Translating Fire Impacts in Southwestern Amazonia into Economic Costs

Published in Remote Sensing 11(7):764

Campanharo, W. Lopes, A. Anderson, L.O. Morello, T. Aragão, L.

Publication year 2019
DOI 10.3390/rs11070764
IAI Program


IAI Project SGPHW-016


Between 1998 and 2017, climate-related disasters represented 91% of all occurrences worldwide, causing approximately US$ 2.245 billion of direct economic losses. In the Amazon region, fire is used as a widely spread technique for land clearing, agricultural management, hunting, and religious rituals. However, over the past 20 years, severe droughts caused a major amplification of fire occurrences, leading to several socioeconomic and environmental impacts. Particularly in Acre state, located in the southwestern Brazilian Amazon, the occurrence of extensive fires, associated with extreme climatic events, has been reported since 2005. However, fire dynamics, land tenure relationships, and associated impacts are poorly quantified. In this study, we aim to investigate the following: (1) The spatiotemporal variability of fire dynamics during anomalously dry and regular climate conditions (2) the attribution of fire occurrence and land tenure relationship, and (3) the environmental, social, and economic impacts caused by fires and its consequences for Acre&rsquos economy. We analyzed information on the spatial patterns of fire, its direct impacts on land use and land cover, carbon stocks, CO2 emissions, the indirect impact on human illness, and finally the costs of these impacts from 2008 to 2012. During the studied period, burned areas were concentrated around the major cities and roads, forming polygons up to 0.6 km2. However, in 2010, an extremely dry year, fires spread to remote areas, impacting protected private areas and sustainable-use conservation areas. In 2010, the total area affected by forest fires was approximately 16 times greater than in meteorologically normal years. The total economic loss estimated in 2010 was around US$ 243.36 ± 85.05 million and for the entire period, US$ 307.46 ± 85.41 million. These values represent 7.03 ± 2.45% and 9.07 ± 2.46% of Acre&rsquos gross domestic product (GDP), respectively.