a series of small experimental plots that will be burned this year during the dry season from August to late October. Weather and fuel conditions that allow fire to ignite and reach a steady state condition will be monitored. Fire behavior and fuel consumption will be assessed on the plots.

red bulletMapping Cerrado Communities  

    The terrain map from the Reserva Ecológica do IBGE at Brasília was digitized and registered to remote sensing imagery from flights in 1994 with the EDRIS spectrometer. Registered imagery provides the first modern, high-resolution aerial coverage of the Reserva from which relations will be developed between reflectance signatures and Cerrado community types. The data are being provided to both IBGE and UnB and will contribute to estimates of biomass recovery from different seasons of burning in the IBGE-UnB fire ecology project.

red bulletRates of Land Burning

    In a project supported both by USAID and the Research and Scientific Exchange Division of USDA/FAS/ICD, analyses are continuing to determine the rates of fire occurrence across central Brazil by a change detection of ash-covered ground from successive scenes of Landsat Multi-Spectral Scanner (MSS) data. During this reporting period, the number of pairs of analyzed scenes has been increased from 17 to 63. The gross analyses of scenes from 1986 (the last year of readily available, widespread MSS coverage) continue to indicate a lower fire return interval than previously described in the literature.

red bulletLos Alamos National Laboratory Partnership

    A partnership has been developed between the Forest Service PSW Research Station and the Fluid Dynamics Group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Remote sensing measurements of temperature, areal rate of spread, radiant emissions, and flame zone geometry from experimental fires at the Tapera area of the Reserva Ecológica do IBGE are providing a basis for testing interactive models of fire behavior and atmospheric dynamics developed by Los Alamos.

    The Forest Service has developed sequential, registered data from the prescribed fire in September 1992 including remote sensing measurements from the ERDIS spectrometer and atmospheric measurements of carbon, heat, and water flux and atmospheric turbulence measured from the King Air research aircraft of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. These will be supplemented by in situ measurements by Dra. Heloisa Miranda and Dr. Antonio Miranda (UnB) of biomass consumption, flame temperature, and ground level winds. Final results are expected to yield improved fire behavior models and greater knowledge of fire behavior in Cerrado fuels.

red bulletRemote Sensing Technology Transfer

    Planning was advanced for the development of an advanced imaging spectrometer for use primarily in fire and deforestation monitoring in Brazil. A partnership is being developed that will involve NASA ARC and INPE engineers to construct a multispectral aircraft-based imager for the Forest Service, which will then deploy the instrument as part of its cooperative program with IBAMA. Guidance has also been provided to IBAMA regarding opportunities for placing excess U.S. government aircraft in Brazil to support IBAMA's resource information needs.
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Modeling and Synthesis

red bulletFire Risk Assessment

    Field experiments to assess fuel drying rates were the first in a series to model the impact of harvesting and climate change on the flammability of Amazonian forests. Currently, several indexes are being evaluated to assess vegetation flammability on the Amazon forest. The indexes will be tested with data on fine fuel moisture drying rates that were measured in primary and logged forests in southern Para last year, and AVHRR fire occurrence based on AVHRR imagery from INPE.

red bulletFlammability Model

    In conjunction with Gustavo Negreiros, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington, a conceptual model was developed to assess fire occurrence, severity, and effects on the Amazon-Cerrado ecotone. This model of fire risk in Amazonia considers forest physiology, fire meteorology, land use dynamics, and climate change. It will allow assessment of the role of fire in shifting the ecotone under current and future land use and climate scenarios. Several data sets have been compiled from Brazilian and U.S. agencies that will be used for model development and testing. Some of the data sets that were integrated are Landsat TM imagery, soils, vegetation, precipitation, and land use. Vegetation water stress will be integrated from a deep-rooting model developed by the WHRC. Fire ignitions will be assessed from AVHRR imagery from INPE, and a fire occurrence survey that will be conducted.

red bulletDeforestation Data Analysis

    Remote sensing data from the 1996 aircraft campaign (a partnership of IBAMA, the Forest Service PSW Station, and NASA Ames Research Center) has been processed by IBAMA/DIRCOF. IBAMA has completed an initial processing of data to select clear scenes in regions of active harvesting in the states of Pará, Mato Grosso, and Rondônia. These are being compared with the last completed survey of deforestation conducted by INPE, the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, to determine modern rates of land use and with areas of permitted harvesting to provide a measure of rates of compliance with Federal regulations. The project is providing a testing ground for systems of forest resource monitoring, management, and regulation.

