Exchange of experiences regarding Integrated Fire Management in the National Park Sempre Vivas, Minas Gerais

Exchange of experiences regarding Integrated Fire Management in the National Park Sempre Vivas, Minas Gerais

The Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), which is the national conservation authority of Brazil took part in an experience exchange in collaboration with the GIZ/AMBERO project “Prevention, Control and Monitoring of Bushfires in the Cerrado” in the process of planning and implementing controlled fires in Sempre Vivas National Park in May 2016.

The Sempre Vivas National Park is located in the Cerrado biome, which is considered to be the most species-rich savannah region in the world with up to 12.000 native botanical and animal species. With an area of more than 2 million square kilometers, the Brazilian Cerrado biome is almost six times the size of Germany. The annual deforestation rates and the accompanying emissions are even higher than the ones of the Amazon. In 2012, the Cerrado was responsible for approximately 60% of the land-use related greenhouse gas emissions in the whole of Brazil.

The Sempre Vivas National Park is one of the chosen pilot protected areas of the Cerrado project. It has an area of 125.000 hectares and is very important as a living space for endemic species.

There are only a few protected areas within the Cerrado and their species, as well as their structural richness are extremely endangered by annually recurring wild fires. On top of that, the fires lead to considerable greenhouse gas emissions, affect local community members’ health and endanger the sources of income of the local population.

The Cerrado project accompanies the introduction of an Integrated Fire Management (IFM) in Brazil and since then started helping to shift the classic paradigm of Zero-Fire-Policy to the use of controlled fires.

One main challenge during the introduction of the IMF in Brazil is the development of the necessary capacities with the partner institutions’ employees. Particularly the use of prescribed fires in the protected areas requires the right equipment, practical experiences, transversal knowledge and a fully prepared team to develop the activities during the year. In case of faulty applications it could lead to devastating effects as severe as uncontrolled large fires.

Therefore, the project supports the improvement of local fire management capacities and the exchange of experiences in the acquired techniques, which aim at the personnel of the protected areas as well as local communities.

The activities that took place in May 2016 in the Sempre Vivas National Park were an example for such exchanges of experiences. During the course of a training, the participants carried out the planning and use of prescribed fires in the National Park together with a fire management expert, employed by the Cerrado project.

In the context of IMF controlled fires can only be achieved, when factors like climate and weather conditions, biophysics, biologic and socio-cultural aspects, biomass fuel and the historic management of the area are taken into consideration. The successful implementation of these controlled fires will also consider the objectives of the protected area and will try to achieve the maximum level of protection.

In the Sempre Vivas National Park, those prescribed fires are usually carried out at the end of the rainy season or towards the beginning of the dry season. This has the objective to reduce the biomass fuel and therefore prevent the spreading of extensive and destructive forest fires at the end of the dry season, which are particularly intense and severe events. This means that the size of the area of particularly intense (particularly hot and long-lasting) fires will be as small as possible. In turn the Integrated Fire Management approach seeks to reduce the adverse impact of the fires on the environment, particularly on biodiversity, and local communities.

The fires in the protected areas are arranged in mosaic-like structures in order to support the emergence of different fire regimes and through that habitat structures. All in all, these prescribed fires, such as the ones from last May, should be planned in detail and arranged to be participatory. This reduces the potential for conflict with communities that live adjacent of the protected areas.

The objective of this exchange of experiences was to spread the IFM approach and to train other protected areas’ park managers, who want to make use of the successful approach in their areas in the near future.

Date: 30.07.2016
Topics: Exchange of experiences Integrated Fire Management, Cerrado, Brazil