Integrated Fire Management: Serra Geral do Tocantins Ecological Station’s Journey (2001 to 2020)
Palavras-chave:Adaptive management, Effective management, Knowledge dialogue
Fire drives evolutionary and ecological process in tropical savannas. Nevertheless, fire as a tool for managing biodiversity in wildlands is still controversial and encounters strong resistances. For decades, fire in savanna’s protected areas was perceived as ‘an evil’ requiring strong efforts for its suppression. Anti-fire policy had led to large and recurrent wildfire due to fuel load accumulation and vegetation continuity, also impacting traditional livelihood in savannas. Circumstantially, fire use and management has been accepted as a ‘necessary evil’ in order to avoid wildfires. An emerging fire management policy has been recognizing fire as ‘a necessity’ for savannas’ biodiversity and people, dealing with intercultural governances. Such a participatory fire management approach is in the context of Integrated Fire Management (IFM). In Brazil, a paradigm shift in fire policies is underway, and the telling of such institutional change must consider the experience of Serra Geral do Tocantins Ecological Station. This is a strict protected area (PA) of 7000kmÇ, created in 2001 by a federal act. After a decade of anti-fire management policy, the PA was annually dealing with large and destructive wildfire, with strong impact also on traditional burning systems. The negotiation of a fire management agreement with local traditional people, who recognize themselves as quilombolas, involved discussions, meetings and training, led to a progressive paradigm change – first accepting the controlled use of fire and currently integrating multiple perspectives on burning, aiming to create a patch mosaic burning for biodiversity conservation. Besides reduction of large wildfires occurrences, there is a healthy environment of collective learning and reduced conflict. Such management changes are fully incorporated into management instruments, representing positive impacts at the institutional level through debates and conceptual developments, and the learning are being shared with other PAs and at national and international levels.
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