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Photo of measuring large log combustionBrazil Program
Semi-Annual Report
USDA Forest Service
International Programs
July 1999

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 and socioecconomic information underlying the development of advanced forest management strategies, providing assistance with institution building and analysis for silviculture, environmental conservation, and ecotourism. 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 Forestry 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.

These projects contribute to forest management, fire management, and environmental management in both countries. The collaborative program integrates research and management in a rich experimental and social environment that adds rigor and breadth of experience to meet the shared challenges of ecosystem management.

This progress report, covering the six-month period of October 1998 through March 1999, 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 web site at:
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Fire and Environmental Change


  • Support planning for the 1999 and 2000 field seasons for the Fire Assessment Program continued.
    • Established a cooperative agreement with the University of Brasilia to fund a graduate student as a program assistant in 1999.
    • Completed reconnaissance of field photo series sites for data collection scheduled in August 1999 in the savanna ecosystem.Photo of work in Amazon forest
    • Completed Leaf Area Index (LAI) measurements for the Emas National Park photo series sites.
    • Continued searching for a traditional selective logging site to compare flammability with low impact logging and non-disturbed forest on the Tapajos National Forest. Potential communities adjacent to the Floresta Nacional do Tapajos have been identified.
    • Conducted planning and analysis on the flaming and smoldering combustion of tropical forest biomass, and primary forest flammability in Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso, and the Floresta Nacional do Tapajos, in preparation for experimental burns in August and September 1999.
  • Successfully negotiated a $600,000+ program of work with Brazilian and other USG partners to provide fire monitoring and management support to IBAMA "PROARCO" project for the 1999 field season.
  • Completed assessment for the first drought season after the low-impact logging at the Floresta Nacional do Tapajos. A one-season evaluation of canopy disturbance, fuel biomass, and microweather changes between undisturbed stands and forest subjected to a Low Impact Harvesting regime in primary forests for the entire dry season was also completed. The experiment was run in cooperation with INPA from June to December of 1998.
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Sustainable Forest Management


  • Cost-Benefit Analysis of Reduced-Impact Logging versus Conventional Logging in the Brazilian Amazon

  • Prepared a final report comparing the costs and benefits of Reduced Impact Logging versus Conventional Logging in the Paragominas timbershed, titled "Financial Costs and Benefits of Reduced-Impact Logging Relative to Conventional Logging Practices in the Brazilian Amazon." A copy of the report can be obtained by submitting a written request to Tom Holmes at the Southern Research Station, P.O. Box 12254, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2254. Translation into Portuguese is being completed in cooperation with EMBRAPA.

  • Conducted an economic analysis of the net present value of current and future harvests using RIL and CL practices under conditions of uncertain price and growth parameters. The analysis was reported in a Master of Science Thesis at the University of Florida titled "Bioeconomic Returns Under Uncertainty for Reduced-Impact and Conventional Logging Systems in the Brazilian Amazon."

  • Completed first post treatment measurements to test the efficacy and costs of 4 post-harvest silvicultural treatments on low impact logging sites.

  • Linkages with the evaluation of the effects of timber harvesting on the FLONA Tapajos and the Large Scale Atmospheric/Biosphere Project (LBA) continue. LBA currently provides partnerships with 171 researchers working in the area of the FLONA Tapajos. LBA is improving infrastructure for investigation in the area with a direct investment of over $1 million. Educational and training activities linked to LBA and to ecosystem management issues have begun in the Santarem area.

  • IBAMA completed the "edital" for the ITTO harvest areas and the final harvest plan is being developed with the participation of all the key parties.
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Fire and Environmental Change

Activities and Progress

Activities during the first half of 1999 involved continuing data analysis for the fire assessment, technical discussions in Washington D.C. and Brasília, and planning for an interagency, supplemental program of assistance to IBAMA through the Programa de Prevenção e Controle às Queimadas e aos Incêndios Florestais no Arco do Desflorestamento (PROARCO).

Rates of Land Burning

Infrared photo of Amazon regionDuring this reporting period, our analysis of fire occurrence rates in the Cerrado region for 1996, the most recent year for which sufficient Landsat Multi-spectral Scanner data is readily available, has been completed. Based on a change detection of ash-covered ground from 120 pairs of successive scenes, we estimated that a fraction of 0.14 of the land surface was burned during July, August, and September of that year within approximately 1.3x106 km2 in central Brazil. This corresponds with an average recurrence rate of approximately once in 10 years, considerably longer than the once in 2 to 4 years commonly assumed. These data are being provided to the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment as a partial basis for their official estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from Cerrado burning.

