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PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH (PEER)
Cycle 8 (2019 Deadline)


Recommendations for decision makers with concerns on forest fire policies

PI: Dolors Armenteras (darmenterasp@unal.edu.co), Universidad Nacional de Colombia
U.S. Partner: Jennifer Balch, University of Colorado, Boulder
Project dates: December 2019 - December 2021

Project Overview:

8-041 Armenteras PEER speaker series
 PEER 10th Anniversary Speaker Series' recording
 8-041 Armenteras BBC interview
BBC World News service featured an interview with Dolors Armenteras in their recent episode on The Women who protect nature which aired February 21, 2021.
8-041 Armenteras fact sheet jpg
This document was produced by Population Reference Bureau under the Research Technical Assistance Center (RTAC).The information presented in this factsheet is based on research led by Dr. Dolors Armenteras, with Tania Marisol González, Maria Constanza Meza Elizalde, Laura Isabel Mesa, Joan Sebastian Barreto, Natalia Salazar, and Alejandra Reyes at the National University of Colombia
Deforestation in Colombia has been linked strongly to the use or misuse of fires for agriculture and pasture management or directly to occupy land. A six-fold increase in fires has been reported in protected areas across biodiversity hotspots in areas formerly occupied by the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) guerrillas. Understanding how the transition from conflict to post-conflict is affecting forests is crucial to mitigating both carbon emissions and biodiversity loss in Colombia. This project seeks to impact policy related to fire at the national level and help reduce fire risk in the country. The PI Dr. Armenteras and her colleagues aim to integrate research into support processes for institutions, companies, and local communities that are willing to contribute to the prevention and management of forest fires to reduce risk. This plan would be a cross-cutting element to support the management of forest fire risk at local, regional and national levels. Thanks to a PEER Evidence to Action Supplement on her grant under PEER Cycle 5, Dr. Armenteras and her group worked together with the National Natural Parks of Colombia (PNN), achieving the implementation of a proposal of criteria and indicators to strengthen planning tools for the management of protected areas (PAs), so that the degradation of forests by forest fires can be prevented. This result serves as the foundation for the execution of this new PEER Cycle 8 project focused on the development of policies aimed at reducing the risk of fires in the face of climate change. This, in turn, will allow the strengthening of the PNN entity, which favors territorial development and the conservation of biodiversity, thus benefitting the populations surrounding the PAs.

The project will begin with a critical analysis of policies related to fire management, including laws, decrees, and national plans, followed by an expert workshop to build a SWOT matrix and identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats associated with current policies. Likewise, the documents collected will be analyzed in detail to identify specific information and policy gaps in protected areas that are required for the design of prevention strategies, fire control, and management of areas affected by fire, particularly national parks. One park will be selected for the implementation of a proposed set of indicators to be used as a management tool by park officials. A workshop will be held with the community in and around the park to learn more about their perception of the use of fire, forest fires, and the impacts generated by these events. At the national scale, the project also aims to contribute to the formulation and implementation of forest fire-related policy.   

Development impacts

This project took an approach of linking politics and planning towards the promotion of a territorial management of fire based on governance. At the conclusion of the project, as of December 2021, the PEER team achieved the following development impacts:
 
(1)  Based on the results of research and work with local stakeholders and institutions the project team identified actions that can take place at a territorial scale to prevent the wildfires. Ecolmod, together with two NGOs, Fundación Omacha and Fundación Orinoquia, and the network of Natural reservoirs of Civil Society, created a participative protocol for the prevention of wildfires and the integral management of fire in the basin of the Bita River (Orinoquia). The fire component of this protocol was incorporated in the Management plan of the Bita River.
 
(2) The project team approached the communities of the Farmers Reserve Zone of Sumapaz (Sumapaz, Bogotá), which is one of the areas most affected by wildfires in Bogotá-Cundinamarca. They conducted a participatory workshop to identify fire perceptions by the local leaders. Based on this workshop, the project team drafted a proposal for the implementation of strategies directed towards a responsible use of fire and the reduction of fires in the Sustainable development plan for the Reserve Zone.
 
(3). The team approached the low carbon sustainable development project of the Orinoquia (PDSBCO). They included the current project and the project “Degradation of Tropical Forests in Colombia: impacts fire”, as projects that directly and indirectly contribute to the reduction greenhouse gases in the Department of Vichada. As a result of these meetings, they identified synergies and they expect to work together in the near future. The PDSBCO, included in the current project and its researchers in the workshops for the strengthening of local and regional stakeholders associated to fires to contribute with the experience and knowledge.
 
