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Cablegate: Brazil - Focus On Forest Fire Prevention

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RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #0712/01 1481035
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271035Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1751
INFO RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 2123
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 6190
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 8074
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5540
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0354
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 6232
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 3807
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 2476
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4584
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6820
RUEHGE/AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN 1477
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 7376
RUEHPO/AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO 1529
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 4103
RUEHC/DOI WASHDC
RUEAEPA/HQ EPA WASHDC
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RUEHRC/USDA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 000712

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV KGHG EAGR EAID SOCI BR
SUBJECT: Brazil - Focus on Forest Fire Prevention

1. SUMMARY: The Brazilian environmental protection agency (IBAMA)
and its forest fire prevention unit (PREVFOGO) are seeking ways to
better control forest fires. These efforts included the
organization of two seminars in March 2008 focused on promotion of
inter-agency coordination and advanced planning for fire prevention
efforts in the Federal District and the Amazon region. END
SUMMARY.

2. IBAMA's National Center of Prevention and Combat of Forest Fire
(PREVFOGO) plays a leading role in combating forest fires. They are
seeking to improve their capabilities. As part of that effort,
PREVFOGO and the Federal District's Environment and Urban
Development State Secretariat (SEDUMA) hosted the 10th Federal
District Forest Fire Forum and 1st Seminar on Amazon without Fire on
March 1-4, 2008, bringing together over 70 participants from
scientific institutions, universities, and governmental
organizations. The Italian Cooperation General Direction also
provided financial support to the Amazon without Fire program.

3. Brazil is currently ranked one of the top five greenhouse gas
producers worldwide, with an estimated 75 percent of emissions cause
by fires related to deforestation. Agricultural burning practices
are also common in Brazil, ranging in scale from the itinerant
cultivation traditions of small indigenous groups, to the large and
highly intensified production systems of sugar cane and cotton. On
a broad scale, fire promotes environmental damage through factors
including greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity reduction, damage
to soils, and human health risks. Deforested and degraded areas are
more susceptible to subsequent forest fires than healthy forests.

4. In the case of the Federal District, burning for agricultural
preparation has contributed to devastation of the region's Cerrado
ecosystems and local fauna and flora (loss of biodiversity),
reduction in water infiltration, accidental death and property loss.
With 42 percent rural land, the Federal District is heavily
impacted by fire each dry season (May - October). Moreover, Federal
District fire management specialists are challenged to overcome
recurring peat fires. Tropical peat lands consist of humid layers
of forest debris that serve as gigantic stores of carbon. When dry,
these reserves pose major fire hazards, as peat fire can burn almost
indefinitely, even underground, until fuel is exhausted. Peat fires
are emerging as a global threat with significant economic, social
and ecological impacts.

5. The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) employs
real-time fire monitoring via satellite that shows a large
proportion of fires occurring in deforested, degraded areas. Fires
are set for a variety of reasons including: "slash and burn"
agricultural pre-planting practices, sugar cane manual harvest time,
land tenure controversies, and vandalism/arson. Over 300,000 heat
points (fires) covering millions of Km2 are detected by INPE
annually through satellite images, 85% of which occur in the Amazon
states (Legal Amazon). Among recent years, 2004 recorded the
highest number of fires, with progressive decreases observed in 2005
and 2006.

6. The Brazilian Agricultural Enterprise (EMBRAPA) has developed a
campaign to reduce the use of fire for agricultural preparations.
The goal of the campaign is sensitize communities to the damage
caused by indiscriminate and off-season field burning, suggesting
alternatives practices that can substitute for fire in agricultural
production systems. Primary objectives of the campaign are to
reduce deforestation, reduce the use of fire in cattle production,
and educate producers of technologies for fire control.

7. The Italian Fire Cooperation program "Amazon without Fire" has
expanded Italian fire prevention cooperation in 34 municipalities of
the States of Acre, Mato Grosso and Para in the last seven years.
The Italian program attributes success to stakeholder involvement
and community management plan development. According to Italian
representative Roberto Bianchi, the numerous positive program
results included:

- 75 percent fire reduction in municipalities;

BRASILIA 00000712 002 OF 002


- Training of 50.000 families in the rural and urban families;
- Training of doctors, nurses, and health agents in respiratory
diseases treatment;
- Agroforestry practices focused on perennial cultivation,
ecological pastureland management, and creation of private
reserves;
- Social outreach stimulating literacy and fire-sensitive
environmental education;
- Civil society participation via "Environmental Defense Local
Committees"
- Radio-based public service announcements promoting fire
management, respiratory diseases prevention and information and dry
season fire calendar information.

8. In conclusion, enhanced inter-agency coordination and advanced
planning amongst Brazilian institutions represent two elements of a
national strategy to reduce the incidence of fire related to
deforestation and agricultural production. These fire prevention
efforts also will contribute to broader plans to reduce Brazilian
greenhouse gas emissions.

CHICOLA

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