Analysis of Carbon and Energy Flux from Fires

Analysis has been completed on the spread, energy flux, and carbon flux of experimental fires at the IBGE Reserva Ecolôgica at Brasília, a large freely burning Cerrado fire in the Serra do Maranhão, and a slash fire in selectively harvested primary forest near Marabá. From these three fires we have developed a consistent method to predict the whole-fire sensible heat and carbon emissions, and the rate of fuel consumption. The method is based on remote sensing measurements of fire temperature, spread, and fire-line structure. This provides a method for characterizing fuel consumption per unit area burned for active fires as required for regional estimates of greenhouse gas emissions. This research resulted in co-authoring a manuscript describing use of fire remote sensing data and a coupled atmosphere-fire mode(1). Work continues on a draft manuscript entitled Remote Measurement of Wildfire Energy and Carbon Flux.

Remote Sensing Technology Transfer

The working group has progressed in a project to develop and apply a low-cost, thermal-infrared imaging spectrometer for use primarily in fire and ecosystem monitoring. Construction of an airborne thermal-infrared imager, the FireMapper, was begun with grant money from the USDA Small Business Innovative Research Program and a research joint venture involving the PSW Station and Space Instruments, Inc., of Encinitas, California. The FireMapper is expected to be used for deforestation and fire applications in Brazil and is intended for demonstrations there in the year 2000. A paper related to this effort, Field Applications of a Multi-spectral, Thermal Imaging Radiometer(2) was published in March 1999. Integration of visible-light and near-infrared Megaplus cameras within the FireMapper software framework was also begun under sponsorship of the supplemental program of support to PROARCO.


Photo of measuring large log combustionDuring this reporting period, invited presentations on the use of remote sensing in fire measurement based on data from the Brazil program were made to a workshop on Natural Disaster Mitigation sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and to a national conference on fire science and technology sponsored by the Joint Fire Science Committee of the USDA Forest Service and Department of the Interior.

Fire Risk Assessment

The development of combustion algorithms of tropical biomass in cooperation with the Combustion and Propulsion Laboratory of Brazil's Space Agency (INPE) continues. Plans were initiated to implement a complete experiment in 1999 and 2000 to study flaming and smoldering combustion of slash in two experimental plots at an INPE experimental farm outside of Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso. Assistance was also provided on the methods and analysis of a flaming and smoldering experiment under controlled conditions at the combustion laboratory at INPE's facilities in Cachoeira Paulista. Technical support continues for INPE graduate students. A Brazilian doctoral student's dissertation research at the University of Washington on the development of a fire risk model for Amazon forest landscapes considering forest physiology, fire meteorology, land use, and climate change will continue.

Development of a Fire Hazard Rating

The research partnership with the National Research Institute for the Amazon (INPA) located in Manaus, Photo of tower in Amazon clearcutand the Tropical Forest Foundation in Belem, Para will continue. A fire risk assessment on low impact and traditional harvesting at the Floresta Nacional do Tapajos in the state of Para on comparing fire risk between low-impact, traditional harvesting, and undisturbed primary forest is progressing. The assessment is being conducted on the Tapajos National Forest. A search was initiated to locate a traditional logging unit near the Floresta Nacional do Tapajos as there are not appropriate sites within the Forest. Several adjacent communities have been identified as potential sites.

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USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)

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

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

University of Washington

Ernesto Alvarado

University of Brasilia

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

University of Sao Paulo

Joao A. De Carvalho

INPE (Instituto Nacional De Pesquisas Espaciais)

Dr. Fernando de Souza Costa

INPA (Instituto Nacional De Pesquisas Da Amazonia)

Dr. Niro Higuchi


Joao Antonio Raposo Pereira, Program Coordinator
Helvecio Mafra Filho, Computer Analyst

National Center For Atmospheric Research

Dr. Teresa Campos, Atmospheric Chemist
James A. Brass
Robert Higgins

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Experimental Climate Prediction Center

Dr. John Roads

Tropical Forestry Foundation

Johan Zweede

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Sustainable Forest Management

Activities and Progress

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Reduced-Impact Logging Versus Conventional Logging in the Brazilian Amazon

The case study presented in the report entitled "Financial Costs and Benefits of Reduced-Impact Logging Relative to Conventional Logging Practices in the Brazilian Amazon" provides a comparison of the costs and revenues of a typical Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) system relative to a typical Conventional Logging (CL) system in the eastern Amazon. The study focuses on financial, operational, and technical aspects of CL vs. RIL systems. Although the study does not address biological or ecological questions directly, measurements were made of two key parameters affecting future forest productivity: damage to trees in the residual stand and the proportion of ground area disturbed.