red bulletTrace Gas Data Synthesis

    Data synthesis and modeling has continued from previous airborne campaigns to estimate the emission of greenhouse gases from widespread burning in central Brazil. During this reporting period, data recorded by FUNCEME (the Fundação Cearense de Meteorologia e Recursos Hídricos) from atmospheric measurements made during 1994 and a portion of the 1995 aircraft campaigns have been made available to the U.S. investigators at the Forest Service and NCAR. Trace gas data from sampling in a large number of smoke plumes and palls in 1992 and 1994 have been merged with data from 1995 sampling in Rondônia. Regression analyses from the combined data sets are nearing completion.

Contributions from the Working Group were reported during October in a series of presentations and papers at the 3rd Brazilian Congress of Ecology, held at Brasília. Presentations were made on the fire and climate change assessment, ecological impacts of fire in Cerrado, the IBAMA/DIRCOF Amazon Environmental Monitoring Project, and measurements of productivity and energy flux in Cerrado ecosystems. The Cerrado productivity and energy flux measurements were also reported in:

Miranda, A. C., H. S. Miranda, J. Lloyd, J. Grace, J. A. McIntyre, P. Meir, P. Riggan, R. Lockwood, and J. Brass. 1996. Carbon dioxide fluxes over a cerrado sensu stricto in central Brazil. p. 353-363 In: Amazonian deforestation and climate. Edited by J. H. C. Gash, C. A. Nobre, J. M. Roberts, and R. L. Victoria. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester. Miranda, A. C., H. S. Miranda, J. Lloyd, J. Grace, R. J. Francey, J. A. McIntyre, P. Meir, P. Riggan, R. Lockwood, and J. Brass. 1997. Fluxes of carbon, water, and energy over Brazilian cerrado: an analysis using eddy covariance and stable isotopes. Plant, Cell, and Environment 20: 315-328.
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Success Stories

The Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team (FERA) continues to become increasingly integrated with Brazilian institutions and other entities working in Brazil to provide a comprehensive package to assess fire risk, health impacts, and the ecological role of fire in tropical ecosystems.

Successful partnerships continue with IBAMA, INPA, IPAM/Woods Hole, IPAM, Corpo do Bombeiros, and EMBRAPA. This year, the Combustion Science Division of INPE will be added to that list, and will enlarge collaboration in the State of Tocantins with the Brazilian Ecotones project.

The team is leading an integrated field-research, fire modeling, and technology transfer effort that spans the boreal forests of Interior Alaska, temperate ecosystems in the contiguous United States, and in the tropical systems of Brasil. Study in each region adds rigor to modeling of fire in each of the other regions so that the knowledge gained in Alaska is equally applicable in Brasil and the knowledge gained in Brasil can be applied in the United States. Consistent methodology also allows local residents, forest managers, and ecosystem modelers to use the same information framework across all scales.
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USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW) David V. Sandberg, Research Forester/Project Leader Roger D. Ottmar, Research Forester, Robert E. Vihnanek, Research Forester Sue A. Ferguson, Meteorologist

USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) Dr. Philip J. Riggan, Ecologist/Project Leader Robert N. Lockwood, Ecologist Robert Tissell, Computer Analyst Jennifer Rechel, Geographer

NASA Ames Research Center James A. Brass, Ecosystem Scientist Higgins, Electronics Engineer Dr. Edward Hildum, Electronics Engineer

University of Brasília Dra. Heloisa Miranda, Chair -- Department of Ecology Dr. Antonio Miranda, Micrometerologist

IBAMA/DIRCOF João Antonio Raposo Pereira, Program Coordinator Helvecio Mafra Filho, Computer Analyst

National Center for Atmospheric Research Dr. Teresa Campos, Atmospheric Chemist

INPE Joao A. De Carvalho, Cachoeira Paulista

Museo Paraense "Emilio Goeldi" Rafael de Paiva Salomao

Universidade do Tocantins Guido Ranzani

ECOATIVA -- Cooperativa Multiprofissional de Consultoria Socio Ambiental Moira Adams Katia Carvalheiro

University of Washington Ernesto Alvarado
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Sustainable Forest Management Technologies and Practices

Activities and Progress

Field Research and Demonstration

In January, Ms. Jan Engert and Mr. William Edwards spent two days in Brasilia to establish working relationships with the new leadership for Brazilian National Forests. A number of topics were explored related to this collaboration. The Forest Service initiated follow up action on the identified areas of interest. Some examples included the relationship of TFF and the Forest Service on the Tapajos Project, short term visa needs for Forest Service/IBAMA collaborators on the Tapajos, and to provide IBAMA with the opportunity to refocus areas of mutual interest for future activities, including training and development for IBAMA personnel.

