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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 fire burning in the Brazilian cerradoBrasilFire 1997

Proposal and Work Plan

August 13, 1997


The Fire and Environmental Applications Research (FERA) Team (PNW) is continuing research in Brazil that started in 1993 as part of the Fire and Environmental Change project (PNW/PSW), as outlined in the implementing documentation for the USFS/IBAMA MOU. Funding for BRASILFIRE has been shared between Forest Service Research appropriations and a combination of IF/USAID funds, although FS research funds are less in FY97. Brazil provides the opportunity for fire R&D in tropical ecosystems to complete a transect (i.e. the Transect of the Americas) of replicated studies in the boreal forests of interior Alaska and in temperate ecosystems in the western United States and Mexico.

FERA involves scientists at the Corvallis Forestry Sciences Laboratory (David Sandberg), Seattle Forestry Sciences Laboratory (Roger Ottmar and Bob Vihnanek), and the University of Washington (Ernesto Alvarado and Gustavo Negrieros). Our principal counterparts in Brazil have been IBAMA (Joao Pereira), Universidad do Brasilia, UnB (Heloisa Miranda), IPAM/Woods Hole (Daniel Nepstad and Gustavo Negrieros), the Corpo do Bombeiros (Vanius, Mendes,Villela), INPE (Joao Carvalho), and EMBRAPA/ICRAF (Castilla). The fire program has also been closely aligned with fire managers in both countries (i.e. PREVFOGO).

In FY'96, FERA completed the and reported on several collaborative studies with USAID.   A study of Brazilian firefighters' exposure to air toxics in smoke was completed, and the technology transfered in Brazil, A preliminary study of community exposure in Rondonia has been published. We also published on our fire risk assessment in the Cerrado, where photo-series inventory tools and fuel consumption studies are consumption studies are about two-thirds complete. Finally, we initiated a methodological development for fire risk in the Amazon forest near the ecotone with the Cerrado, and published preliminary results.

In FY'97, FERA continues work in the Cerrado and Amazon forests, investigating flammability in the primary forest and cleared forest, and in diverse types of Cerrado. We are especially pleased to expand the scope of our studies with UnB and with the Brazilian space agency, INPE.
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BRASILFIRE has three principal components in each of the tropical ecosystems, i.e. in the Cerrado (including Campos and Cerradao) and tropical forest (including evergreen, deciduous, and transitional types). We have yet to begin working in the Atlantic forest or caatinga:

Fire Risk Assessment: Assess the likelihood of fire occurrence and severity that threatens human values and/or ecosystem integrity, and how that risk would change with different climates, land-use patterns, and alternative management strategies. Each risk assessment involves a development of inventory techniques such as the Photo Series, development of models that predict Fuel Moisture from microclimate and vegetation structure, and models that predict Biomass Consumption and fire behavior in free-burning fires. Those results are used to develop a Flammability Model for each ecosystem and an Extensive Inventory of the conditions within each bioclimatic region. Finally, scenarios will be applied to assess the Future Risk under changing conditions.

Smoke Impact Assessment: The smoke from the widespread burning in the tropical forest and the cerrado in Brazil cause widespread regional air pollution, significant contributions to Greenhouse gas buildup in the global atmosphere, and constitute a serious human health risk. FERA collaborates with Phil Riggan (PSW) and Darold Ward (INT) by providing ground-truth support for the inventory and measurement of air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. FERA has the lead for assessing human exposures and health risks, although that is not expected to be an emphasis in FY97.

Ecological Role of Fire: Fire plays a critical role in defining the transitional ecotone between the tropical forest and the cerrado, in maintaining the structure composition, and productivity of the various types of cerrado, and the structure of certain tropical forest types in the upper Amazon basin. Fire threatens the integrity of M.Atlantica and most M.Amazonia forests and some forests/woodlands that are habitat for endangered species (such as the Golden Tamarind Monkey). Cultural practices and climate change threaten to change the role of fire in all of these cases, and knowledge is insufficient at present to predict the ecological consequences of these changes. FERA is working with several other institutes to contribute to the basic and applied knowledge of the role of fire in these systems, and is supporting the Ph.D. research of Gustavo Negreiros.  
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Research Activities

Cerrado (Priority One): Our first priority is to complete the photo series and biomass consumption modeling in the cerrado ecosystems. We will participate in authoring a book on the ecology of the ecosystems. We will continuing inventory fire effects studies at our principal research sites at the I.G.B.E. Reserve and Aquas Emindadas. We will extend the photo series to the Emas national park and the reserve at Diamantina to transect the moisture gradient within the cerrado ecosystems.

M.Amazonia/Cerrado Transition (Priority Two): FERA will continue our investigation of the role of fire and fire risk assessment in the "Arc of Deforestation". Photo series development will begin (four years is expected for completion), fuel moisture studies will be continued, and fire behavior and biomass consumption studies will begin at Paragominas, Santana do Araguia, and Alta Floresta. Site selection and methodological development will procees near Santarem. This work will be done in partnership with IPAM and INPE in a range of sites including primary and secondary forests, in traditionally-harvested and "low-impact harvesting" trials.

M.Amazonia--Tapajos National Forest (Priority Three): At full funding, FERA will begin the fire risk assessment and ecological assessment of fire in central Amazonia, collaborating with the International Institute of Tropical Forestry to develop the intensive-site investigation into the ecology of secondary forests and the effect of low-impact harvesting there.

Other opportunities: If the opportunity arises, including outside funding and a continuation of Brazilian collaborator interest, FERA will initiate or resume work in the following areas: (1) Community Health Impacts from smoke exposure, (2) Fire Risk Assessment in M.Atlantica, and (3) Tocantins Ecotones Study in collaboration with MMA. We will also establish liaisons in Brazil to investigate the climatology of the region needed to provide the comprehensive regional fire risk assessment and global change assessment for the tropics.

Long-Term Plans

FERA will continue collaborative research and development in Brazil as long as interest and funding is available, hopefully for ten years or more. BRASILFIRE represents about ten percent of total FERA R&D. We enjoy a durable partnership with IBAMA, UnB, INPE, and WHRC/IPAM; and are seeking other cooperators. BRASILFIRE is critical to fulfilling our mission to provide fire risk assessments, global change assessments, and air pollution impact assessments that can be applied consistently to any location in the world. It contributes to our domestic mission by providing an independent environment to test theories and models developed for temperate ecosystems, by attracting world-class cooperators that bring intellectual excellence to our domestic agenda, and by providing an efficient field laboratory that is simply not available in the United States. All of the models and assessments developed in Brazil will be equally applicable domestically. Ancillary benefits include knowledge and systems being made available to forest management and environmental quality improvement in Brazil, maintenance of world leadership in the modeling of vegetation systems response to environmental stress, and support for international policy analysis.
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Research Publications: FERA will continue to publish preliminary results at International symposia and final results in refereed journals. Joint authorship with Brazilian counterparts is sought on all publications.

Science and Management Reports: All findings and management implications are interpreted in products such as videotapes, brochures, guidebooks, and user manuals targeted specifically to the end-user. FERA has developed an array of Portuguese-language products for use by our cooperators.

Modeling and Expertise: FERA provides unique expertise and modeling skills in the science of wildland fire, climatology, and air quality to interdisciplinary teams. In turn, we gain access to the ecological, sociological, and policy expertise of our partners. Together, we provide a rigorous, global, consistent capacity to conduct scientific assessments in support of policy analysis.


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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