Article

Forest fuel management for wildfire prevention in Spain: a quantitative SWOT analysis.

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Spain is one of the Mediterranean countries most severely affected by wildfires during the last 30 years, despite enhanced fire suppression efforts. At present, forest area is increasing more in Spain than in any other European country, and also has one of the highest densities of fire ignitions. However, forest management plans have been developed for only 13% of Spanish forest areas. The objective of the present study was to assess the role of forest fuel management for wildfire prevention in Spain. Different fuel management techniques, including mechanical treatments, prescribed burning and controlled grazing, were considered. A quantitative SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis was performed, based on a thorough documentation review and on the opinions of forest fire experts. Results enabled the identification of obstacles that hinder the implementation of effective fuel management, and suggested strategic recommendations to overcome them. New opportunities related to rural development activities (e.g. promotion of ‘FIRESMART’ products) would be highly relevant in fire-prone forest areas. These opportunities should provide additional funding for sustainable forest management and could foster fuel management activities that would directly involve and benefit rural populations.
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