A major accomplishment during this reporting period was the completion of agreements with the Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF) including their partnership with CIFOR to develop low impact logging demonstration sites on the Tapajos National Forest near Santarem in the State of Para. These sites are located within the planned ITTO harvest to be conducted by IBAMA and are a component of the overall Tapajos Harvest evaluation project. TFF essentially completed the inventory and planning work to proceed with the harvest using low impact methods during this period. Preliminary planning was started with TFF to provide hands on training for groups of foresters from industry, IBAMA, and NGOs on low impact logging procedures. Discussions focused on providing training for 20 to 30 people within the next year.

Progress continues related to the evaluation of harvesting in the Tapajos National Forest. Dr. Michael Keller continues as the lead person for this project component. He visited Brazil in March during which time he met with the new IBAMA leadership in Brasilia and Santarem. These meetings focused on the evaluation of harvesting activities to be conducted by TFF using low impact logging methods on two 100-hectare tracts as well as the larger tracts to be harvested under IITO guidelines on the Tapajos National Forest. Six days were devoted to baseline data acquisition. Numerous coordination meetings occurred in Manaus, Sao Paulo, and Brasilia with Brazilian organizations to further develop the linkages with the Brazilian LBA project in which the Tapajos Project would provide the selective harvest model for evaluation. Dissemination and Training

Technical assistance at the request of IBAMA regarding the general development plan for the National Forests in Brazil was provided. Ms. Joy Berg, recent Forest Supervisor and currently on the Forest Service National staff for ecosystem management visited Brazil in mid-February to work with the FLONA Chiefs on a detailed review of their draft general development plan. The assistance focused on the principles of planning, levels of planning and the relationships between National, Regional, ecosystem and project level planning. These discussions included numerous multiple use management issues which were of concern to the FLONA Chiefs.

Training opportunities were identified for IBAMA personnel in the US and Brazil. Sponsorship was offered for the Colorado State University short course in protected area management. IBAMA was also notified of the same course to be offered in Brazil. Colorado State was unable to accommodate the IBAMA nominee because the application was late. The person was encouraged to apply again next year. No action was taken to nominate participants for the session in Brazil.

Areas of concern in the program include the limited ability of IBAMA to participate in training offered in English due to limited language skills. A new area of concern during this period is a change in the method used by IBAMA to issue invitations for collaborators in the Tapajos Project. Invitations were not forthcoming for a planned visit of collaborators in March despite almost weekly contact with the Brasilia office and assurances the issue would be resolved. This problem continues. USAID Brasilia is providing requested assistance to resolve this issue for a visit planned in late August.

Success Stories

The major success story for this period was the completion of the agreement with TFF, the rapid mobilization of TFF personnel to Santarem and the timely completion of the pre-harvest field work. Securing the participation of CIFOR in the project will strengthen the resulting evaluation for IBAMA and the scientific community.

A second success is the indication of support from IBAMA for the LBA project led by Brazil and in cooperation with NASA and others. This will considerably strengthen the importance of the Tapajos project in the assessment of global change phenomena in the Amazon Basin.
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International Institute of Tropical Forestry William G. Edwards, Assistant Director. Mr. Edwards provides overall leadership to the forest management component of the project particularly institutional strengthening with IBAMA. Dr. Michael Keller, Research Scientist. Dr. Keller provides leadership and coordination for the involvement of numerous institutions in the Tapajos Project. He is instrumental in establishing linkages between the Tapajos Project and the LBA project involving numerous other collaborators

USDA Forest Service, Washington Office Jan Engert, Brazil Program Coordinator. Ms. Engert provides overall leadership and coordination for Brazil activities for the agency. Joy Berg, Ecosystems Management Staff. Ms. Berg provided insights based on over twenty years experience in public land management under the multiple use philosophy including current experience in strategic and operational planning as a Forest Supervisor at the national forest level in a variety of ecological and cultural settings.
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For more information on these projects, please contact Jan Engert, International Programs/Brazil Coordinator USDA Forest Service 1099 14th Street NW, Suite 5500W Washington, D.C. 20005 Phone: (202)273-4752 Fax: (202)273-4748 email: jengert/

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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