European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 136, Issue 1, pp 13–26 | Cite as

Does forest biomass harvesting for energy reduce fire hazard in the Mediterranean basin? a case study in the Caroig Massif (Eastern Spain)

  • Javier Madrigal
  • Irma Fernández-Migueláñez
  • Carmen Hernando
  • Mercedes Guijarro
  • Daniel J. Vega-Nieva
  • Eduardo Tolosana
Original Paper


The Mediterranean basin is a fire-prone area and is expected to continue being so according to projected climate and socioeconomic changes. Sustainable exploitation of forest biomass could have a positive effect on wildfire hazard mitigation. A modelling approach was used to compare how four different Scenarios for biomass collection for energy use affect fire behaviour and potential burnt area at landscape level under extreme meteorological conditions in a typical Mediterranean Massif. A case study of Pinus halepensis stands in Valencia (Eastern Spain) was conducted. The FARSITE simulator was used to evaluate the burnt area and fire behaviour parameters. Simulations predicted a significant increase in the burnt area and the values of most fire behaviour parameters in a Scenario of rural abandonment, relative to the current situation. Biomass management through thinning reduced canopy bulk density; however, no differences in the values of the main fire behaviour parameters were detected. Thinning and understory clearing, including biomass collection in large shrub fuel model areas, significantly reduces fire hazard. Forest biomass sustainable harvesting for energy is expected to reduce fire hazard if management includes intense modification of fuel models, comprising management of shrub biomass at the landscape level. Strong modification of forest fuel models requires intensive silvicultural treatments. Therefore, forest biomass collection for energy in the Mediterranean basin reduces fire hazard only if both tree and shrub strata are managed at landscape level.


Wildfire prevention Forest fuel management Fuel model Fire behaviour FARSITE Aleppo pine 



This study was developed by the contract between IBERDROLA enterprise and INIA (CON13-005) in the frame of LIFE+ European project “Bioenergy and Fire Prevention” (Life 09 EN-E.000450). This work was completed in the frame of SCALyFOR project (AGL2013-46028-R), GEPRIF project (RTA2014-00011-C06-01) and MedWildFireLab project (PCIN-2013-141-C04-04). Thanks to Raúl Quílez from Consorcio de Bomberos de Valencia (Valencian Firefighters) for providing Forest Fuel Map and Meteorological Scenario. Thanks to Bioenergy and Fire Prevention European Project for providing processed LiDAR data and field plots data. Climate data were provided from climatic records and projections elaborated by the Spanish Meteorological Agency (AEMET).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 313 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (PDF 748 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (PDF 606 kb)
10342_2016_1004_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (549 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (PDF 549 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Silviculture and Forest Systems Management Department, Forest Fire LaboratoryINIA—Forest Research CentreMadridSpain
  2. 2.iuFORSustainable Forest Management Forest Institute UVa-INIAPalenciaSpain
  3. 3.Faculty of Geography, Geographical Information Technology Master TIGUniversity Complutense of MadridMadridSpain
  4. 4.Faculty of Forest SciencesUniversidad Juárez del Estado de DurangoDurangoMexico
  5. 5.Forest Economy and Management Department, E.T.S.I. MontesMadrid Polytechnic UniversityMadridSpain

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