(4). Implementation Activities with National Natural Parks of Colombia. The team have been working on the implementation of “Criteria and indicators for the management of wildfires” with the Iguaque Sanctuary of Flora and Fauna and the integrated management district of Cinaruco. The joint work between these two protected areas started with the project “degradation of Tropical Forests in Colombia: impacts of Fire” (PEER cycle 5) and it has been further strengthened throughout the execution of the current PEER project.
 
(5).  Collaboration with private entities for the implementation project for the Department of Vichada. At the onset of the PEER 5 project the project team established a cooperation agreement with Forest First Forestry Company to follow their recommendations  based on their research of the effects of fire and wildfires prevention strategies to minimize the risk of losses of Forestry companies. With this collaboration the project team proposed a 36 month-long project “Management of fire-resilient multifunctional landscapes within the scenario of climate change for the maintenance of ecological connectivity and the regional development of the Orinoquia”  which has been approved by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.  
 
(6). At the beginning of the new legislature of the Congress of the Republic (August 6, 2021), the Bill 128 of 2021 “by means of which guidelines are established for the integral management of fire, the reduction of the risk of fires. of the vegetal cover and other dispositions are dictated” was filed. The bill will further be considered  by  the Commission V of the Senate of the Republic of Colombia.
 
(7). An agreement was established with the municipality of Puerto Carreño, Vichada for the monitoring of forest fires; thus, linked to the strategic line Climate change management for a low-carbon development and recipient to the climate of the Development Plan for the municipality of Puerto Carreño "The Task of all is Carreño 2020-2023 ”.
 
Project contributions to informing  a policy or program:

1. The project team conducted a review of all existing laws, norms and policies associated with wildfires in Colombia; from here the team identified the strengths and gaps, which allowed them to produce a summary which was used to: draft the bill proposal 221 of 2019 for the prevention of wildfires and integral management of fire and in the National assessment plan for the prevention and control of wildfires and restoration of affected areas.
 
2. The team wrote a new article on the prevention of wildfires, which was included by the Council of Bogotá in the plan for the development of economic, social, environmental and public work 2020-2024 of the city of Bogotá.
 
3. The team produced spatial information for the density of active fire data generated with data of VIIRS and for the frequency of burned area in a timeframe encompassing January 2012 – December 2019. This information was relayed to the Ministry of housing, City and Territory for their use, development  and incorporation of guidelines and strategies aimed to reduce the risks of the wildfires in fire-prone rural areas.
 
4. The team built an action framework for dissemination of knowledge of the integral management of fires as an approach to reduce wildfires and their influences on deforestation and degradation, as well as its inclusion in the National policies for the control of deforestation and sustainable management of forests. The project team presented two proposals for modification of two actions: 1. 2.18 strengthen the institutional and regional capacities for the prevention and control of wildfires in deforestation hotspots, and 2. 4.9. implement mechanisms for the continuous monitoring of other dynamics related to forestry resources.
 
5. Based on the implementation of the project “Criteria and indicators for the management of fire”  two protected areas, Iguaque Sanctuary of Flora and Fauna and Integral management district of Cinaruco, received needed information for their management plans.
 
6. The team trained more than 10 members of legislative technical units of the Congress of Colombia regarding deforestation, fragmentation, degradation and  the links of these processes with wildfires, as well as the national context of these problems.
 
7. The team trained more than 10 members of legislative technical units of the Congress of Colombia and one legislative support unit of the Council of Bogotá regarding spacio-temporal pattern of fires, basic concepts of wildfires and integral management of fire, and analyzes of politics, norms related to wildfires.
 
8. Over 50 institutional stakeholders received training on basic concepts associated with the wildfires and integral management of fires, as well as analyses of politics and norms related to the wildfires. The stakeholders trained included Sutatausa and CARDER.
 
 
Impact at planning level.
1. The construction of a participatory built protocol for the prevention of wildfires and the integrated management of fire in the basin of the Bita River (Orinoquia). The fire component of this protocol was incorporated in the Management plan of the Bita River. 
2. Development of a proposal for the implementation of strategies directed towards a responsible use of fire and the reduction of fires in the Sustainable development plan for the Reserve Zone.
3. Implementation of “Criteria and indicators for the management of wildfires” with National Parks Authorities. 

