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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 (sabina_ribeiro@yahoo.com.br), 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

During the reporting period (January 1st – March 31st), our actions included: i) Planning of project actions for 2018; ii) Preparation of exsiccate of the sampled trees in the permanent plots; iii) Upload new tree census data of the permanent plots to ForestPlots.net; iv) Participation in the campaign Cuidando da água do planeta a partir da região MAP (Taking care of the water of the planet in the MAP region); and v) Meetings to discuss the establishment of new permanent forest plots in the state of Acre.

During the first quarter of 2018, PI Dr. Sabina Ribeiro met regularly with team members and other researchers, including her U.S. partner Dr. Stephen Perz, to plan field work, discuss synergies with related projects, and work on manuscripts. In February, team member Richarlly Silva prepared some exsiccate of the sampled trees in the permanent project plots with the support of staff from the Plant Ecology and Botany Laboratory of UFAC. He also uploaded new tree census data of the six permanent plots remeasured under the PEER project to ForestPlots.net (https://www.forestplots.net/). On March 22, he and Dr. Ribeiro participated in the campaign Cuidando da água do planeta a partir da região MAP (Taking care of the water of the planet in the MAP region). This campaign (presented in a video on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/proexufac/videos/1525768487533666/), which was simultaneously launched in Acre (Brazil), Madre de Dios (Peru), and Pando (Bolivia), is part of the project “Developing Resilience and Solutions with Respect to Extreme Climate Events in Southwestern Amazonia: an example from the Trinational Acre River Basin.” The coordinator of that project is Dr. Foster Brown and it is funded by the MacArthur Foundation. PEER project members and colleagues from the Study Group in Ecology and Forest Management (coordinated by Dr. Ribeiro) participated in the campaign by distributing tree seedlings and presenting posters highlighting the importance of maintaining forest health to guarantee water production and quality. A video narrated by the PI and Mr. Silva and showing the making of the posters is available at https://www.facebook.com/1729545233778571/videos/1751282658271495/.
 
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).

Thanks to a PEER Evidence to Action supplement competitively awarded in late December 2017, Dr. Ribeiro and her group will 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). During this past quarter, the PI and Mr. Silva met with a representative of the Secretary of State for Education and Sport (SSES) of the state of Acre who works on the Asas de Florentina program. In March, they hired environmental education consultant Edilaine Lemes Marques to assist with elaboration of the learning kits, including a manual for use by teachers who will present the new curricular activities, along with the necessary materials the students will use in the new lessons. The PEER team will also plan training activities and develop a consistent set of metrics jointly with SSES to assess student performance before and after project implementation. By the end of August 2018 they plan to distribute the learning kits to the 10 municipalities to be included in the Forest Health project and conduct training activities for the teaching staff and coordinators. Once the dry season begins around July, they will also implement a new RAINFOR plot and continue collecting and analyzing data from their existing plots.

The project also has a Research Gate page, which can be accessed through the following link: https://www.researchgate.net/project/Capacity-Building-for-Participatory-Monitoring-of-Changing-Forests-in-Sustainable-Use-Areas-of-the-Southwestern-Brazilian-Amazon. In addition, activities performed by the project team are also presented on the SOS Amazonia website at http://sosamazonia.org.br/conteudo/2016/10/19/capacitar-para-manter-a-floresta-em-pe/
 

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