Caring about the future

ShareFOREST - Sharing decisions in forests – participatory methodology for public and stakeholder engagement in the protection and valorisation of forests in Portugal
Coordinator - Elisabete Figueiredo
Programme - Projetos de Investigação Científica e Desenvolvimento Tecnológico no Âmbito da Prevenção e Combate a Incêndios Florestais
Execution dates - 2021-03-01 - 2024-02-29 (36 Months)
Funding Entity - FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
Funding for CESAM - 184630 €
Total Funding - 279038 €
Proponent Institution - Universidade de Aveiro
Participating Institutions
IPL - Instituto Politécnico de Leiria
OIKOS - Cooperação e Desenvolvimento

Project Description
The catastrophic wildfires of 2017 have triggered in the civil society a broad debate about future decisions and actions towards the rehabilitation and valorisation of Portuguese forests. Although sustainable forest management is a central pillar on public policies in Portugal, the decision-making processes are still traditional and centralized and have evidenced limitations both in the inclusion of society needs and in the promotion of the full value of forests. Thus, it is essential to develop models for forest governance, able to promote the engagement of public and stakeholders in the decision-making processes, to reinforce territorial governance and to stimulate a change in the values, attitudes and behaviours as to the protection and valorisation of forests.

ShareFOREST project assumes as main research hypothesis that public and stakeholder participation in decisions concerning forests can contribute to reduce conflicts, build trust and facilitate learning between the diverse engaged stakeholders. In the Portuguese context, where wildfires have reached dramatic proportions, the participation and engagement of citizens in the rehabilitation of the public forestlands located in the Central Coast (Matas do Litoral) and in the prevention of future wildfires appear as excellent opportunities to re- connect the local communities with forests. These opportunities demand a paradigm change in the decision-making processes and an increase of the public participation's culture and an evaluation of the real public engagement impacts.

The central aim of ShareFOREST is the development and operationalization of a participatory methodology to support co-decision in planning and management of forests, reinforcing the principles behind territorial governance and, as ultimate mission, preventing and mitigating the impacts of future wildfires. The implementation of the methodology in the Matas do Litoral territory can reinforce the dynamism of local stakeholders in the protection of public forests and can generate an agenda for public discussion about forests and rural fires in Portugal.

The project involves a multidisciplinary team, integrating two academic partners from Central region of Portugal (UAVR and IPLeiria) and a regional non-academic partner (OIKOS). The project foresees the participation of an international expert on forest and wildfires and an Advisory Board, joining key stakeholders from the Matas do Litoral and national experts on forests and fire prevention in all research stages.

CESAM members on this project
Celeste Coelho

Sandra M. Valente

CESAM Funding: UIDP/50017/2020 + UIDB/50017/2020 + LA/P/0094/2020