Sep 15, 2016

Increased Wildfire Risk Driven by Climate and Development Interactions in the Bolivian Chiquitania, Southern Amazonia

Devisscher T, Anderson LO, Aragão LE, Galván L, Malhi Y
PLoS One
  • States that wildfires are becoming increasingly dominant in tropical landscapes due to reinforcing feedbacks between land cover change and more severe dry conditions
  • Focuses on the Bolivian Chiquitania, a region located at the southern edge of Amazonia
  • Uses a novel approach to assess fire risk at the regional level driven by different development trajectories interacting with changing climatic conditions
  • Simulates possible future risk scenarios using maximum entropy modelling with presence-only data, combining land cover, anthropogenic and climatic variables
  • Finds that important determinants of fire risk in the region are distance to roads, recent deforestation and density of human settlements
  • Finds that severely dry conditions alone increased the area of high fire risk by 69%, affecting all categories of land use and land cover
  • Finds that interactions between extreme dry conditions and rapid frontier expansion further increased fire risk, resulting in potential biomass loss of 2.44±0.8 Tg in high risk area, about 1.8 times higher than the estimates for the 2010 drought