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The National Plan to Protect Forests from Fires (NPPFF), structuring plan for the defence of our forest against fires which was approved in 2006 has 5 strategic action axes. The 2nd strategic axis, named “Reduce the incidence of fires”, includes 2 objectives. The second objective - “Improving insight into the causes of fires and their motivations” – is where the research project “The relationship between fire and pasturing in the county of Montalegre – sociological and biophysical perspectives” is included. This project had as main goal the contribution for a better comprehension of the fire use reality in pasture renewal in mountain zones, in order to define a strategy to fit technically this ancestral practice of fire use.

The study was financed by the Direcção Geral dos Recursos Florestais (now Autoridade Florestal Nacional) being coordinated by José Maria Pereira Coutinho, researcher at NÚMENA. The fieldwork which was developed between January and April of 2008 was produced by Lúcia Jorge, forestry engineer (UTAD) and by Manuel Gomes, environmental engineer (UTAD). The techniques used were the Delphi method, interviews to shepherds and the biophysical characterization. In the first one, were interviewed the members of the County Commission for the Defence of Forest Against Fires in Montalegre, who were questioned about the motivations related with the pasture renewal fires, as well as, about the circumstances in which they occur. In the second one, were interviewed shepherds of the county of Montalegre, to obtain information about fire use practices in pasture renewal, as well as, to comprehend the impact of sensitization activities on them. In the third one, with fieldwork support, it was analyzed the pasturing and burned areas to comprehend the relationship between both.

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Photo of mountain pastures