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

  • Filipa Torres-Manso Unversidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro
  • Paulo Fernandes Centro de Investigação de Tecnologias Agro-Ambientais e Biológicas - CITAB
  • Rui Pinto Departamento de Ciências Florestais e Arquitectura Paisagista – CIFAP/UTAD.
  • Hermínio Botelho Departamento de Ciências Florestais e Arquitectura Paisagista – CIFAP/UTAD.
  • Aurora Monzon Departamento de Ciências Florestais e Arquitectura Paisagista – CIFAP/UTAD.


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.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Filipa Torres-Manso, Unversidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro
Department of Forest & Landscape


Almeida AMSF, Moura PVSV, 1992. The relationship of forest fires to agro-forestry and socio-economic parameters in Portugal. International Journal of Wildland Fire 2: 37-40.

Azevedo JC, Moreira C, Castro JP, Loureiro C, 2010. Agriculture abandonment, land-use change and fire hazard in mountain landscapes in northeastern Portugal. In: Landscape ecology in forest management and conservation Challenges and solutions for global change (Li C, Lafortezza R, Chen J, eds). Springer. pp: 329-351.

Azevedo JMT, 1985. Contributo para o estudo dos sistemas de exploração ovina. Master dissertation. University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal.

Bartolomé J, Franch J, Plaixats J, Seligman NG, 2000. Grazing alone is not enough to maintain landscape diversity in the Montseny Biosphere Reserve. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 77: 267-273.

Bengtsson J, Nilsson SG, Franc A, Menozzi P, 2000. Biodiversity, disturbances, ecosystem function and management of European forests. Forest Ecology and Management 132: 39-50.

Bland F, Auclair D, 1996. Silvopastoral aspects of Mediterranean forest management. In: Western European silvopastoral systems (Étienne M, eds. INRA. pp: 125-141.

Catry F, Rego FC, Bugalho MN, Lopes T, Silva JS, Moreira F, 2006. Effects of fire on tree survival and regeneration in a Mediterranean ecosystem. Forest Ecology and Management 234: S197.

Catry F, Rego FC, 2008. Caracterização e análise dos padres temporais e espaciais dos fogos relacionados com o pastoreio. In: A relação entre o pastoreio e os incendios florestais (Botelho HS, Bento J, Torres-Manso F, eds). EU Forest Focus Programme, UTAD, Vila Real. pp: 36-55.

Catry F, Rego FC, Silva J, Moreira F, Camia A, Ricotta C, Conedera M, 2010. Fire starts and human activities. In: Towards integrated fire management – Outcomes of the European Project Fire Paradox (Silva JS, Rego FC, Fernandes P, Rigolot E, eds). European Forest Institute. pp: 9-22.

Fernandes PM, 2010. Creating fire smart forests and landscapes. Forêt Mediterrannéenne 31: 417-422.

Ganteaume A, Camia A, Jappiot M, San-Miguel-Ayanz J, Long-Fournel M, Lampin C. A review of the main driving factors of forest fire ignition over Europe. Environmental Management. [In press].

Jongman RHG, Ter Braak CJF, Van Tongeren FR, 1995. Data analysis community and landscape ecology. Cambridge University Press.

Lasanta-Martínez T, Vicente-Serrano S, Cuadrat-Prats J, 2005. Mountain Mediterranean landscape evolution caused by the abandonment of traditional primary activities: a study of the Spanish Central Pyrenees. Applied Geography 25: 47-65.

Loepfe L, Martínez-Vilalta J, Oliveres J, Pi-ol J, Lloret F, 2010. Feedbacks between fuel reduction and land homogenization determine fire regimes in three Mediterranean areas. Forest Ecology and Management 259: 2366-2374.

Mancilla-Leytón J, Mejías R, Vicente A, 2013. Do goats preserve the forest? Evaluating the effects of grazing goats on combustible Mediterranean scrub. Applied Vegetation Science 16: 63-73.

Martínez J, Vega-García C, Chuvieco E, 2009. Human-caused wildfire risk rating for prevention planning in Spain. Journal of Environmental Management 90: 1241-1252.

Martínez-Fernández J, Chuvieco E, Koutsias N, 2013. Modelling long-term fire occurrence factors in Spain by accounting for local variations with geographically weighted regression. Natural Hazards and Earth Systems Science 13: 311-327.

Mather AS, Pereira JMC, 2006. Transição florestal e fogo em Portugal. In: Incêndios florestais em Portugal: caracterização, impactes e prevenção (Pereira JS, Pereira JM, Rego FC, Silva JM, Silva TP, eds). ISA/Press, Lisboa. pp: 257-282.

