The role of forest fire severity on vegetation recovery after 18 years. Implications for forest management of Quercus suber L. in Iberian Peninsula

Francos, Marcos; Úbeda, Xavier; Tort, Joan; Panareda, Josep María; Cerda Bolinches, Artemio


Wildfires are a widespread phenomenon in Mediterranean environments. Wildfires result in different fire severities, and then in contrasting plant cover and floristic composition. This paper analyses the recovery of the vegetation eighteen years after a wildfire in Catalonia. The Pinus pinaster ssp. forest was affected by three different severities in July 1994, and studied the spring of 1995 and again in 2008. After eighteen years (2012), our research found that burnt sites constitute a dense forest with a broad variety of species, including many young pines, shrubs and herbaceous plants, but that the risk of fire remains very high, due to the large quantity of fuel and the flammability of the species. The management of the post-fire is critical when high severity fires take places, and it is recommended that high-severity fires must be avoided for a sustainable forest management. We recommend that once the timber (Pinus plantations) production is not profitable, Quercus suber L. and Pinus pinaster ssp. forest should be promoted, and pine plantations avoided.