International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire

Regional variations in wildfire susceptibility of land-cover types in Portugal: implications for landscape management to minimize fire hazard

Francisco Moreira A B , Pedro Vaz A , Filipe Catry A and Joaquim S. Silva A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre of Applied Ecology ‘Prof. Baeta Neves’, Institute of Agronomy, Technical University of Lisbon, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisbon, Portugal.

B Corresponding author. Email:

International Journal of Wildland Fire 18(5) 563-574
Submitted: 19 July 2007  Accepted: 29 July 2008   Published: 10 August 2009


Patterns of wildfire occurrence at the landscape level were characterised during the period 1990–94 in Portugal. Based on land-cover information within 5591 burned patches (larger than 5 ha) and in the surrounding landscape, selection ratio functions were used to measure fire preference or avoidance for different land-cover types in 12 regions of the country. Shrublands were the most fire-prone land cover, whereas annual crops, permanent crops and agro-forestry systems were the most avoided by fire. In terms of forest types, conifer plantations were more susceptible to fire than eucalyptus, and broadleaved forests were the least fire-prone. There were regional variations in land-cover susceptibility to fire, which may be explained by differences in climate, management, ignition patterns, firefighting strategies, and regional availability. A cluster analysis of regional variations in selection ratios for all land covers allowed the identification of three main geographical areas with similar fire selection patterns. These results can be used for planning landscape-scale fuel management in order to create landscapes with a lower fire hazard.

Additional keywords: fuel breaks, Mediterranean, selection patterns.


The present research was carried out within the scope of projects POCI/AGR/58896/2004 ‘Phoenix – Forest conversion in burned areas’ and PTDC/AGR-CFL/64146/2006 ‘Decision-support tools for integrating fire and forest management planning’, financed by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, ‘FFP – Recuperação de áreas ardidas’, financed by Instituto de Financiamento da Agricultura e Pescas, and FP6 Integrated Project ‘FIRE PARADOX’ (FP6–018505).


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