Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 151-161

Fire and restoration of the largest urban forest of the world in Rio de Janeiro City, Brazil

  • D.M. Silva MatosAffiliated withDepto de Ciências Naturais, ECB, Universidade do Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO)
  • , C. Junius F. SantosAffiliated withIBAMA
  • , D. de R. ChevalierAffiliated withEdiffcio Sede, SAIN, IBAMA

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National Park of Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) is about 3,300 ha and considered the largest urban forest in the world. Its floristic composition is typical of Atlantic Rain Forest. The reserve is being altered because of fire occurrences and urban expansion. This study identified locations and causes of forest fires, and makes management recommendations to restore damaged areas. From 1991 to 2000, forest firefighters recorded an average of 75-fire occurrences/year. Identified causes included hot air balloons (24%), intentional (24%), rubbish burning (21%) and religious practices (17%). Primary fuels included invasive grasses and ferns. Although hot air balloons destroyed larger areas of forest in each occurrence, a greater number of fires started in the invasive vegetation along roads that bisect the forest. In response to recurrent forests, invasive vegetation has spread gradually into the forest increasing forest degradation. To decrease fire damage, sites with high fire frequencies and density of invasive vegetation were planted with less flammable species. Results indicate that fire frequency decreased and density of invasive vegetation declined. This approach appears to prevent fire incidence, reduce the need for fire fighting, and preserve existing biodiversity.

wildfires Atlantic Forest Tropical Forest conservation Rio de Janeiro