Institute Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia

Belém, Brazil

Institute Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia

Belém, Brazil
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Nepstad D.,Earth Innovation Institute | McGrath D.,Earth Innovation Institute | McGrath D.,Federal University of Pará | Stickler C.,Earth Innovation Institute | And 15 more authors.
Science | Year: 2014

The recent 70% decline in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon suggests that it is possible to manage the advance of a vast agricultural frontier. Enforcement of laws, interventions in soy and beef supply chains, restrictions on access to credit, and expansion of protected areas appear to have contributed to this decline, as did a decline in the demand for new deforestation. The supply chain interventions that fed into this deceleration are precariously dependent on corporate risk management, and public policies have relied excessively on punitive measures. Systems for delivering positive incentives for farmers to forgo deforestation have been designed but not fully implemented. Territorial approaches to deforestation have been effective and could consolidate progress in slowing deforestation while providing a framework for addressing other important dimensions of sustainable development.


Bowman M.S.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Soares-Filho B.S.,Federal University of Minas Gerais | Merry F.D.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Nepstad D.C.,Institute Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia | And 3 more authors.
Land Use Policy | Year: 2012

Fed by demand for beef within Brazil and in global markets, the Brazilian herd grew from 147 million head of cattle in 1990 to ≈200 million in 2007. Eighty-three percent of this expansion occurred in the Amazon and this trend is expected to continue as the industry bounces back from a recent agricultural downturn. Intensification of the cattle industry has been suggested as one way to reduce pressure on forest margins and spare land for soybean or sugarcane production, and is the cornerstone of Brazil's plan for mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, federal credit programs and research and development activities in Brazil are aligning to support intensification goals, but there is no guarantee that this push for intensification will decrease the demand for land at the forest margin and as result curb CO 2 emissions from deforestation. In this paper we use a spatially explicit rent model which incorporates the local effects of biophysical characteristics, infrastructure, land prices, and distance to markets and slaughterhouses to calculate 30-year Net Present Values (NPVs) of extensive cattle ranching across the Brazilian Amazon. We use the model to ask where extensive ranching is profitable and how land acquisition affects profitability. We estimate that between 17% and 80% of land in the Amazon would have moderate to high NPVs when ranched extensively if it were settled, i.e. if the rancher does not buy the land but acquires it through land grabbing. In addition, we estimate that between 9% and 13% of land in the Amazon is vulnerable to speculation (i.e. areas with positive NPVs only if land is settled and not purchased), which suggests that land speculation is an important driver of extensive ranching profitability, and may continue to be in the future. These results suggest that pro-intensification policies such as credit provision for improved pasture management and investment in more intensive production systems must be accompanied by implementation and enforcement of policies that alter the incentives to clear forest for pasture, discourage land speculation, and increase accountability for land management practices if intensification of the cattle sector is to deter new deforestation and displace production from low-yield, extensive cattle production systems in frontier regions of the Brazilian Amazon. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Brando P.M.,Institute Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia | Brando P.M.,University of Florida | Brando P.M.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Nepstad D.C.,Institute Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia | And 7 more authors.
Global Change Biology | Year: 2012

Large-scale wildfires are expected to accelerate forest dieback in Amazônia, but the fire vulnerability of tree species remains uncertain, in part due to the lack of studies relating fire-induced mortality to both fire behavior and plant traits. To address this gap, we established two sets of experiments in southern Amazonia. First, we tested which bark traits best predict heat transfer rates (R) through bark during experimental bole heating. Second, using data from a large-scale fire experiment, we tested the effects of tree wood density (WD), size, and estimated R (inverse of cambium insulation) on tree mortality after one to five fires. In the first experiment, bark thickness explained 82% of the variance in R, while the presence of water in the bark reduced the difference in temperature between the heat source and the vascular cambium, perhaps because of high latent heat of vaporization. This novel finding provides an important insight for improving mechanistic models of fire-induced cambium damage from tropical to temperate regions. In the second experiment, tree mortality increased with increasing fire intensity (i.e. as indicated by bark char height on tree boles), which was higher along the forest edge, during the 2007 drought, and when the fire return interval was 3 years instead of one. Contrary to other tropical studies, the relationship between mortality and fire intensity was strongest in the year following the fires, but continued for 3 years afterwards. Tree mortality was low (≤20%) for thick-barked individuals (≥18 mm) subjected to medium-intensity fires, and significantly decreased as a function of increasing tree diameter, height and wood density. Hence, fire-induced tree mortality was influenced not only by cambium insulation but also by other traits that reduce the indirect effects of fire. These results can be used to improve assessments of fire vulnerability of tropical forests. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Trumbore S.,Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry | Trumbore S.,University of California at Irvine | Brando P.,Institute Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia | Brando P.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Hartmann H.,Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Science | Year: 2015

