EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Local assessment of technical forestry awareness on soil erosion after wildfire – the case study of Central Portugal region

Ana R. Lopes1, Sandra Valente2, Jacob Keizer3, and Diana Vieira4
Ana R. Lopes et al.
  • 1Cesam - Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal (
  • 2ForestWise - CoLAB, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto-Douro, Vila Real, Portugal
  • 3Cesam - Centre for Environmental and Marines Studies, University of Aveiro, Portugal
  • 4European Comission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Italy

Wildfires consist in an environmental problem with a global dimension, but also with future demands as fire prone regions will likely increase, driven by new climate constrains but also socioeconomic drivers. Similarly to other land degradation pressures, despite the large scale of its occurrence, wildfires impacts require assessment and mitigation actions at local scale. Therefore, there is an urgent need to identify local agent’s perspectives regarding wildfires impacts in the ecosystems, and incorporate their local knowledge into post-fire land management decision making. Can a local analysis contribute to political decision-making, streamlining and simplifying processes established at national level?

In an attempt to assess the local perception that technical forest managers have on soil erosion after wildfire, an investigation was conducted, having the central region of Portugal as case study. In this project, we assessed the relevance that technical forest managers give to post-fire soil erosion, by identifying the priority of their activities, established procedures, and their perception of present and future risk following wildfires. Thus, a survey was structured and provided to 108 entities (100 municipalities and 8 inter-municipal communities), being active for reply between 14 September and 14 October 2022. The survey was structured in three main sections: i) general characterization of the entity, ii) description of its global relationship with forest land management and actions after wildfire, and iii) identification of procedures and technical tools used for post-fire land management.

From the 108 requests, 78 answers were obtained, and 52 were considered valid for analysis. The results identified a general concern with soil erosion after wildfire. However, the focus of individual local concerns with wildfires impacts is mostly targeted to loss of biodiversity, the abandonment and degradation of affected areas, followed only then by the soil losses by erosion. Respondents also identified that they have implemented, or are aware of the implementation, of erosion mitigation measures in their actuation area, being these measures mainly represented by the construction of organic barriers and interventions in water bodies, for soil stabilization and overflow redirection. Technical tools are generally used for forest management planning, but not with the main intention to control soil erosion neither to promote its rehabilitation. Respondents also refer that an open source, and updated, technical tools on this scope would allow them to design an emergency strategy on time. This would also enable the support of the local decision-making process, and contribute to a standardized and streamlined response from diverse municipalities affected by the same wildfire.

According to the results obtained, two main strategies can be inferred in order to promote the local conservation of forest soils after an wildfire: i) local empowerment to act and contribute with technical support to private local forest owners and managers, and ii) the reinforce of the awareness-raising process, by adapting campaigns (information/language) to the different, affected and interested, stakeholders.

How to cite: R. Lopes, A., Valente, S., Keizer, J., and Vieira, D.: Local assessment of technical forestry awareness on soil erosion after wildfire – the case study of Central Portugal region, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-277,, 2023.