USDA Forest Service

Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory

400 N 34th Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103

(206) 732-7800

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United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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International Projects

Bolivia | Brazil | Mexico | Paraguay

photo of measuring log consumption after a fire in BrazilFERA has successfully applied fire research projects in Brazil, (BrasilFire), and in Mexico, which have provided components of a fire danger rating system, biomass and carbon assessment, fire severity prediction, and air quality in the tropical forests and savannas across those two countries. We have also completed a fire needs assessment for Bolivia.

These projects are part of the "Transect of the Americas" program that replicates fire research across all of the major ecosystems in the Americas. The main sources of funding from this work are the International Programs branch of the USDA Forest Service (Fire Management) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).


FERA has been working in Brazil since 1993 under a project we named BrasilFire. Funding for this work has been shared between Forest Service Research appropriations, Forest Service International Programs funds, and USAID. Brazil provides the opportunity for fire research and development in tropical ecosystems, completing a transect of replicated studies in the boreal forests of Alaska and the temperate systems of the western United States and Mexico.

We have many important cooperators in Brazil, and work with each in turn to develop mutually beneficial research projects. Currently, those cooperators include the University of Brasilia (Heloisa Miranda), Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espacisas and University of Sao Paulo (Joao Andrade de Carvelho), Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas de Amazonia (Niro Higuchi), and the Tapajos National Forest (Selma Melgaco).


FCCS Fuelbed Development

A comprehensive set of FCCS fuelbeds for vegetation across Mexico is under development, with an additional project that will map these fuelbeds during a process to quantify spatial carbon emissions across North America.

Photo Series

A photo series, "Photo Series for Quanitfying Forest Fuels in Mexico: Montane Subtropical Forests of the Sierra Madre del Sur, and Temperate Forest and Montane Shrubland of the Northern Sierra Madre Oriental was published by the University of Washington. Funding was provided by the U.S. Forest Service, International Programs To request a copy, contact Dr. Ernesto Alvarado (


FERA was asked by the USDA Forest Service International Programs (IP), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Bolivia Forestry Project (BOLFOR) to assess the need and practicality of applied fire research in Brazil.

This assessment took place in October 2002, and a final report was submitted by the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team (FERA).


On September 12, 2007, after two weeks of unprecedented fire activity in the country, the President of Paraguay issued a disaster declaration because of severe damage to pasture lands, farmlands, community subsistence crops, and protected natural areas. This was the first time ever that Paraguay had declared a wildland fire situation as a national emergency. A variety of different areas burned, native forests and savannas, soybean, wheat, corn and sugarcane fields, pastures, and houses. For many of the poorer communities, the fires destroyed their entire food source. Estimates of the total area affected range from 150,000 to 600,000 hectares. Approximately 3.5%, 10,460 hectares, of Paraguay’s national park and reserve land was affected by the fires.

On September 7, 2007, USAID Paraguay requested assistance from the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) to conduct a rapid on-the- ground assessment of the situation. OFDA recommended a disaster declaration by the American Ambassador, and immediate response by the US in support of the Paraguayan government and people. A component of this support was the request that fire management program experts from the United States Forest Service evaluate Paraguay’s wildland fire issue and provide recommendations on actions the Government of Paraguay could take to improve the response to and prevention of large scale fire damage and identify key issues that can be addressed in order to develop of effective forest fire management approaches to protect Paraguay’s forest resources.

The U.S. Forest Service International Programs convened two teams of fire management and restoration experts from the USFS. The fire management team visited Paraguay the week of May 12. The team was integrated by Ed Hollenshead, Director of Fire and Aviation for the US Forest Service (USFS) Pacific Southwest Region, Isidoro Solis, Helicopter Manager on the Sequoia National Forest and program leader for USFS fire management support to Mexico, and Ernesto Alvarado, a FERA team member from U.S. Forest Service Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory in Seattle.

The goal of the trip was to assess fire management needs of Paraguay and to identify areas of cooperation between the U.S. Forest Service and Paraguay that will support the development of effective forest fire management approaches to protect Paraguay’s forest resources. During the assessment trip, the U.S. Forest Service team met stakeholders such as highly ranked government officials, volunteer fire fighter organizations, ranchers and farmers, NGOs. Universities, and rural communities. A report is forthcoming.

Team Lead: Ernesto Alvarado

Funding provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Forest Service International Programs.

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