Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Indigenous hunting with fire helps sustain Brazil's savannas

Date:
December 11, 2013
Source:
Indiana University
Summary:
Indigenous use of fire for hunting is an unlikely contributor to long-term carbon emissions, but it is an effective environmental management and recovery tool against agribusiness deforestation, a new study has found.

This is a Xavante elder during a collective hunt with fire in Brazil's Pimentel Barbosa Indigenous Reserve.
Credit: James R. Welch

Indigenous use of fire for hunting is an unlikely contributor to long-term carbon emissions, but it is an effective environmental management and recovery tool against agribusiness deforestation, a new study from Indiana University and Brazil's Oswaldo Cruz Foundation has found.

Many indigenous peoples in Brazil have practiced hunting with fire, and today Brazil's Xavante Indians often use fire to hunt game for ceremonial occasions such as weddings and rites of initiation. While the practice has also often been blamed for causing deforestation and increasing carbon dioxide emissions, the new study dispels this popular myth.

Based on analysis of 37 years of satellite imagery and long-term fieldwork, the researchers determined that hunting with fire by the Xavante Indians actually maintained ecological integrity and sustained vegetation recovery in areas that were previously deforested by agribusiness in the tropical savannas, or cerrado, of Brazil.

According to the study, "Indigenous Burning as Conservation Practice: Neotropical Savanna Recovery Amid Agribusiness Deforestation in Central Brazil," the deforested area under indigenous management inside the Pimentel Barbosa Indigenous Reserve decreased from 1.9 percent in 2000 to 0.6 percent in 2010. In contrast, deforestation in surrounding lands remaining under agribusiness management increased from 1.5 percent to 26 percent during the same period. The new work was published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

Traditional indigenous burning in the cerrado is not usually destructive to plant and animal life and is unlikely to contribute to increased greenhouse gas emissions over the long term, said Oswaldo Cruz Foundation co-author Carlos Coimbra Jr.

"Xavante hunting fires burn low and cool because highly flammable dead biomass is not allowed to accumulate for many years at a time. This gives animals ample escape routes and allows fire-resistant plants to regrow," he said.

The study also found that fire originated by the Xavante Indians is well-managed and contained.

"With ranches on all sides, Xavante hunters limit burning to hunting expeditions within the reserve," said lead author James R. Welch, also of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. "As a result, they work harder than ever to follow traditional protocols for where and when to use fire. By controlling fires according to the weather, winds, moisture and natural fire barriers, they successfully conserved the increasingly threatened cerrado vegetation."

In fact, since 2005, indigenous reserves have been responsible for more than 70 percent of the reduction in deforestation in Brazil, particularly in the Amazon and cerrado, according to study co-author Eduardo Brondizio.

"The Xavante situation at Pimentel Barbosa Reserve is emblematic of a puzzling phenomenon that is increasingly replicated throughout Brazil and the world: the formation of islands of environmental conservation surrounded by large-scale agribusiness," he said.

Brondizio is a professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Anthropology and a faculty associate of the Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change and the Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, both research centers supported by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at IU Bloomington.

The real challenge to conservation in the cerrado, he said, is not indigenous burning practices but how to achieve long-term sustainability of indigenous lands that are increasingly subsumed by agribusiness expansion. According to Brondizio, Xavante practices offer invaluable lessons regarding ecosystems and conservation.

"The Xavante show us how to maintain and use cultural practices to manage and recover the environment and call attention to the need to consider new governance systems that respect the rights of indigenous populations and promote conservation beyond reserves and protected areas," Brondizio says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Indiana University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. James R. Welch, Eduardo S. Brondνzio, Scott S. Hetrick, Carlos E. A. Coimbra. Indigenous Burning as Conservation Practice: Neotropical Savanna Recovery amid Agribusiness Deforestation in Central Brazil. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (12): e81226 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081226

Cite This Page:

Indiana University. "Indigenous hunting with fire helps sustain Brazil's savannas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211183758.htm>.
Indiana University. (2013, December 11). Indigenous hunting with fire helps sustain Brazil's savannas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211183758.htm
Indiana University. "Indigenous hunting with fire helps sustain Brazil's savannas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211183758.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) — An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins