Projecting future impacts of global change including fires on soil erosion to anticipate better land management in the forests of NW Portugal

Amandine Valérie Pastor*, Joao Pedro Nunes, Rossano Ciampalini, Myke Koopmans, Jantiene Baartman, Frédéric Huard, Tomas Calheiros, Yves Le-Bissonnais, Jan Jacob Keizer, Damien Raclot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Wildfire is known to create the pre-conditions leading to accelerated soil erosion. Unfortunately, its occurrence is expected to increase with climate change. The objective of this study was to assess the impacts of fire on runoffand soil erosion in a context of global change, and to evaluate the effectiveness of mulching as a post-fire erosion mitigation measure. For this, the long-term soil erosion model LandSoil was calibrated for a Mediterranean catchment in north-central Portugal that burnt in 2011. LandSoil was then applied for a 20-year period to quantify the separate and combined hydrological and erosion impacts of fire frequency and of post-fire mulching using four plausible site-specific land use and management scenarios (S1. business-as-usual, S2. market-oriented, S3. environmental protection and S4. sustainable trade-off) and an intermediate climate change scenario Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 by 2050. The obtained results showed that: (i) fire had a reduced impact on runoffgeneration in the studied catchment (<5%) but a marked impact on sediment yield (SY) by about 30%; (ii) eucalypt intensification combined with climate change and fires can increase SY by threefold and (iii) post-fire mulching, combined with riparian vegetation maintenance/restoration and reduced tillage at the landscape level, was highly effective to mitigate soil erosion under global change and associated, increased fire frequency (up to 50% reduction). This study shows how field monitoring data can be combined with numerical erosion modeling to segregate the prominent processes occurring in post forest fire conditions and find the best management pathways to meet international goals on achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN).

Original languageEnglish
Article number2617
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Erosion control techniques
  • Fire frequency
  • Global change
  • Mulching
  • Runoff
  • Sediment yield

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