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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER)
Cycle 4 (2015 Deadline)

Capacity building for participatory monitoring of changing forests in sustainable use areas of the southwestern Brazilian Amazon

PI: Sabina Ribeiro (, Universidade Federal do Acre
U.S. Partner: Stephen Perz, University of Florida
Project Dates:  October 2015 - January 2019

Project Overview

Biodiversity in the Brazilian Amazon is the focus of numerous research initiatives, but significant knowledge gaps remain. The proposed project responds to several scientific priorities with regard to our understanding of forests in the Amazon. Forests in the southwestern Brazilian state of Acre are exceptionally biodiverse, but we still have limited information about many species. Further, climate change and extreme climatic events pose threats to forests, which require monitoring efforts that include fieldwork. The research team on this project will revisit established botanical plots to evaluate forest dynamics in terms of carbon stocks and biodiversity. This effort builds on previous work with National Science Foundation funding and under the RAINFOR program, both of which use established protocols. The team will also establish new botanical plots to fill coverage gaps in forest types underrepresented in existing plots. In both types of plots, they will add data collection protocols designed to detect changes in vegetation due to climate change, including tree mortality, seedling recruitment, and canopy gaps. These data collection protocols will permit more robust analyses in response to a suite of pressing scientific questions about forests in the Amazon. The revisits will allow analysis of forest dynamics, particularly by comparing carbon stocks and species composition over time. The new plots will expand forest coverage and plot sample size, providing a more representative picture of forests in Acre. Finally, the additional protocols will evaluate changes in forest structure and species composition in the context of debates over the implications of climate change for Amazonia.

The project team will share data with other researchers who also hold botanical data for Acre in order to expand their data sets. This will permit increased statistical power in hypothesis testing and open opportunities for additional collaborative publications. They will also deposit botanical specimens in regional herbaria, thereby increasing their importance as botanical collections and supporting taxonomic work in a region with many understudied species. Finally, their data dissemination plan seeks to take advantage of relationships among local communities by passing findings from their botanical plots to multiple communities and thereby expanding the reach of knowledge exchange. The planned capacity building efforts on the project highlight participatory methods to train community members in forest monitoring. This makes trainees capacity multipliers, since they can in turn implement the same participatory approaches to train other community members, thus increasing the project’s impact.

Summary of Recent Activities

In October 2017, PI Dr. Sabina Ribeiro met via Skype with U.S. partner Dr. Stephen Perz and Dr. Galia Selaya to discuss preparation of a paper focusing on the lessons learned from the capacity building program carried out with PEER support. In November the PI and her team member Mr. Richarlly Silva met with Dr. Willian Flores from the Federal University of Acre to discuss the establishment of new permanent plots inside the Purus Project area, a private REDD+ project in the state of Acre, and in December another Skype meeting was held with Dr. Selaya to discuss the new plots and other project activities. On the outreach side, the highlight of the last quarter came on November 23-24, when Dr. Ribeiro and her team convened their second knowledge dissemination workshop on the project, in addition to the eight technical skills workshops they have presented. The workshop was held in the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve (CMER), in the municipality of Assis Brasil. Four community members from that municipality prepared and conducted the workshop, which was scheduled to take place during the XXIII Assembly of the Association of Residents and Producers of the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve of Assis Brasil (AMOPREAB). This workshop, which drew 70 participants from various villages, was notable for the fact that some of the community members trained by Dr. Ribeiro and her colleagues in earlier activities took the lead in disseminating the knowledge they had acquired to other community members.
4-461 CMER Workshop4-461 CMER Workshop 1
Attendees of the second CMER dissemination workshop held December 22-23, 2017 at Assis, Brazil (photo courtesy of Dr. Ribeiro).

Because the rainy season has now begun in Brazil, making it difficult to impossible for the team to access their field sites, the researchers will focus in the early months of 2018 on compiling and analyzing previously collected data, preparing papers on their results, and beginning work on a new educational outreach activity being funded by a PEER Evidence to Action supplement competitively awarded in late December 2017. The new funds will allow the team to broaden the project’s capacity building activities by including students from rural areas and by expanding the geographic scope of its educational activities beyond the CMER. The PI and her colleagues will work with local educational authorities to incorporate Forest Health as a complementary curriculum module in the Asas da Florestania program of the Government of the State of Acre. This project will allow children and teenagers to better understand environmental issues in terms of forest health and to learn skills required for forest monitoring and sustainable forest management (SFM). This effort should foster the development of positive attitudes towards forests while inculcating skills necessary for SFM, now and in the future. The first step in the effort, to be completed by April 2018, will be elaboration of learning kits to be used by the students.

The project now has a Research Gate page, which can be accessed through the following link: In addition, activities performed by the project team are also presented on the SOS Amazonia website at

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