Landscape Planning and Permaculture interventions for Fire Prevention in Headwater systems. Monchique case study

19:00 Tuesday 28 May




Maria Teresa Neto Santos (Portugal) 1; Selma B. Pena (Portugal) 2

1 - Universidade de Lisboa, Instituto Superior de Agronomia; 2 - Universidade de Lisboa, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, LEAF - Linking Landscape, Environment, Agriculture and Food Research Centre

Wildfires are an essential issue to be addressed in Portugal at the landscape planning scale. Not only fires are becoming more recurrent but also the social, ecological and economic impacts are increasingly more relevant while the lack of adequate landscape planning and expected climate change tend to worsen the scenario. The drought factor in this country also makes assuring groundwater recharge and rivers basins’ ecological flow first goals when outlining land uses. The Headwater systems (HS) are the upper part of a drainage basin located between the ridgeline and the beginning of water drainage network and are a strategic component of the landscape to address both of these problems. Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in nature, globally emerging as a bottom-up framework for simultaneously improving ecosystems resilience and human self-sufficiency.

This work aims to contribute with a case-study for planning permaculture interventions at the landscape level, in the burned HS from the 2018 fire in Monchique area. The goal is to provide solutions that would prevent both wildfires spread and soil and water degradation by improving the local micro-climate and watershed catchment, increasing soil moisture and air humidity, creating wind barriers and promoting water infiltration, soil stabilization, and biodiversity conservation. GIS software was crucial for the assessment of landscape characteristics such as slopes, HS, vegetation suitability, land use, and climate conditions. It was studied what kind of intervention typologies could be applied in the HS from Monchique, combining landscape ecological characteristics with permaculture design. Earthworks such as dams and swales, but also vegetation changes are some of the proposed measures.

The permaculture interventions’ typologies discrimination by slope classes showed a clear predominance of ‘reforestation’ work to be done in these particular HS up to 86.1% in the cliff-sides; followed by far by ‘Swales with reforestation’ in 10.17% of the area principally on the ridgelines or around the residual 3.73% of flatter area suitable for ‘Dam construction’.