Watershed Modeling of Smallholder Timber Management as a Land Use Alternative in the Amazon Estuary

EPA Grant Number: F07C20049
Title: Watershed Modeling of Smallholder Timber Management as a Land Use Alternative in the Amazon Estuary
Investigators: Fortini, Lucas
Institution: University of Florida
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: January 1, 2007 through January 1, 2010
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Ecology , Water and Watersheds


After centuries of logging, the persistence of Amazon tidal floodplain forests indicates a potential for sustainable timber management. However, while thousands of families in Amazon floodplain communities participate in poorly-understood timber production systems with a seemingly high potential for sustainability, there are relatively few studies that evaluate the sustainability of these small scale operations. The proposed research evaluates the sustainability of timber management in the Amazon Estuary through the development and testing of a watershed model for the Mazagão River. The proposed model will be used to address the following questions: (1) How much timber can be produced on a sustainable basis from naturally regenerated floodplain forests, given the ecology of each timber species, the size and availability of management areas, and the economics of timber production? (2) How will potential changes in forest management, markets for timber and non-timber forest products, and changes in enforcement of environmental regulations alter future scenarios of timber availability and use in the watershed?


In order to address these questions, the proposed model will be created based upon three related research components: (1) landscape characterization of the Mazagão River Watershed, for which high resolution satellite data and object-based classification methods will be employed to quantify the extent and spatial distribution of areas appropriate for forest management; (2) population modeling of commercial timber species, for which matrix models constructed from permanent inventory data will be employed to determine sustained yield estimates; (3) economic modeling of watershed timber production, for which collaborative monitoring methods of timber-related activities, along with field observations to develop a production model, will be used to evaluate costs, benefits, and economic limitations of timber management in the watershed.

Expected Results:

A major challenge in Amazonia today is finding sustainable land uses that conserve forest cover and alleviate rural poverty. The issue of sustainable forest management viability, including community and smallholder forest management, has received substantial academic attention, due to its clear relevance to both of these goals. Each of the three components described above addresses a substantive gap in existing knowledge that hinders meaningful analyses of the sustainability of land use practices in the Amazon estuary. As a whole, the model results will be useful for the evaluation of current and future scenarios of timber use while providing insights into the main factors limiting sustainable timber use in the Amazon estuary.

Supplemental Keywords:

Amazon Estuary, floodplain forests, forest management, watershed modeling,, Scientific Discipline

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • Final