Environmental Earth Sciences
In order to decrease the risk of severe wildfire, prescribed fire has recently been adopted in Portugal and elsewhere in the Mediterranean as a major tool for reducing the fuel load instead of manual or mechanical removal of vegetation. There has been some research into its impact on soils in shrublands and grasslands, but to date little research has been conducted in forested areas in the region. As a result, the impact of prescribed fire on the physico-chemical soil characteristics of forest soils has been assumed to be minimal, but this has not been demonstrated. In this study, we present the results of a monitoring campaign of a detailed pre- and post-prescribed fire assessment of soil properties in a long-unburnt P. pinaster plantation, NW Portugal. The soil characteristics examined were pH, total porosity, bulk density, moisture content, organic matter content and litter/ash quantity. The results show that there was no significant impact on the measured soil properties, the only effect being confined to minor changes in the upper 1 cm of soil. We conclude that provided the fire is carried out according to strict guidelines in P. pinaster forest, a minimal impact on soil properties can be expected. © 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Year of publication: 2015