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Is Native Forest an Alternative to Prevent Wildfire in the WUI in Central Portugal? †

Escola Superior Agrária, Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra, 3045-601 Coimbra, Portugal
Instituto Mediterrâneo para Agricultura, Ambiente e Desenvolvimento, Universidade de Évora, 7000-803 Évora, Portugal
Departamento de Ciências Florestais e Arquitectura Paisagista, Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, 5000-801 Vila Real, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the Third International Conference on Fire Behavior and Risk, Sardinia, Italy, 3–6 May 2022.
Environ. Sci. Proc. 2022, 17(1), 56;
Published: 10 August 2022
(This article belongs to the Proceedings of The Third International Conference on Fire Behavior and Risk)
The expansion of the 2017 megafires in Portugal was observed to be locally halted by native broadleaf forest patches. Here, we present spatial simulation scenarios of fire behavior to assess whether native broadleaf forest cover mitigates fire spread during extreme wildfire conditions in wildland–urban interface (WUI) areas around industrial zones (IZs).
Our particular objective was to ascertain whether these forests could be an alternative land use in the 100 m management buffer around industries (mandatory management buffer, as per Portuguese Decree Law nº 82/2021). To this end, we combined a series of fire-behavior variables and used real-world data from the 2017 fires [1] to try to reproduce, through spatial modelling, those same fires in the broadleaved forest Mata da Margaraça and in the IZs: Oliveira do Hospital, Mira, and Tocha, located in the center of Portugal. Subsequently, we adopted the same fuel model and canopy cover (81–100%) from Mata da Margaraça to create alternative fire-behavior scenarios in 100 m and 500 m management ranges around IZs. Thus, we were able to assess whether a hypothetic conversion to native forest that has greater canopy cover would prevent fire from propagating into the IZs. All simulations were carried out within a 5 km buffer from the IZs to capture fire dynamics.
Our results suggest that broadleaved forest cover can reduce fire line intensity and rate of spread around IZs up to 20 and 8 times, respectively, on average. This reduction is more drastic as the surrounding area covered by broadleaves increases from 100 m to 500 m. Our results support the need to discuss forest management in Portugal to efficiently prevent intense fires in the WUI, encouraging the restoration of native forests and wider green fuel breaks.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, A.O. and J.S.; methodology, A.O. and J.S.; software, A.O.; validation, A.O.; formal analysis, A.O., J.S. and P.F.; investigation, A.O. and J.S.; resources, J.S.; data curation, A.O. and J.S.; writing—original draft preparation, A.O.; writing—review and editing, A.O., J.S., J.G., N.G. and P.F.; visualization, A.O., J.S., J.G., N.G. and P.F.; supervision, J.S.; project administration, J.S.; funding acquisition, J.S. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was carried out within the scope of the InduForestFire Project-CIF/MOS/0129/2018 (Interdisciplinary Methodologies for the Protection of Industrial Areas to Forest Fires), funded by national funds through the FCT—Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia—Portugal. A.O. received support from the FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia).

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


  1. Guerreiro, J.; Fonseca, C.; Salgueiro, A.; Fernandes, P.; Lopez Iglésias, E.; de Neufville, R.; Mateus, F.; Castellnou Ribau, M.; Sande Silva, J.; Moura, J.M.; et al. Avaliação dos incêndios ocorridos entre 14 e 16 de outubro de 2017 em Portugal continental; Assembleia da República: Lisboa, Portugal, 2018. [Google Scholar]
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MDPI and ACS Style

Oliveira, A.; Silva, J.; Gaspar, J.; Guiomar, N.; Fernandes, P. Is Native Forest an Alternative to Prevent Wildfire in the WUI in Central Portugal? Environ. Sci. Proc. 2022, 17, 56.

AMA Style

Oliveira A, Silva J, Gaspar J, Guiomar N, Fernandes P. Is Native Forest an Alternative to Prevent Wildfire in the WUI in Central Portugal? Environmental Sciences Proceedings. 2022; 17(1):56.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Oliveira, Aline, Joaquim Silva, José Gaspar, Nuno Guiomar, and Paulo Fernandes. 2022. "Is Native Forest an Alternative to Prevent Wildfire in the WUI in Central Portugal?" Environmental Sciences Proceedings 17, no. 1: 56.

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