Mountain farmland protection and fire-smart management jointly reduce fire hazard and enhance biodiversity and carbon sequestration

By Núria Prat on

Authors: Silvana Pais, Núria Aquilué, João Campos, Ângelo Sil, Bruno Marcos, Fernando Martínez-Freiría, Jesús Domínguez, Lluís Brotons, João P. Honrado, Adrián Regos

The environmental and socio-economic impacts of wildfires are foreseen to increase across southern Europe overthe next decades regardless of increasing resources allocated for fire suppression. This study aims to identify fire-smart management strategies that promote wildfire hazard reduction, climate regulation ecosystem service andbiodiversity conservation. Here we simulate fire-landscape dynamics, carbon sequestration and species dis-tribution (116 vertebrates) in the Transboundary Biosphere Reserve Gerês-Xurés (NW Iberia). We envisage 11scenarios resulting from different management strategies following four storylines: Business-as-usual (BAU),expansion of High Nature Value farmlands (HNVf), Fire-Smart forest management, and HNVf plus Fire-Smart.Fire-landscape simulations reveal an increase of up to 25% of annual burned area. HNVf areas may counter-balance this increasing fire impact, especially when combined with fire-smart strategies (reductions of up to 50%between 2031 and 2050). The Fire-Smart and BAU scenarios attain the highest estimates for total carbon se-questered. A decrease in habitat suitability (around 18%) since 1990 is predicted for species of conservationconcern under the BAU scenario, while HNVf would support the best outcomes in terms of conservation. Ourstudy highlights the benefits of integrating fire hazard control, ecosystem service supply and biodiversity con-servation to inform better decision-making in mountain landscapes of Southern Europe

Login or register to download this file