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Open AccessArticle

A 13-Year Approach to Understand the Effect of Prescribed Fires and Livestock Grazing on Soil Chemical Properties in Tivissa, NE Iberian Peninsula

1
Grup de Recerca Ambiental Mediterrània (GRAM), Department of Geography, University of Barcelona, Montalegre 6, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
2
Soil Erosion and Degradation Research Group, Department of Geography, Valencia University, Blasco Ibàñez, 28, 46010 Valencia, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2020, 11(9), 1013; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11091013
Received: 3 August 2020 / Revised: 4 September 2020 / Accepted: 11 September 2020 / Published: 21 September 2020
The high density of fuel accumulated in the Mediterranean ecosystems due to land abandonment results in high severity fires. Traditional fire practices and livestock grazing have played an important role in shaping the structure and composition of Mediterranean landscapes, and both can be efficient tools to manage them now that land abandonment is widespread. Attempts at controlling forest fires are essential for landscape management practices that, in their turn, seek to maintain a specific species composition. Against this backdrop, this study aims to determine the short- and long-term effects of the combined management practices of prescribed fires and goat grazing on the chemical properties of soils in Tivissa, Tarragona (NE Iberian Peninsula). Forty-two samples were collected in a 4 × 18 m plot before the prescribed fire of 2002 (1), immediately after the 2002 prescribed fire (PF) (2), one year after the 2002 PF (3), three years after the 2002 PF (4), and thirteen years after the 2002 PF (5). Soil samples were taken at each sampling point from the top layer (0–5 cm), sieved to obtain a <2 mm fraction, and soil pH, EC, Total C, total N, available P, K+, Ca2+, and Mg2+ were determined. The results indicate that the short-term effects of fire are more relevant than those attributable to the livestock over the long term due to the low grazing intensity of less than one goat per ha. The long-term effects of prescribed fires were not visible in the research, suggesting that they recovered after burning with all their functions intact and with enhanced levels of natural fertility. Combined land management practices of prescribed fire and livestock grazing did not affect soil chemical properties. The applied management enhanced soil fertility and boosted the ecosystem’s resilience. View Full-Text
Keywords: fire; ecology; nutrients; fertility; landscape; management; grazing; goats; plants; mountains fire; ecology; nutrients; fertility; landscape; management; grazing; goats; plants; mountains
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Alcañiz, M.; Úbeda, X.; Cerdà, A. A 13-Year Approach to Understand the Effect of Prescribed Fires and Livestock Grazing on Soil Chemical Properties in Tivissa, NE Iberian Peninsula. Forests 2020, 11, 1013.

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