Humans rely on healthy forests to supply energy, building materials, and food and to provide services such as storing carbon, hosting biodiversity, and regulating climate. Defining forest health integrates utilitarian and ecosystem measures of forest condition and function, implemented across a range of spatial scales. Although native forests are adapted to some level of disturbance, all forests now face novel stresses in the form of climate change, air pollution, and invasive pests. Detecting how intensification of these stresses will affect the trajectory of forests is a major scientific challenge that requires developing systems to assess the health of global forests. It is particularly critical to identify thresholds for rapid forest decline, because it can take many decades for forests to restore the services that they provide. © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved.


Soares-Filho B.,Federal University of Minas Gerais | Rajao R.,Federal University of Minas Gerais | Macedo M.,Federal University of Minas Gerais | Macedo M.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | And 5 more authors.
Science | Year: 2014

Brazil's controversial new Forest Code grants amnesty to illegal deforesters, but creates new mechanisms for forest conservation.


Markewitz D.,University of Georgia | Devine S.,University of Georgia | Davidson E.A.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Brando P.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | And 2 more authors.
New Phytologist | Year: 2010

Deep root water uptake in tropical Amazonian forests has been a major discovery during the last 15 yr. However, the effects of extended droughts, which may increase with climate change, on deep soil moisture utilization remain uncertain. The current study utilized a 1999-2005 record of volumetric water content (VWC) under a throughfall exclusion experiment to calibrate a one-dimensional model of the hydrologic system to estimate VWC, and to quantify the rate of root uptake through 11.5 m of soil. Simulations with root uptake compensation had a relative root mean square error (RRMSE) of 11% at 0-40 cm and < 5% at 350-1150 cm. The simulated contribution of deep root uptake under the control was c. 20% of water demand from 250 to 550 cm and c. 10% from 550 to 1150 cm. Furthermore, in years 2 (2001) and 3 (2002) of throughfall exclusion, deep root uptake increased as soil moisture was available but then declined to near zero in deep layers in 2003 and 2004. Deep root uptake was limited despite high VWC (i.e. > 0.30 cm3 cm-3). This limitation may partly be attributable to high residual water contents (θr) in these high-clay (70-90%) soils or due to high soil-to-root resistance. The ability of deep roots and soils to contribute increasing amounts of water with extended drought will be limited. © The Authors (2010). Journal compilation © New Phytologist Trust (2010).


DeFries R.,Columbia University | Herold M.,Wageningen University | Verchot L.,Center for International Forestry Research | Macedo M.N.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | And 2 more authors.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2013

The Brazilian state of Mato Grosso was a global deforestation hotspot in the early 2000s. Deforested land is used predominantly to produce meat for distal consumption either through cattle ranching or soya bean for livestock feed. Deforestation declined dramatically in the latter part of the decade through a combination of market forces, policies, enforcement and improved monitoring. This study assesses how representative the national-level drivers underlying Mato Grosso's export-oriented deforestation are in other tropical forest countries based on agricultural exports, commercial agriculture and urbanization. We also assess how pervasive the governance and technical monitoring capacity that enabled Mato Grosso's decline in deforestation is in other countries. We find that between 41 and 54 per cent of 2000-2005 deforestation in tropical forest countries (other than Brazil) occurred in countries with drivers similar to Brazil. Very few countries had nationallevel governance and capacity similar to Brazil. Results suggest that the ecological, hydrological and social consequences of land-use change for export-oriented agriculture as discussed in this Theme Issue were applicable in about one-third of all tropical forest countries in 2000-2005. However, the feasibility of replicating Mato Grosso's success with controlling deforestation is more limited. Production landscapes to support distal consumption similar to Mato Grosso are likely to become more prevalent and are unlikely to follow a land-use transition model with increasing forest cover. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