An economic engineering approach was used to estimate productivity and cost parameters for typical RIL and CL operations. The standard for comparison were two harvest blocks at Fazenda Cauaxi in the Paragominas, Para timbershed. Standardized production and cost parameters were estimated by computing mean values using data collected at Fazenda Cauaxi and other comparable data sources. The volume of merchantable timber wasted in RIL and CL operations was computed using a census of RIL and CL harvesting blocks. Wasted timber was accounted for by adjusting variable costs to reflect true felling, bucking, skidding and log deck costs as well as adjusting stumpage costs to reflect differences in timber volumes recovered. Planning costs in advance of the harvest were compounded to reflect the opportunity cost of capital and training costs for instructing loggers in RIL methods were accounted for. Revenues were computed using a weighted average price based on species recovered.

RIL planning costs nearly doubled CL "up-front" costs. However, efficiency gains due to planning RIL operations were large. Skidding and log deck productivity increased dramatically on the typical RIL operation and led to a 39% reduction in these costs relative to CL. Better recovery of potential merchantable volume on the typical RIL site reduced average variable cost associated with wasted wood by 78% and reduced stumpage cost by 16%.

Overall, average total cost of a typical RIL system was 13% less than average total cost of a typical CL system. Net revenue for a typical RIL operation was 21% greater than net revenue for a typical CL system. The typical RIL system in the eastern Amazon is financially competitive with the typical CL system primarily due to enhancement of skidding productivity and reduction of wood waste.

The amount of ground area disturbed, per tree harvested, by the operation of heavy machinery on the RIL block was 37% less than on the CL block. On the RIL block, less than 10% of skid trails had mineral soil exposed whereas 100% of CL skid trails were cleared to mineral soil. These results suggested that regeneration will be delayed on the typical CL operation. In addition, the RIL system reduced the number of fatally damaged commercially valuable trees in the residual stand by more than 50 percent. The results suggest that future economic and ecological benefits provided by residual forest stands will be greater where RIL techniques are used.

Adoption of RIL methods are likely hindered by a number of factors, including: (1) the mistaken perception that RIL systems are more expensive than CL systems, (2) failure of CL cost accounting systems to recognize direct and stumpage costs associated with wasted wood, (3) the necessity of training crews in RIL methods and purchasing new equipment, (4) rates of return to CL systems are very high and do not provide an incentive to change behavior, (5) standing timber is undervalued by the market, and (6) environmental regulations are not fully enforced.

A second case study comparison of RIL and CL is underway at the FLONA Tapajós. To date, forest inventory and productivity data have been collected at the FLONA and at a CL site. We are currently waiting for the CL site to be logged to conduct the post-harvest inventories. Because fewer species are harvested in the Santarém timbershed than in the Paragominas timbershed, this case study will provide insight regarding how forest type and market conditions influence the comparative economics of RIL.

Planning is underway to design an analysis of data collected by FFT at other sites in Pará and Mato Grosso. This analysis will allow us investigate how RIL systems should be optimally adjusted to account for differences in forest type, input and output markets and industrial scale of operation.

In addition, a verbal agreement has been reached with EMBRAPA in Belém to translate the final report into Portuguese. Arrangements have also been made for an extension ("street") version of the final report to be prepared in Portuguese.
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Effects of Harvesting on the FLONA Tapajos and Other Areas

IBAMA issued the "edital" for the managed selective timber harvest sponsored by ITTO. TREVISO, a local Santarem firm, was selected by IBAMA for the harvest of timber from 3200 hectare site. The harvest rate is planned to be 640 ha. per year over the next five years. Harvests are planned to begin in 1999. At this point, TREVISO has delivered two versions of a harvest plan for the area to IBAMA. IBAMA has requested amendments to the plans in order to comply with the original conditions of the "edital." IITF partners, the Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF) and EMBRAPA, have been requested by IBAMA to assist with development of a third, and hopefully final, version of the harvest plan. Dr. Michael Keller is monitoring progress of the negotiations through contacts at IBAMA, TFF, and EMBRAPA.

In coordination with 7 ministries, the Brazilian government signed an implementing agreement for the NASA sponsored LBA-Ecology project with the US Government. IBAMA has granted approval for research to all LBA Ecology sponsored groups who plan work in the FLONA Tapajos. LBA investigators selected sites for major experimental infrastructure. IITF investigators and partners have conducted measurements of productivity (above and below-ground) as well as nutrient cycles in undisturbed forest on sand and clay soils to provide background comparisons to future cut sites. Dr. Whendee Silver (University of California, Berkeley) led this team that includes Dr. Jason Neff (University of Colorado), Dr. William de Mello (Universidade Federal Fluminense), Raimundo Cosme Oliveira Junior (EMBRAPA, Santarem) and three students.

