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Open AccessFeature PaperCommentary

Sustainable Land Management, Wildfire Risk and the Role of Grazing in Mediterranean Urban-Rural Interfaces: A Regional Approach from Greece

1
Department of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences (DAFNE), Tuscia University, Via S. Camillo De Lellis snc, I-01100 Viterbo, Italy
2
Mathematics, Computer Science and Economics Department, University of Basilicata, Viale dell’Ateneo Lucano, I-85100 Potenza, Italy
3
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Via della Navicella 2-4, I-00184 Rome, Italy
4
Department of Political Science, Third University of Rome, Via G. Chiabrera 199, I-00145 Rome, Italy
5
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Viale Santa Margherita 80, I-52100 Arezzo, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 December 2019 / Revised: 7 January 2020 / Accepted: 13 January 2020 / Published: 14 January 2020
Mediterranean regions are likely to be the most vulnerable areas to wildfires in Europe. In this context, land-use change has promoted land abandonment and the consequent accumulation of biomass (fuel) in (progressively less managed) forests and (non-forest) natural land, causing higher fire density and severity, economic damage, and land degradation. The expansion of Wildland-Urban Interfaces (WUIs) further affects fire density by negatively impacting peri-urban farming and livestock density. Assuming the role of grazing in controlling fuel accumulation in forests and non-forest natural land as an indirect measure of wildfire containment around large Mediterranean cities, our work focuses on the role of nomadic livestock, i.e., sheep and goats—the most abundant and traditional farm species in the area. The present study (i) investigates the relationship between fire frequency/extent and livestock decline at the regional level in Greece, (ii) explores changes over time in regional wildfire regimes, comparing Attica, a particularly vulnerable peri-urban region which includes Athens (the Greek capital city), with the rest of the country, and (iii) quantifies trends over time in livestock characteristics (population structure and dynamics) over a sufficiently long time interval (1961–2017) at the same spatial scale, with the aim to document the progressive reduction of nomadic livestock in peri-urban districts. A comprehensive analysis of statistical data, corroborated with a literature review, outlined the relationship between livestock decline over time and changes in specific wildfire characteristics at the regional scale, evidencing peculiar environmental conditions in Attica. In this region, a rapid decline of nomadic livestock was observed compared to in the rest of Greece, leading to a higher wildfire risk. The results of this study suggest that nomadic livestock contributes to sustainable management of peri-urban land, stimulating grazing that may prevent fuel accumulation in fringe woodlands. View Full-Text
Keywords: wildfires; peri-urban area; sheep; goats; Mediterranean landscape wildfires; peri-urban area; sheep; goats; Mediterranean landscape
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MDPI and ACS Style

Colantoni, A.; Egidi, G.; Quaranta, G.; D’Alessandro, R.; Vinci, S.; Turco, R.; Salvati, L. Sustainable Land Management, Wildfire Risk and the Role of Grazing in Mediterranean Urban-Rural Interfaces: A Regional Approach from Greece. Land 2020, 9, 21.

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