Moore P, Smith R, 2006. Gestão do fogo à escala da paisagem. In: Incêndios florestais em Portugal: caracterização, impactes e prevenção (Pereira JS, Pereira JM, Rego FC, Silva JM, Silva TP, eds). ISA/Press, Lisboa, Portugal. pp: 370-384.

Moreira F, Rego FC, Ferreira PG, 2001. Temporal (1958-1995) pattern of change in a cultural landscape of northwestern Portugal: implications for fire occurrence. Landscape Ecology 16: 557-567.

Moreira F, Vaz P, Catry F, Silva J, 2009. Regional variations in wildfire susceptibility of land-cover types in Portugal: implications for landscape management to minimize fire hazard. International Journal of Wildland Fire 18: 563-574.

Moreira F, Viedma O, Arianoutsou M, Curt T, Koutsias N, Rigolot E, Barbati A, Corona P, Vaz P, Xanthopoulos G, Mouillot F, Bilgili E, 2011. Landscape-wildfire interactions in southern Europe: implications for landscape management. Journal of Environmental Management 92: 2389-2402.

Moreno JM, Vázquez A, Vélez R, 1998. Recent history of forest fires in Spain. In: Large forest fires (Moreno JM, ed). Backbuys Publishers. pp: 159-185.

Nunes MC, Vasconcelos MJ, Pereira JM, Dasgupta N, Allredge RJ, Rego FC, 2005. Land cover types and fire in Portugal: do fires burn land cover selectively? Landscape Ecology 20: 661-673.

Pinho J, 2008. Organização do território e defesa da floresta contra incêndios. In: A silvopastorícia na prevenção dos fogos rurais (Belo-Moreira M, Seita-Coelho I, eds). ISA/Press, Lisboa. pp: 31-47.

Poux X, Beaufoy G, Bignai E, Ramain B, 2009. Les systems ovins et caprins de l'Union européenne: Implications pour l'environment. In: Changes in sheep and goat farming systems at the beginning of the 21st century: research tools, methods and initiatives in favour of a sustainable development (Pacheco F, Morand-Fehr P, eds). Options Méditérranéennes, CIHEAM, A nº 91. pp: 113-123.

Rosário MC, 1998. Ensaio de caracterização agrária integrada do norte de Portugal no contexto do continente. Estudo com vista à orientação do AGROS na perspectiva da modernidade no equilíbrio. PhD dissertation. University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal.

Ruiz-Mirazo J, Martínez-Fernández J, Vega-García C, 2012. Pastoral wildfires in the Mediterranean: understanding their linkages to land cover patterns in managed landscapes. Journal of Environmental Management 98: 43-50.

Ruiz-Mirazo J, Robles A, 2012. Impact of targeted sheep grazing on herbage and holm oak saplings in a silvopastoral wildfire prevention system in south-eastern Spain. Agroforestry Systems 86: 477-491.

Sokal R, Rohlf FJ. 1995. Biometry. Freeman and Company WH, 3rd ed. New York, USA.

SPSS, Inc, 2006. SPSS for Windows 2003, standard version, 13.0.

Torres-Manso F, 2004. O pastoreio e a protecção dos ecossistemas florestais. PhD dissertation. University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal.

Valderrábano J, Torrano L, 2000. The potential for using goats to control Genista scorpius shrubs in European black pine stands. Forest Ecology and Management 126: 377-383.

Vélez R, 2006. A defesa contra incêndios florestais: estratégias, recursos, organização. In: Incêndios florestais em Portugal: caracterização, impactes e prevenção (Pereira JS, Pereira JM, Rego FC, Silva JM, Silva TP, eds). ISA/Press, Lisboa. pp: 357-368.

Vélez R, 2009. The causing fires: a focus on economic and social driving forces. In: Living in wildfires: what science can tell us (Birot, ed). EFFI Discussion paper 15, European Forest Institute, Joensuu. pp: 21-25.

Viedma O, Angeler DG, Moreno JM, 2009. Landscape structural features control fire size in a Mediterranean forested area in central Spain. International Journal of Wildland Fire 18: 575-583.

How to Cite
Torres-MansoF., FernandesP., PintoR., BotelhoH., & MonzonA. (2014). Regional livestock grazing, human demography and fire incidence in the Portuguese landscape. Forest Systems, 23(1), 15-21.
Research Articles