Brazil: Fire and Flood Responses in the Amazon
Full Case Study (PDF, 231 Kb)
Acre State, in Brazil’s Amazon, is the country’s most Western state, bordering Peru and Bolivia. In the past 6 years, the State has suffered two severe droughts; the 2005 drought was considered a 100 year event. It was followed five years later by another one of equal severity but more widespread in its impacts. In 2005, the early stages of the drought became evident in May; a ban on fires was declared in August, but it was not until late September that a state of emergency was declared by officials. By then, significant fire damage had occurred; it was not until October rains came that fires were completely controlled.
At the time of the fire ban, the government of Acre set up a fire response situation room to monitor the status of fire activity, to coordinate the activities of various government offices, and to direct fire-fighting resources to high priority areas. Using satellite data and information gathered by daily overflights, the situation room was able to coordinate what resources were available to fight fires; priority was given to the protection of rural population and infrastructure. Damage to both open areas and Amazon forest was extensive, nonetheless, with some 500,000 hectares affected.
With the onset of the drought of 2010, the Acre government responded sooner, with a state of emergency declared in early August and the situation room activated. Again, the goal of the program, given limited resources, was to direct fire-fighting responses to critical areas.
Based on its performance in 2005, the situation room model has been adopted by the Acre government for use in response to other extreme events; situation rooms were activated in 2006, 2009, 2010 and early 2011 for floods in the State.
About the Authors:
Foster Brown is an environmental geochemist whose research interests focus on global environmental change and sustainable development in the southwestern Amazon Basin. He coordinates the Center’s program dealing with climate change and land use in the trinational southwestern Amazonia. Dr. Brown spent over twenty years as a faculty member of the Graduate Program in Environmental Geochemistry at the Federal Fluminense University in Niteroi, Brazil, and is currently on the faculty of the Federal University of Acre, Brazil. He earned his doctorate in environmental geochemistry at Northwestern University.
George Luiz Pereira Santos is a Major of the State of Acre’s Military Firefighters Corp and has an undergraduate degree in economics and a Master’s in Regional Development. He teaches in Brazil’s National CIvil Defense System throughout Brazil as well as courses in administration at Uninorte in Rio Branco, Acre. His specialties include response to flooding and forest wildfires.
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