Carbon sequestrationFireForest degradationForest regrowth

Fire reverses carbon sink in seasonally flooded forests in southern Amazonia

Our recent research highlights the negative effects of fire on the forest carbon sink in seasonally flooded forests in southern Amazonia, an area rich in diversity at the forest-savanna transition, including permanent forest plots from the Parque Estadual Araguaia.

Map showing fire occurrence, 2000 – 2013, in the Araguaia State Park – MT, southern Amazonia. Source: Souza Neves MSc dissertation – UNEMAT.

Over recent decades, biomass gains in remaining old-growth Amazonia forests have declined due to environmental change. Amazonia’s huge size and complexity make understanding these changes, drivers, and consequences very challenging. Here, using a network of permanent monitoring plots at the Amazon–Cerrado transition, we quantify recent biomass carbon changes and explore their environmental drivers.

The research was led by researchers from Mato Grosso State University, Brazil, including Denis Nogueira, Prof. Beatriz Marimon, Prof. Marimon-Junior, and researchers from the UK, including Prof. Ted Feldpausch, amongst others. Our study area covers 30 plots of upland and riparian forests sampled at least twice between 1996 and 2016 and subject to various levels of fire and drought. Using these plots, the study: (1) estimated the long-term biomass change rate; (2) determined the extent to which forest changes are influenced by forest type; and (3) assessed the threat to forests from ongoing environmental change. Overall, there was no net change in biomass, but there was clear variation among different forest types. Burning occurred at least once in 8 of the 12 riparian forests, while only 1 of the 18 upland forests burned, resulting in losses of carbon in burned riparian forests. Net biomass gains prevailed among other riparian and upland forests throughout Amazonia. Our results reveal an unanticipated vulnerability of riparian forests to fire, likely aggravated by drought, and threatening ecosystem conservation at the Amazon southern margins. (full open-access article)

Read more at:

Impacts of Fire on Forest Biomass Dynamics at the Southern Amazon Edge by Nogueira, D.S., B.S. Marimon, B.H. Marimon-Junior, E.A. Oliveira, P. Morandi, S.M. Reis, F. Elias, E.C. Neves, T.R. Feldpausch, J. Lloyd, and O.L. Phillips. Impacts of Fire on Forest Biomass Dynamics at the Southern Amazon Edge. Environmental Conservation:1-8. doi:10.1017/S0376892919000110

The research was a collaboration between researchers from the UK and Brazil. T. Feldpausch was supported by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC, grant NE/N011570/1,  T. Feldpausch – PI).

Fire occurrence in Mato Grosso State, southern border of Amazonia. Photo credit: Prof Ben Hur Marimon.