The LBA-Ecology (NASA sponsored) office has agreed upon contracts with two Santarem construction firms for experimental and infrastructure improvements. This includes an office/laboratory facility in Santarem and facilities at the FLONA. Other facilities include 6 micro-meteorological towers 20-65 m height, base camp facilities including diesel generators, improved communication facilities, improvements to existing roads, and installation of deep wells to supply water to 2 IBAMA field camps. Contracts will be signed upon approval of the construction.

Work on forest structure and optical properties of vegetation began in both the FLONA Tapajos and TFF Fazenda Cauaxi sites in order to provide a basis for satellite identification of logging sites. Dr. Michael Keller and Dr. Greg Asner (University of Colorado) conducted ground surveys at Cauaxi to increase the base of optical data. GIS coverage of the logged sites has been developed and canopy structure data was gathered at both sites. Ground and aircraft acquired data will be used in developing models for canopies with varying levels of disturbance. Dr. Asner and Dr. Keller have submitted a proposal to NASA in order to acquire relevant images during 2000 as part of the NASA EO-1 program. They have also requested SPOT coverage (2 view angles) for the Cauaxi site using existing funds from the University of Colorado and NASA. While, current approaches only allow site identification for a limited time (2 years) following the logging, the inverse modeling approach will allow not only identification of logging sites but also analysis of the level of damage incurred in the harvest.

Field surveys of avifauna on the FLONA in collaboration with the Museo Goeldi have progressed according to plan. Dr. Joseph Wunderle and Dr. Mike Willig participated in background surveys as well as surveys of low impact logging sites on the FLONA Tapajos.

In November 1998, William G. Edwards and Dr. Michael Keller visited Brazil to coordinate USAID and FS programs for the current year. Meetings were held with Paulo Fontes and Adalberto Fihlo of IBAMA to discuss the latest draft of the implementation accord for forest management between the Forest Service and IBAMA and present the proposed work plan for 1999. We reached conceptual agreement on an implementation accord for signature by the Chief of the Forest Service and the President of IBAMA.

The Forest Service participated in the USAID Coordination meeting in Pirinopolis and met with our cooperators as well as other active organizations in Brazil including TFF. As closure to this meeting, the group made a field visit to Belem and Santarem where FS and LBA activities were showcased.

Discussions were initiated with Steve Cox & Laurenz Pinder of the Nature Conservancy regarding potential opportunities for collaboration in the Pantanal. Conversations were also held with Keith Alger from Bahia and Bob Bushbacker of WWF.

Post-Harvest Silviculture Study

The first measurements were taken on the FFT post-harvest silvicultural treatments at the low impact logging sites near Belem. This activity integrates on-site demonstration and training to test the efficacy and costs of 4 post-harvest silvicultural treatments as well as training foresters and practitioners in their design and application. The 4 methods include treatments to favor the next harvest trees, thinning to favor the 3rd harvest trees, vine cutting to favor 2nd and 3rd harvest trees and cleaning and planting of high value species. Results are encouraging. Evaluation will continue for three years.


Holmes, Thomas P., G. M. Blate, J. C. Zweede, R. Pereira Jr., P. Barreto, F. Boltz and R. Bausch. 1999. Financial costs and benefits of reduced-impact logging relative to conventional logging in the Eastern Amazon. Final Report.

Boltz, F. 1999. Bioeconomic returns under uncertainty for reduced-impact and conventional logging systems in the Brazilian Amazon. School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida. Master of Science Thesis.

Pattanayak, S. and E. Sills. 1999. Do tropical forests provide natural insurance? The case of small farmers in the Brazilian Amazon. Working Paper #23, The Duke - University of North Carolina Program in Latin American Studies. Durham, NC.
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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 - Forester, provides leadership and expertise in low-impact logging demonstration and training elements of the component.
Geoffrey Blate


Paulo Barreto is collaborating in the economic analysis.

University of Florida

Dr. Doug Carter
Frederick Boltz.

International Institute of Tropical Forestry

William G. Edwards - Assistant Director provides overall leadership in the forest management component particularly capacity building.
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 - 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.


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


Jason Neff - provides expertise to describe behavior of organic matter at the FLONA Tapajos.
Alan 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.


1 Bossert, J. E., J. M. Reisner, R. R. Linn, J. L. Winterkamp, R. Schaub, and P. J. Riggan. 1999. Validation of coupled atmosphere-fire behavior models. 3rd International Conference on Forest and Fire Research & 14th Conference on Fire and Forest Meteorology, Luso (Coimbra) Portugal, November 16-20, 1998.


2 Riggan, P. J. and J. W. Hoffman. 1999. Field applications of a multi-spectral, thermal imaging radiometer. Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, Aspen, Colorado, paper no. 168.



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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