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      Increased damage from fires in logged forests during droughts caused by El Niño.

      Nature

      Weather, Trees, Fires, Borneo

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          Abstract

          In 1997-98, fires associated with an exceptional drought caused by the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) devastated large areas of tropical rain forests worldwide. Evidence suggests that in tropical rainforest environments selective logging may lead to an increased susceptibility of forests to fire. We investigated whether this was true in the Indonesian fires, the largest fire disaster ever observed. We performed a multiscale analysis using coarse- and high-resolution optical and radar satellite imagery assisted by ground and aerial surveys to assess the extent of the fire-damaged area and the effect on vegetation in East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. A total of 5.2 +/- 0.3 million hectares including 2.6 million hectares of forest was burned with varying degrees of damage. Forest fires primarily affected recently logged forests; primary forests or those logged long ago were less affected. These results support the hypothesis of positive feedback between logging and fire occurrence. The fires severely damaged the remaining forests and significantly increased the risk of recurrent fire disasters by leaving huge amounts of dead flammable wood.

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          Most cited references 12

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          Positive feedbacks in the fire dynamic of closed canopy tropical forests

          The incidence and importance of fire in the Amazon have increased substantially during the past decade, but the effects of this disturbance force are still poorly understood. The forest fire dynamics in two regions of the eastern Amazon were studied. Accidental fires have affected nearly 50 percent of the remaining forests and have caused more deforestation than has intentional clearing in recent years. Forest fires create positive feedbacks in future fire susceptibility, fuel loading, and fire intensity. Unless current land use and fire use practices are changed, fire has the potential to transform large areas of tropical forest into scrub or savanna.
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            Large-scale impoverishment of Amazonian forests by logging and fire

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              FIRE IN AMAZONIAN SELECTIVELY LOGGED RAIN FOREST AND THE POTENTIAL FOR FIRE REDUCTION

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                11719802
                10.1038/35106547

                Chemistry

                Weather, Trees, Fires, Borneo

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