Land use and Topography Influences on Wildfire Occurrence in Northern Portugal

Miguel Carmo, Francisco Moreira, Pedro João Cruz Cortesão Casimiro, Pedro Vaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the spatial patterns of wildfire ignition and spread has important implications for landscape planning for reducing fire hazard. In this paper we characterise the patterns of wildfire occurrence in 3 regions of northern Portugal, using selection ratio functions to evaluate the fire proneness of different land cover and topographic categories. For attaining this objective we characterised 1382 wildfires larger than 5 ha, which occurred in the years 1990-1991, according to land cover (10 categories), slope (5 categories) and aspect (5 categories) within which they occurred. For each fire, the use of the different land cover and topographic categories was compared with availability in a surrounding buffer. For land cover, fire proneness was much higher in shrublands, whereas agricultural areas and agro-forestry systems where less likely to burn. In terms of slope, steep slopes were more prone to fire. Differences in land cover in the different slope categories contributed to this result, although there was an overall slope effect on the fire proneness of all land cover types. In terms of aspect, only flat areas were less fire prone. Finally, there were regional variations in land cover susceptibility to fire, but these did not occur for slope or aspect. In terms of landscape planning these results suggest that the more effective fuel breaks should be implemented in areas with agricultural crops in flat slopes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-176
Number of pages7
JournalLandscape And Urban Planning
Issue number100
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011


  • Selection patterns
  • Landscape management
  • Fire risk
  • Mediterranean


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