The aim of this project is to bring together multidisciplinary state-of-the-art knowledge on forest ecosystems models, wildfire simulation, forest ecosystem management planning methods, forest policy and economics and stakeholder engagement and research dissemination, to develop scientifically sound methods and design tools that may help forest policy and decision makers address the challenge of integrating wildfire concerns in landscape-level forest management planning. This will encompass the development, integration, and utilization of a forest management planning wildfire behavior model, tools to simulate decision spaces under scenarios of climate change and spatial optimization and multiple criteria approach that may help select from those decision spaces plans that may address effectively wildfire concerns by forest stakeholders.
The emphasis is on the development of an innovative interdisciplinary approach to help integrate wildfire behavior models in forest management planning and help policymakers in designing mechanisms to prevent wildfires. The Portuguese forest area that will be selected as case study based on its ecological and socioeconomic significance is Vale do Sousa, a forested landscape where maritime pine and eucalypt are predominant and with multiple private forest owners. Four tasks will be undertaken. 1 – “Forest inventory and growth simulation” to characterize the case study area from environmental and ecosystem data as well as from process-based growth and yield models to project the forested landscape over time under scenarios of climate change, thus generating the forest ecosystem management decision space; 2 – “Fire behavior simulation and fire risk and spread model calibration” to innovate on estimation of the forested landscape wildfire ignition probability, stand flammability and wildfire spread features thus generating the forest ecosystem management planning wildfire simulator. 3 – “Integration of fire risk and spread probability in forest management planning with multicriteria decision methods” to innovate and develop an approach to integrate wildfire risk and spread into landscape-level management planning and to optimize the spatial-temporal of management options, namely fuel treatments thus minimizing expect loss from wildfires. 4 – “Integration and case study application” to engage forest owners and stakeholders within the project, modeling their preferences and apply a research-integration-utilization model, to develop negotiation and dissemination
settings that may promote the use of this multiple criteria approach to address wildfire concerns and balance wildfire protection levels with the provision of other ecosystem services.
These innovative results will contribute to overcome a structural obstacle to the development of the Portuguese Forest Sector, namely the lack of tools to integrate effectively wildfire and forest management planning activities in contexts characterized by property fragmentation and multiple decision makers. The results may thus be influential too to strengthen institutional frameworks, e.g. forest owners associations that may promote the integrated landscape level planning and to contribute further to the development of policies and plans targeting wildfire protection at both regional and national levels.