Erika Berenguer

Senior Research Associate, Oxford University

Big Bet: Fireproof the Amazon in 25 years to avoid the forest collapse.

Project: Fireproof the Amazon by halting forest fires in the next 25 years. To date 125,000 km2 of Amazonian rainforests have burned, but this should not have been the case – the Amazon did not co-evolve with fires, so it does not have the mechanisms to resist to this new threat. Repeated fires in the rainforest can lead to its collapse. To fireproof the Amazon, and avoid the dieback of the world’s largest rainforest, the project will test innovative solutions for the removal of ignition sources, fire risk management, and rapid incident response. The project will develop guidelines to be implemented at scale that leverage technological innovations, scientific advancements, socioeconomic interventions, and a communications overhaul to ultimately streamline both fire prevention and management in the region..

Dr Erika Berenguer is a scientist based at the University of Oxford and Lancaster University, both in the UK, and one of the coordinators of the Sustainable Amazon Network. Over the past 15 years, Dr Berenguer has dedicated her career to investigating the impacts of human-driven disturbances in the Amazon region. With a keen focus on forest fires, she has witnessed first-hand their profound effects on Amazonian carbon stocks, biodiversity, and local communities. During her career, Dr Berenguer has produced numerous high-impact scientific papers, participated in various policy briefs aimed at Brazilian policy makers, collaborated with reserve managers to develop fire management plans, written educational booklets for local populations, produced several online films about forest fires in the Amazon and extensively engaged with the media.

Now, Dr Berenguer wants to unite her scientific knowledge and vast on-the-ground experience to fire proof the Amazon. She aims to integrate technological innovations, scientific advancements, socioeconomic interventions and a communications overhaul to guide the world’s largest and most biodiverse rainforest to a future free from the threat of fires.