Impacts in the private sector 
 Additional funds obtained  from the national funding bodies to ensure continuation of the research and sustainability of the project. The team established a cooperation agreement with Forest First Forestry Company to carry on research on the effects of fire and wildfires prevention strategies to minimize the risk of losses of Forestry companies. in 2022 Dolors' team will be starting the project “Management of fire-resilient multifunctional landscapes within the scenario of climate change for the maintenance of ecological connectivity and the regional development of the Orinoquia” a 3 year project approved by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. 

Impact at Policy Level
At the national level, the Bill 128 of 2021 “by means of which guidelines are established for the integral management of fire, the reduction of the risk of fires. of the vegetal cover and other dispositions are dictated” was filed in August 2021. 

In terms of local level impact, an agreement was established with the municipality of Puerto Carreño, Vichada for the monitoring of forest fires; linked to the strategic line Climate change management for a low-carbon development and recipient to the climate of the Development Plan for the municipality of Puerto Carreño "The Task of all is Carreño 2020-2023 
 
 
Peer reviewed publications and proceedings:
Armenteras, D. Dávalos, L.M. Barreto, J.S. Miranda, A. Hernández-Moreno, A. Zamorano-Elgueta, C. González, T.M. Meza, M.C. Retana-Alumbreros, J. 2021. Fire-induced loss of the world’s most biodiverse forests in Latin America. Science Advances. Vol. 7, no. 33, eabd3357. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd3357
 
Armenteras, D. Guidelines for healthy global scientific collaborations. Nat Ecol Evol 5, 1193–1194 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-021-01496-y
 
González, T.M. González-Trujillo, J.D. Muñoz, A. Armenteras, D. 2021. Differential effects of fire on the occupancy of small mammals in neotropical savanna-gallery forests. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pecon.2021.03.005
 
Tebbutt, CA, Devisscher, T, Obando-Cabrera, L, et al. Participatory mapping reveals socioeconomic drivers of forest fires in protected areas of the post-conflict Colombian Amazon. People Nat. 2021; 3: 811– 826. https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10222
 
Driscoll, D., Armenteras, D., Bennet, A., Brotons, LL., Clarke, MF, Doherty, T, Haslem, A, Kelly, L, Sato. C, Sitters, H, Aquilué, N, Bell, K, Chadid, MA, Duane, A, Meza-Elizalde, MC, Giljohann, KM, González, TM, Jambhekar, R, Lazzari, J, Morán-Ordóñez, A, Wevill, T. How fire interacts with habitat loss and fragmentation. Biological Reviews doi:10.1111/brv.12687 (2021).
 
Armenteras, D., Meza, M.C., González, T.M., Oliveras, Im, Balch, J.K., Retana, J. Fire threatens the diversity and structure of tropical gallery forests. Ecosphere 12 (1), doi:0.1002/ecs2.3347 (2020).
 
Barreto, Joan S., and Dolors Armenteras. 2020. "Open Data and Machine Learning to Model the Occurrence of Fire in the Ecoregion of “Llanos Colombo–Venezolanos”" Remote Sensing 12, no. 23: 3921. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12233921
 
Armenteras, D., González, T.M., Vargas, J.O., Meza Elizalde, M.C., Oliveras, I. Incendios en ecosistemas del norte de Suramérica: avances en la ecología del fuego tropical en Colombia, Ecuador y Perú. Caldasia 42, 1–16. doi:10.15446/caldasia.v42n1.77353 (2020).
 
Salazar, N., Meza, M.C., Espelta, J.M., Armenteras, D. Post-fire responses of Quercus humboldtii mediated by some functional traits in the forests of the tropical Andes. Global Ecology and Conservation 22, e01021. doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e01021 (2020).
 
Journal references
 
 
 
 
 
 
 8-041 Armenteras artlicle
 Mongabay News features Dolors Armenteras as a pioneer and one of the most prominent experts on fires and landscape ecology in the Colombian Amazon.  
 
 






 





 
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´╗┐Lily Sweikert (USAID) and Kelly Robbins (NAS) visit Dolors' PEER project site in ´╗┐Iguaque, Colombia, March 2020 Photos credit: Dolors Armenteras










































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