Characterization of wildfires in Portugal

  • Marques S
  • Borges J
  • Garcia-Gonzalo J
 et al. 
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Abstract

Forest fires severity has increased in Portugal in the last decades. Climate change scenarios suggest the reinforcement of this severity. Forest ecosystem managers and policy-makers thus face the challenge of developing effective fire prevention policies. The characterization of forest fires is instrumental for meeting this challenge. An approach for characterizing fire occurrence in Portugal, combining the use of geographic information systems and statistical analysis techniques, is presented. Emphasis was on the relationships between ecological and socioeconomic features and fire occurrence. The number and sizes of wildfires in Portugal were assessed for three 5-year periods (1987–1991, 1990–1994, and 2000–2004). Features maps were overlaid with perimeters of forest fires, and the pro- portion of burned area for each period was modeled using weighted generalized linear models (WGLM). Descriptive Communicated by A. Merino. S. Marques (&) J. G. Borges J. Garcia-Gonzalo B. Botequim J. M. C. Pereira Forest Research Center, Institute of Agronomy, Technical University of Lisbon, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisbon, Portugal e-mail: smarques@isa.utl.pt F. Moreira Centre of Applied Ecology ‘‘Prof. Baeta Neves’’, Institute of Agronomy, Technical University of Lisbon, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisbon, Portugal J. M. B. Carreiras Department of Natural Sciences, Tropical Research Institute (IICT), Rua Joa ̃o de Barros, 27, 1300-319 Lisbon, Portugal M. M. Oliveira A. Cantarinha University of E ́vora, Largo dos Colegiais 2, 7004-516 E ́vora, Portugal statistics showed variations in the distribution of fire size over recent decades, with a significant increase in the number of very large fires. Modeling underlined the impact of the forest cover type on the proportion of area burned. The statistical analysis further showed that socioeconomic features such as the proximity to roads impact the proba- bility of fires occurrence. Results suggest that this approach may provide insight needed to develop fire prevention policies.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Fire characterization
  • Fire risk
  • Geographic information system
  • Land use

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