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Cycle 8 (2019 Deadline)

Recommendations for decision makers with concerns on forest fire policies

PI: Dolors Armenteras (, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
U.S. Partner: Jennifer Balch, University of Colorado, Boulder
Project dates: December 2019 - November 2020

Project Overview:

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.   

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