Land Management Practices and Fires in Amazonia: Using Remote Sensing to Assess Fire and Carbon Dynamics in Indigenous and Protected Areas in Mato Grosso, Brazil

Authors: Kaitlin Walker*, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Robert Griffin, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Kelsey Herndon, NASA SERVIR, Africa Flores, NASA SERVIR, Matt Finer, Amazon Conservation, Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP)
Topics: Land Use and Land Cover Change, Remote Sensing, Latin America
Keywords: Protected Areas, Indigenous, Amazonia, fire regimes, biomass burning, carbon emissions, tropical forests, remote sensing, Brazil, land management, deforestation, forest resources, conservation, NASA
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 17
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Sustainable management of tropical forests plays an essential role in mitigating climate change on a global scale. Previous studies demonstrate a relationship between protected areas, including indigenous territories, and reduced levels of deforestation. This suggests that land management strategies play an important role in the conservation of forest resources and ecosystem services. Fire is an important land management tool for maintaining forest health and clearing land for agriculture, urbanization, and road construction. Appropriate land management strategies can also reduce the impact of fires on the landscape. However, biomass burning due to fire can also contribute to increased carbon emissions. The 2019-2020 fire season in Mato Grosso, Brazil, saw an increase in the number of fires over previous years. Here, we use a combination of imagery from the ESA Sentinel-5 Precursor Aerosol Index, NASA Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), and high-frequency Planet imagery within the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project’s (MAAP) Amazon Real-Time Fire Monitoring application to detect and characterize fires in Mato Grosso, Brazil. We find that indigenous and protected areas cover 25% of the land area of Mato Grosso within the Amazon watershed and contain approximately 20% of recorded fires, or over 125 major fires, over the 2020 fire season. This study addresses the impact of land management practices on the frequency, distribution, and type of fires in indigenous and protected areas versus all other areas and evaluates their environmental impact on carbon emissions within these different management regimes.

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