Castello L.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Macedo M.N.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Macedo M.N.,Institute Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia
Global Change Biology | Year: 2016

Hydrological connectivity regulates the structure and function of Amazonian freshwater ecosystems and the provisioning of services that sustain local populations. This connectivity is increasingly being disrupted by the construction of dams, mining, land-cover changes, and global climate change. This review analyzes these drivers of degradation, evaluates their impacts on hydrological connectivity, and identifies policy deficiencies that hinder freshwater ecosystem protection. There are 154 large hydroelectric dams in operation today, and 21 dams under construction. The current trajectory of dam construction will leave only three free-flowing tributaries in the next few decades if all 277 planned dams are completed. Land-cover changes driven by mining, dam and road construction, agriculture and cattle ranching have already affected ~20% of the Basin and up to ~50% of riparian forests in some regions. Global climate change will likely exacerbate these impacts by creating warmer and dryer conditions, with less predictable rainfall and more extreme events (e.g., droughts and floods). The resulting hydrological alterations are rapidly degrading freshwater ecosystems, both independently and via complex feedbacks and synergistic interactions. The ecosystem impacts include biodiversity loss, warmer stream temperatures, stronger and more frequent floodplain fires, and changes to biogeochemical cycles, transport of organic and inorganic materials, and freshwater community structure and function. The impacts also include reductions in water quality, fish yields, and availability of water for navigation, power generation, and human use. This degradation of Amazonian freshwater ecosystems cannot be curbed presently because existing policies are inconsistent across the Basin, ignore cumulative effects, and overlook the hydrological connectivity of freshwater ecosystems. Maintaining the integrity of these freshwater ecosystems requires a basinwide research and policy framework to understand and manage hydrological connectivity across multiple spatial scales and jurisdictional boundaries. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Stickler C.M.,Amazon Environmental Research Institute | Nepstad D.C.,Amazon Environmental Research Institute | Azevedo A.A.,Institute Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia | McGrath D.G.,Amazon Environmental Research Institute | McGrath D.G.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2013

Land-use regulations are a critical component of forest governance and conservation strategies, but their effectiveness in shaping landholder behaviour is poorly understood.We conducted a spatial and temporal analysis of the Brazilian ForestCode (BFC) to understand the patterns of regulatory compliance over time and across changes in the policy, and the implications of these compliance patterns for the perceived costs to landholders and environmental performance of agricultural landscapes in the southern Amazon state ofMato Grosso. Landholdings tended to remain in compliance or not according to their status at the beginning of the study period. The perceived economic burden of BFC compliance on soya bean and beef producers (US$3-5.6 billion in net present value of the land) may in part explain the massive, successful campaign launched by the farm lobby to change the BFC. The ecological benefits of compliance (e.g. greater connectivity and carbon) with the BFC are diffuse and do not compete effectively with the economic benefits of non-compliance that are perceived by landholders.Volatile regulation of land-use decisions that affect billions in economic rent that could be captured is an inadequate forest governance instrument; effectiveness of such regulations may increase when implemented in tandem with positive incentives for forest conservation. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


Asner G.P.,Carnegie Institution for Science | Alencar A.,University of Florida | Alencar A.,Institute Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia
New Phytologist | Year: 2010

Drought varies spatially and temporally throughout the Amazon basin, challenging efforts to assess ecological impacts via field measurements alone. Remote sensing offers a range of regional insights into drought-mediated changes in cloud cover and rainfall, canopy physiology, and fire. Here, we summarize remote sensing studies of Amazônia which indicate that: fires and burn scars are more common during drought years; hydrological function including floodplain area is significantly affected by drought; and land use affects the sensitivity of the forest to dry conditions and increases fire susceptibility during drought. We highlight two controversial areas of research centering on canopy physiological responses to drought and changes in subcanopy fires during drought. By comparing findings from field and satellite studies, we contend that current remote sensing observations and techniques cannot resolve these controversies using current satellite observations. We conclude that studies integrating multiple lines of evidence from physiological, disturbance-fire, and hydrological remote sensing, as well as field measurements, are critically needed to narrow our uncertainty of basin-level responses to drought and climate change. © The Authors (2010). Journal compilation © New Phytologist Trust (2010).

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