Small ruminants as a fire management tool in a Mediterranean mountain region Conference Paper uri icon


  • Forests represent a key-resource for the Mediterranean region and have supplied wood and non-wood products for centuries. Socioeconomic transformations of last decades in rural areas convert these areas into bombs-clock able of blowing up every summer. Actually, Southern Europe has in last years experienced dramatic changes in the fire regime because of changes in land use. Further alterations toward more severe fire events are expected with the prospect of a warmer and drier future. Portugal has adopted some policy regulations to protect the forest, including national strategy for forests, national defense plan against forest fires. Despite improvements fire’s statistics, Portugal failed to achieve the goals it had set itself. Political options privilege fire suppression, even though land and forest management issues are at the core of the wildfire problem. Agroforestry systems can be used as a forest fire prevention technique, since they implement a fuel management network at different scales of landscape. Particularly, silvopastoral systems (SSP) are especially interesting as a fuel management tool and reducing fire risk. The objectives of this study were to compare the diet of goats and sheep in a SSP namely mosaic of different land uses within one management unit. Grazing itineraries were recorded by means of a GPS. Goats´ diet had a significantly higher content of shrubs and trees species than of sheep. Sheep showed a higher content of herbaceous species in their diets and a higher preference for stubble. Erica sp. and Rubus sp. in goats were the shrubs with the highest preference index. Both animals avoided Cytisus multiflorum in winter and spring, and Cistus ladanifer in summer.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014