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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-359
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
07 Nov 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).
Global assessment of land cover changes and rural-urban interface in Portugal
Marj Tonini1, Joana Parente2, and Mario Pereira2 1Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics (IDYST), Faculty of Geosciences and Environment, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, 1000, Switzerland
2Centro de Investigação e de Tecnologias Agro-Ambientais e Biológicas (CITAB), Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD), Vila Real, 5000-801, Portugal
Abstract. The wildland-/rural-urban interface (WUI/RUI) is a particularly important aspect of the fire regime. In Mediterranean basin most of the fires in this pyro region are caused by humans and the risk and consequences are particularly high due to the close proximity to population, human infrastructures and urban areas. Population increase, urban growth and the rapid changes in land use incurred in Europe over the last 30 years has been unprecedented, especially nearby the metropolitan areas, and some of these trends are expected to continue. Associated to high socioeconomic development, Portugal experienced in the last decades significant land cover/land use changes (LCLUC), population dynamics and demographic trends in response to migration, rural abandonment, and ageing of rural population. This study aims to assess the evolution of RUI in Portugal, from 1990 to 2012, based on LCLUC providing also a quantitative characterization of forest fires dynamics in relation to the burnt area. Obtained results disclose important LCLUC which spatial distribution is far from uniform within the territory. A significant increase in artificial surfaces is registered nearby the main metropolitan communities of the northwest and littoral-central and southern regions, whilst the abandonment of agricultural land nearby the inland urban areas leads to an increase of uncultivated semi-natural and forest areas. Within agricultural areas, heterogeneous patches suffered the greatest changes and are the main contributors to the increase of urban areas. Moreover these are among the LCLU classes with higher burnt area, reasons why heterogeneous agricultural areas have been included in the definition of RUI. Finally, the mapped RUI’s area, burnt area and burnt area within RUI allow to conclude that, form 1990 to 2012 in Portugal, RUI increased more than two thirds and total burnt area decreased one third. Nevertheless, burnt area within RUI doubled, which emphasize the significance of RUI for land and fire managers. This research provides a first quantitative global assessment of RUI in Portugal and presents an innovative analysis on the impact of land use changes on burnt areas.

Citation: Tonini, M., Parente, J., and Pereira, M.: Global assessment of land cover changes and rural-urban interface in Portugal, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-359, in review, 2017.
Marj Tonini et al.
Marj Tonini et al.
Marj Tonini et al.

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Short summary
We assessed the evolution of RUI in Portugal from 1990 to 2012, based on land cover changes, providing also a quantitative characterization of forest fires dynamics in relation to the burnt area (BA). Obtained results disclose: a significant increase in artificial surfaces nearby main metropolitan communities and the abandonment of agricultural lands nearby the inland urban areas; mapped RUIs revealing an increase of RUI and a decrease of total BA, although BA within RUI doubled.
We assessed the evolution of RUI in Portugal from 1990 to 2012, based on land cover changes,...
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