Sustainable land management, wildfire risk and the role of grazing in Mediterranean urban-rural interfaces: a regional approach from Greece
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Andrea Colantoni; Gianluca Egidi; Giovanni Quaranta; Roberto D'Alessandro; Sabato Vinci; Rosario Turco; Luca Salvati
Publication Year: 2020

Cataloging Information

  • fire frequency
  • fuel reduction
  • goats
  • grazing
  • Greece
  • mediterranean landscape
  • periurban areas
  • sheep
  • wildfires
  • International
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: January 14, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 60561


Mediterranean regions are likely to be the most vulnerable areas to wildfires in Europe. In this context, land-use change has promoted land abandonment and the consequent accumulation of biomass (fuel) in (progressively less managed) forests and (non-forest) natural land, causing higher fire density and severity, economic damage, and land degradation. The expansion of Wildland-Urban Interfaces (WUIs) further affects fire density by negatively impacting peri-urban farming and livestock density. Assuming the role of grazing in controlling fuel accumulation in forests and non-forest natural land as an indirect measure of wildfire containment around large Mediterranean cities, our work focuses on the role of nomadic livestock, i.e., sheep and goats-the most abundant and traditional farm species in the area. The present study (i) investigates the relationship between fire frequency/extent and livestock decline at the regional level in Greece, (ii) explores changes over time in regional wildfire regimes, comparing Attica, a particularly vulnerable peri-urban region which includes Athens (the Greek capital city), with the rest of the country, and (iii) quantifies trends over time in livestock characteristics (population structure and dynamics) over a sufficiently long time interval (1961-2017) at the same spatial scale, with the aim to document the progressive reduction of nomadic livestock in peri-urban districts. A comprehensive analysis of statistical data, corroborated with a literature review, outlined the relationship between livestock decline over time and changes in specific wildfire characteristics at the regional scale, evidencing peculiar environmental conditions in Attica. In this region, a rapid decline of nomadic livestock was observed compared to in the rest of Greece, leading to a higher wildfire risk. The results of this study suggest that nomadic livestock contributes to sustainable management of peri-urban land, stimulating grazing that may prevent fuel accumulation in fringe woodlands.

Online Link(s):
Colantoni, Andrea; Egidi, Gianluca; Quaranta, Giovanni; D'Alessandro, Roberto; Vinci, Sabato; Turco, Rosario; Salvati, Luca. 2020. Sustainable land management, wildfire risk and the role of grazing in Mediterranean urban-rural interfaces: a regional approach from Greece. Land 9(1):21.