Stakeholder perceptions of wildfire management strategies as nature-based solutions in two Iberian Biosphere Reserves

Judit Lecina-Diaz, Joao Campos, Silvana Pais, Claudia Carvalho-Santos, Joao Azevedo, Paolo Fernandes, Joao Goncalves, Nuria Aquilue, Jose Roces-Diaz, Maria Agrelo de la Torre, Lluis Brotons, Dr Chas-Amil, Angela Lomba, Andrea Duane, Francisco Moreira, Julia M. Touza, Vigilio Hermoso, Angelo Sil, Joana Vicente, Joao HonradoAdrian Regos

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Increased large and high-intensity wildfires causes large socioeconomic and ecological impacts, which demands improved landscape management approaches where both ecological and societal dimensions are integrated. Engaging society in fire management requires a better understanding of stakeholder perceptions of wildfires and landscape management. Here, we analyze stakeholder perceptions about wildfire-landscape interactions in abandoned rural landscapes of Southern Europe, and how fire and the land should be managed to reduce wildfire hazard and ensure the long-term supply of ecosystem services in these fire-prone regions. To do so, a structured online questionnaire was sent to stakeholders of two transboundary Biosphere Reservesin Spain-Portugal. Our analysis also questioned to what extent fuel management strategies can be considered nature-based solutions (NbS) using the IUCN standard. Overall, stakeholders state that fire should be managed and support fire prevention in lieu of fire suppression policies. Rural abandonment is perceived as the main cause of large wildfires, with high-intensity fires impacting the study regions more than in the recent past, a trend which they expect to continue in the future in the absence of management. All the suggested fuel management strategies, except chemical treatments, were accepted by the stakeholders who perceive more positive than negative effects of fuel management on forest ecosystem services. Transboundary coordination was rated as inadequate or even nonexistent. We did not find differences among stakeholder sectors and Biosphere Reserves, indicating that in the study area there is a general agreement on perceptions about wildfire and associated impacts at the landscape level. Finally, we showed that promoting agricultural and livestock uses, modifying forest species composition to increase fire resistance, and introducing large herbivores have the potential to become effective NbS in the regions. This study represents a first-step analysis representing a base for future co-design and implementation of NbS to improve fuel management, contributing to the understanding of the stakeholder support for their application in addressing the socioeconomic challenges in high fire-risk areas.
Original languageEnglish
Article number39
Number of pages40
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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© 2023 by the author(s)


  • Wildfires
  • Nature based solutions
  • stakeholders perceptions
  • Land use management

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