Regional livestock grazing, human demography and fire incidence in the Portuguese landscape

Filipa Torres-Manso, Paulo Fernandes, Rui Pinto, Hermínio Botelho, Aurora Monzon


Aim of study:Wildfire incidence in Portugal is high in comparison with other Mediterranean Europe countries. Wildfire problems have been worsened by complex interactions between land use, livestock grazing and human population during the 20th century. In this study we try to understand these interactions and relationships.
Area of study: Portugal country.
Material and Methods: For the mainland Portuguese territory we present a statistical temporal analysis (1930-2001) based on the densities of livestock grazing and human inhabitants at the smallest administrative unit level, the parish. We compare these data with fire incidence descriptors (average area burned and average fire density) between 1990 and 2007.
Research highlights: We have identified clusters of parishes sharing common trends in the evolution of livestock and human inhabitant densities. A cause-effect relationship was not detected between livestock grazing density and fire incidence. However, the results point out clusters of parishes where conflicts between forest, fire and livestock grazing are important in the North, Centre and South regions of Portugal.

Key Words: Livestock grazing; inhabitants; forest; fire; vegetation.

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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2014231-02758