Home Góis, Portugal Scientific publications

Scientific publications Print

These publications by DESIRE partners relate to the research work undertaken in the Góis study site.

List correct as of 11 April 2013



Impacts of prescribed fire on soil loss and soil quality: An assessment based on an experimentally-burned catchment in central Portugal

Richard A. Shakesby, Célia P.M. Bento, Carla S.S. Ferreira, António J.D. Ferreira, Cathelijne R. Stoof, Emilia Urbanek, Rory P.D. Walsh

InCatena (2013)

Prescribed (controlled) fire has recently been adopted as an important wildfire-fighting strategy in the Mediterranean. Relatively little research, however, has assessed its impacts on soil erosion and soil quality. This paper investigates hillslope-scale losses of soil, organic matter and selected nutrients before and after a ‘worst-case scenario’ prescribed fire in a steep, shrub-vegetated catchment with thin stony soil in central Portugal. Comparison is made with soil erosion measured: (1) on a nearby hillslope burned by wildfire and monitored at the hillslope scale; and (2) on long-unburned terrain at small-plot, hillslope- and catchmentscales. Hillslope-scale pre- and post-fire soil erosion was recorded over periods of 6 weeks to 5 months for (1) 9.5 months pre-fire and 27 months post-fire in the prescribed fire catchment, and (2) c. 3 years post-fire at thewildfire site. Organic matter content, pH, total N, K2O, P2O5, Ca2+ andMg2+ were measured in the eroded sediment and in pre- and post-prescribed fire surface soil. Results indicate that: (1) both the prescribed fire and the wildfire caused expected marked increases in erosion compared with unburned terrain; and (2) the hillslope-scale post-prescribed fire soil losses (up to 2.41 t ha-¹ yr-¹) exceeded many reported plot-scale post-prescribed fire and post-wildfire erosion rates in the Mediterranean. As a comparison, post-fire erosion for both fire types was less than that caused by some other forms of common soil disturbance (e.g. types of tillage) and even that on undisturbed shrubland in low rainfall areas of the region. Total estimated postprescribed fire particulate losses of organic matter and nutrients represent only 0.2–2.9% of the content in the upper 2 cm of soil, suggesting only a modest fire effect on soil quality, although this may reflect in part a lack of extreme rainfall events following the fire. The longer-term implications for soil conservation of repeated prescribed fire in the Mediterranean are explored and future research priorities identified. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Post-wildfire soil erosion in the Mediterranean: Review and future research directions

R.A. Shakesby

In Earth-Sci. Rev. (2011)

Wildfires increased dramatically in frequency and extent in the European Mediterranean region from the 1960s, aided by a general warming and drying trend, but driven primarily by socio-economic changes, including rural depopulation, land abandonment and afforestation with flammable species. Published research into post-wildfire hydrology and soil erosion, beginning during the 1980s in Spain, has been followed by studies in other European Mediterranean countries together with Israel and has now attained a sufficiently large critical mass to warrant a major review. Although variations in climate, vegetation, soil, topography and fire severity cause differences in Mediterranean post-wildfire erosion, the long history of human landscape impact up to the present day is responsible for some its distinctive characteristics. This paper highlights these characteristics in reviewing wildfire impacts on hydrology, soil properties and soil erosion by water. The ‘mosaic’ nature of many Mediterranean landscapes (e.g. an intricate land-use pattern, abandoned terraces and tracks interrupting slopes) may explain sometimes conflicting post-fire hydrological and erosional responses at different sites and spatial scales. First-year post-wildfire soil losses at point- (average, 45–56 t ha-¹) and plot-scales (many <1 t ha-¹ and the majority <10 t ha-¹ in the first year) are similar to or even lower than those reported for fire-affected land elsewhere or other disturbed (e.g. cultivated) and natural poorly-vegetated (e.g. badlands, rangeland) land in the Mediterranean. The few published losses at larger-scales (hillslope and catchment) are variable. Thin soil and high stone content can explain supply-limited erosion preceding significant protection by recovering vegetation. Peak erosion can sometimes be delayed for years, largely through slow vegetation recovery and temporal variability of erosive storms. Preferential removal of organic matter and nutrients in the commonly thin, degraded soils is arguably just as if not more important than the total soil loss. Aspect is important, with more erosion reported for south- than north-facing slopes, which is attributed to greater fire frequency, slower vegetation recovery on the former and with soil characteristics more prone to erosion (e.g. lower aggregate stability). Post-fire wind erosion is a potentially important but largely neglected process. Gauging the degradational significance of wildfires has relied on comparison with unburnt land, but the focus for comparison should be switched to other agents of soil disturbance and/or currently poorly understood soil renewal rates. Human impact on land use and vegetation may alter expected effects (increased fire activity and post-wildfire erosion) arising from future climatic change. Different future wildfire mitigation responses and likely erosional consequences are outlined. Research gaps are identified, and more research effort is suggested to: (1) improve assessment of post-wildfire erosion impact on soil fertility, through further quantification of soil nutrient depletion resulting from single and multiple fire cycles, and on soil longevity; (2) investigate prescribed fire impacts on carbon release, air pollution and nutrient losses as well as on soil loss; (3) isolate hillslope- and catchment-scale impacts of soil water repellency under Mediterranean post-wildfire conditions; (4) test and refine application of cosmogenic radionuclides to post-wildfire hillslope-scale soil redistribution at different temporal scales; (5) use better temporal resolution of sedimentary sequences to understand palaeofire-erosion–sedimentation links; (6) quantify post-wildfire wind erosion; (7) improve the integration of wildfire into an overall assessment of the processes and impacts of land degradation in the Mediterranean; and (8) raise public awareness of wildfire impact on soil degradation. © 2011 Published by Elsevier B.V..


