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Project September 24, 2020

All the Flames of the Forest: The Complex Reality of Amazonian Fires Explained



This project aims to address fires in the Brazilian Amazon, clarifying the difference between agricultural deforestation and forest fires, and evaluating fire use by local people and its local and global impacts. The finished product will be a multimedia journalistic article with data visualization resources to communicate the core aspect of our investigation—the use of fire as a central component of farming practices in smallholder traditional communities, located within two forest reserves at the low Tapajós river region. Traditional farmers have used fire for centuries in their fallow farming systems of shifting agriculture. However, in the last two decades, these intentional agricultural fires have started to "escape" into the surrounding rainforests. Such fires are unprecedented and are linked to a marked increase in forest flammability. Our project will develop information that will help the public differentiate between small farmers fighting for their survival (typically without technical support from the government) and the criminal groups involved in a never-ending cycle of illegal logging, forest clearance, and land-grabs. This team will follow the work of a group of researchers from different institutions who are trying to co-develop fire management alternatives with local communities to reduce the risk of forest fires.