An evaluation of contemporary savanna fire regimes in the Canastra National Park, Brazil: Outcomes of fire suppression policies

Eugênia Kelly Luciano Batista, Jeremy Russell-Smith, Helena França, José Eugênio Côrtes Figueira

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Fire has shaped plant evolution and biogeochemical cycles for millions of years in savanna ecosystems, but changes in natural fire regimes promoted by human land use threaten contemporary conservation efforts. In protected areas in the Brazilian savannas (Cerrado), the predominant management policy is fire suppression, reflecting a cultural heritage which considers that fire always has a negative impact on biodiversity. Here we compare resultant fire-regimes in Canastra National Park (CNP), southeast Brazil, associated with areas under and without fire suppression management, based on a 16-year Landsat imagery record. In open grasslands of the Canastra plateau (CP), firefighting is undertaken under government-sanctioned regulation, whereas in the Babilonia sector, non-sanctioned fire management is undertaken by small farmers to promote cattle grazing and cropping. Fire regimes in the Canastra sector are characterized by few, very large, late dry season wildfires recurring at intervals of two years. Fire regimes in lowlands of the Babilonia sector are characterized by many small-scale, starting at the beginning of the dry season (EDS). In Babilonia uplands fire regimes are characterized by higher frequencies of large fires. The study illustrates major challenges for managing fire-prone areas in conflict-of-interest regions. We suggest that management planning in CNP needs to effectively address: i) managing conflicts between CNP managers and local communities; and ii) fire management practices in order to achieve more ecologically sustainable fire regimes. The study has broader implications for conservation management in fire-prone savannas in South America generally.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)40-49
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Environmental Management
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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