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Wildfires are currently a major driver of change of Amazonian carbon stocks and biodiversity, as well as an important threat to the wellbeing of its ~25 million inhabitants. In the Amazon, the extent of degraded forests has already surpassed the total deforested area. If forest degradation is not curbed, we predict reaching a tipping point characterized by a pronounced reduction of ecosystemic resilience and an irreversible loss of ecological service provision, damaging the local economy, and society. Here we present a synthesis from multidisciplinary research illuminating pathways to avoid such plausible scenario, focusing on: i) advancing the knowledge on the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of fires, ii) the development of new technologies to improve the wildfires risk management and operational routines to guide decision making, iii) a diagnostic of fire governance in a transnational context and iv) knowledge dissemination strategy, focused on school communities and social media. Our on-the-ground results demonstrated that even after 30 years since fires, burned forests store 25% less carbon than intact forests. Furthermore, remote sensing (RS) analysis demonstrated that forest fire incidence and intensity co-vary with levels of forest fragmentation at the landscape level. An integrated analysis combining RS and census data revealed: a) the economic loss by fires can amount to at most 7% of regional GDP, and during extreme droughts, these values can be 15 fold larger, b) a total of 5% of respiratory hospitalizations were estimated to be attributable to fire-induced pollution. Given the scarcity of financial resources in Amazonian countries for fire monitoring, it is essential to focus efforts on critical months of the fire calendar: the spatio-temporal distribution of fire is related to the end of the dry season in the Amazon, varying between August and April. New technologies, such as online platforms to integrate multiple data sources, are helpful for both decision-makers and the general public. However, capacity building may be challenging, primarily if pursued virtually. An online survey on stakeholders' and broader society's perception of the fire problem revealed that the principal vulnerabilities are institutional, environmental, and sociocultural. Finally, to transform reality, it is necessary to act locally. We performed dissemination, training, and capacity building, presenting our research results. The scientific communication of our results was translated to social media platforms, using dissemination strategies and standardization for each communication vehicle. We conclude that multisectoral actions are required to effectively reduce fires and their impacts in the Amazon.

Keywords:

wildfires, Amazon, carbon stocks, health, governance, engagement, society, impacts

Liana Anderson, Camila Silva, Celso Henrique Leite Silva Junior, Sonaira Silva, N. Galia Selaya, Wesley Campanharo, Thiago Morello, João dos Reis, Ana Carolina Pessôa, Gleiciane Pismel, Yara de Paula, Nathália Carvalho, Monique Maia, Luiz Aragão

Presentation within symposium:

S-30 Addressing the drivers of resilience: Understanding functional biodiversity and underlying processes that determine ecosystem health

How to cope with Increasing Risk of Wildfires in Amazonia?

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