Caring about the future

FirEProd - Prescribed burning, fire risk and eucalypts productivity: from research to practice
Coordinator - Sofia Caçoilo Corticeiro
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 - 193589.82 €
Total Funding - 274713.75 €
Proponent Institution - Universidade de Aveiro
Participating Institutions
RAIZ - Instituto de Investigação da Floresta e Papel

Project Description
The increase in frequency and severity of wildfires has become a major concern in Portugal. Considering the extent of burned
area in Portugal during the last decade and the percentage of forest area occupied by eucalypts, fire management models and
techniques well adapted to the specific characteristics of this type of plantation are crucial to actually reduce fire risk and to
mitigate the negative ecological, social, economic and political effects of wildfires. Prescribed burning is an efficient method for
managing forest fuel loads, but under used in Portugal, and when used is mainly in pine stands and shrubland areas. Previous
works have already determined the technical basis for prescribed burning in Portuguese eucalypts plantations, but the its
integration as part of a preventive forest management model and its operationalization remain a challenge, especially considering
the reality of the Portuguese forest.
The viability of using of prescribed burning in eucalypts plantations needs to be investigated not only by its efficiency to reduce fire risk but also considering its potential impact on soil and trees under field conditions. Since besides fire risk reduction, eucalypts productivity is also a central topic in sustainable forest management and a major concern to forest managers. To address prescribed burning as a preventive forest management method, efforts need to be done to understand and to estimate its impact on eucalyptus productivity. Under this context, the main aims of the current proposal are 1) to assess the role of prescribed burning in forest fuel management and in fire risk reduction and 2) to evaluate if this method impacts eucalyptus growth in mature plantations.
FirEProd project integrates a holistic approach concerning the technical, scientific and social insights related to the use of
prescribed burning in forest management and its impact on eucalyptus productivity. To achieve the first goal two vegetation
control methods will be tested: prescribed burning and a mechanical weed control treatment. The second aim will be
accomplished by comparing eucalypts growth of treated plantations between treatments and against low severity eucalypts
burned areas. If prescribed burning has any effects on stands productivity, this later approach will allow to clarify the extent of
such effects. FirEProd proposes to perform a thorough field sampling during key stages of the project related to the evaluation of
soil physical and chemical properties and eucalypts physiological status by treatment, with particular focus onto the macro and
micronutrients of soil and leaves due to their importance to eucalypts growth. The characterization of understory vegetation and
biomass loads will establish the efficiency of prescribed burning on the reduction of fire risk. Data collected during field samplings
will converge to estimate eucalypts stands productivity following a process-based models’ approach. Being aware of the main
concerns related to the operationalization of prescribed burning, FirEProd team will work directly with key stakeholders and
political decision makers to include their perspective on the analysis of the project results.
Moreover, as one of the project’s outputs will be the production of a preventive management guidelines manual that, according to
project results, will integrate a forest management model based on the use of prescribed fire in eucalypts plantations. Finally, as
prescribed burning can be a controversial issue, and given the existing restrains to its implementation, a SWOT (strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis was included in the current proposal to accurately evaluate the feasibility of the
proposed workplan, establishing mitigation strategies to overcome the main identified difficulties. FirEProd will be supported by a
highly experienced multidisciplinary team, congregating efforts between UA and RAIZ researchers, and counting with the
expertise of Professor Margarida Tomé and of Doctor Diana Vieira as consultants of this project.

CESAM members on this project
Jan Jacob Keizer

CESAM Funding: