Understanding the impacts of the October 2017 Portugal wildfires on cultural heritage
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Rui Figueiredo; Esmeralda Paupério; Xavier Romão
Publication Year: 2021

Cataloging Information

  • archaeological heritage
  • architectural heritage
  • disaster
  • impacts
  • loss data
  • Portugal
  • risk management
  • wildfires
  • International
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: November 8, 2021
FRAMES Record Number: 64658


In a changing world where the frequency of natural hazards is increasing, the consequences of disasters on cultural heritage assets are still not well understood. This can be attributed to shortcomings in existing risk management practices and to the fact that disaster consequences in the cultural sector are seldom recorded in a structured manner. On 15 October 2017, an extreme wildfire event took place in Portugal, causing significant human and material losses. However, little information is available about its impacts on cultural heritage. This article describes a study that was carried out to identify cultural heritage assets affected by the event in inland central Portugal, and the types of impacts that they withstood, based on local information collected from a sample of municipalities estimated to have been the most affected. The municipalities were selected based on a geospatial analysis supported by maps of estimated burnt areas and national datasets of cultural heritage. The information provided by the municipalities is comprehensively reported and discussed. Although the consequences of the wildfires on cultural heritage were not particularly severe, relevant direct and indirect damage occurred, and further indirect consequences may arise in the future as a result of the event. Improved knowledge and awareness regarding wildfire risk management for cultural heritage assets, supported by research initiatives such the one presented here, are called for.

Online Link(s):
Figueiredo, Rui; Paupério, Esmeralda; Romão, Xavier. 2021. Understanding the impacts of the October 2017 Portugal wildfires on cultural heritage. Heritage 4(4):2580-2598.