Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Biogeosciences, 14, 2755-2765, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-14-2755-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
06 Jun 2017
Changing patterns of fire occurrence in proximity to forest edges, roads and rivers between NW Amazonian countries
Dolors Armenteras1, Joan Sebastian Barreto1, Karyn Tabor2, Roberto Molowny-Horas3, and Javier Retana3 1Laboratorio de Ecología del Paisaje y Modelación de Ecosistemas ECOLMOD, Departamento de Biología, Edif. 421, Of. 223, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia
2Conservation International, Arlington, VA 22202, USA
3CREAF i Unitat d'Ecología, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain
Abstract. Tropical forests in NW Amazonia are highly threatened by the expansion of the agricultural frontier and subsequent deforestation. Fire is used, both directly and indirectly, in Brazilian Amazonia to propagate deforestation and increase forest accessibility. Forest fragmentation, a measure of forest degradation, is also attributed to fire occurrence in the tropics. However, outside the Brazilian Legal Amazonia the role of fire in increasing accessibility and forest fragmentation is less explored. In this study, we compared fire regimes in five countries that share this tropical biome in the most north-westerly part of the Amazon Basin (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil). We analysed spatial differences in the timing of peak fire activity and in relation to proximity to roads and rivers using 12 years of MODIS active fire detections. We also distinguished patterns of fire in relation to forest fragmentation by analysing fire distance to the forest edge as a measure of fragmentation for each country. We found significant hemispheric differences in peak fire occurrence with the highest number of fires in the south in 2005 vs. 2007 in the north. Despite this, both hemispheres are equally affected by fire. We also found difference in peak fire occurrence by country. Fire peaked in February in Colombia and Venezuela, whereas it peaked in September in Brazil and Peru, and finally Ecuador presented two fire peaks in January and October. We confirmed the relationship between fires and forest fragmentation for all countries and also found significant differences in the distance between the fire and the forest edge for each country. Fires were associated with roads and rivers in most countries. These results can inform land use planning at the regional, national and subnational scales to minimize the contribution of road expansion and subsequent access to the Amazonian natural resources to fire occurrence and the associated deforestation and carbon emissions.

Citation: Armenteras, D., Barreto, J. S., Tabor, K., Molowny-Horas, R., and Retana, J.: Changing patterns of fire occurrence in proximity to forest edges, roads and rivers between NW Amazonian countries, Biogeosciences, 14, 2755-2765, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-14-2755-2017, 2017.
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Short summary
Tropical forests are highly threatened by the expansion of the agricultural frontier, use of fire and subsequent deforestation. NW Amazonia is the wettest part of the basin and the role of fire is still largely unknown in this subregion. In this study, we compared fire regimes in five countries sharing this tropical biome (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil). We studied fire activity in relation to proximity to roads and rivers and how fire occurs in relation to forest fragmentation.
Tropical forests are highly threatened by the expansion of the agricultural frontier, use of...
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