Soil and water degradation processes in burned areas: lessons learned from a nested approach


In »CATENA (2008) 74,3, 273-285. 

Forest fires produce a major impact on soil, water and vegetation. Despite the amount of research published on this subject, there are two major problems that hamper the fully understanding of on and off-site impacts of forest fires. They include methodological problems steaming from the uniqueness of burned soil properties, easily erodible, by the fast degradation they undergo over a short period of time immediately after fire and by the meaning of the impacts at different scales.

Monitoring attempts to understand processes in burned areas are hindered by limitations of measuring techniques, that prevent the correct quantification of erosion yields and the processes that give rise to peak flows. A further limitation arises from the poor knowledge on how properties and processes at one scale influence degradation processes at larger scales, both on and off site.

This paper presents a reflection about the limitations of some of the methods and techniques more frequently used to assess erosion yields and hydrological responses following fires, and their significance at different scales of analysis.

It also shows the potential of nested approaches in the acquisition of an improved insight in to the problem and in the identification of the relevant processes at each scale and how they influence degradation processes at larger areas. It is shown that soil and land use patterns, play a crucial role in reducing or enhancing the hydrological and sediment yield and transport processes between scales.



The Portuguese experience in managing fire effects


In Cerdà A and Robichaud P (eds) 2009. »Fire Effects on soils and restoration strategies. Land Reconstruction and Management (5) pp 401-424


  • Stoof, C.R., De Kort, A., Bishop, T.F.A., Moore, D., Wesseling, J.G., Ritsema, C.J. (2010). How rock fragments and soil moisture affect soil temperatures during fire. Soil Science Society of America Journal (accepted).
  • Stoof, C.R., Wesseling, J.G., Ritsema, C.J. (2010). Effects of fire and ash on soil water retention. Geoderma 159 (3-4), p. 276-285.
  • Moore, D., Kostka, S.J., Boerth, T.J., Franklin, M., Ritsema, C.J., Dekker, L.W., Oostindie, K., Stoof, C.R., Wesseling, J. (2010), The effect of soil surfactants on soil hydrological behavior, the plant growth environment, irrigation efficiency and water conservation. J Hydrol. Hydromech 58 (3), p 142-148.
  • Stoof, C.R.; Moore, D.; Ritsema, C.J.; Dekker, L.W. (2011) Natural and fire-induced soil water repellency in a Portugese Shrubland, Soil Science Society of America Journal 75 (6). - p. 2283 - 2295.

  • Esteves, T.C.J; Kirkby, M.J.; Shakesby, R.A.; Ferreira, A.J.D.; Soares, J.A.A.; Irvine B.J.; Ferreira, C.S.S.; Coelho, C.O.A., Carreiras, M.A. (2011) Mitigating land degradation caused by wildfire: application of the PESERA model to fire-affected sites in central Portugal. Geoderma Special Issue FESP, 2011. In press.
  • Ferreira, A.J.D.; Prats, S.; Ferreira, C.S.S.; Malvar, M.; Coelho, C.O.A.; Carreiras, M.; Esteves, T.(2009) Los incêndios florestales en Portugal. Aportes para la comprensión del impacto em la degradación de suelos y aguas. In Cátedra Divulgación de la Ciência, Universitat de Valencia: Efectos sobre los incêndios florestales sobre los suelos en España. 2009. ISBN 987-84-370-7653-9


In preparation

  • Ferreira AJD, Prata-Alegre S, Coelho COA, Ferreira CSS, Bento C, Shakesby RA, Stoof C, Ritsema CJ (in prep) Overview of SWC techniques to mitigate soil degradation following wildfires. Catena, DESIRE special issue
  • Ferreira AJD, Gonzales-Pelayo O, Rubio JL, Coelho COA, Ferreira CSS, Esteves T, Carreira M, Bento C, Valente S, Palheiro P, Ritsema CJ (in prep) Comparative analysis of policies to deal with wildfire risk Land Degradation and Development, DESIRE special
  • N. Jones, J. de Graaff, F. Duarte, I. Rodrigo, A. Poortinga (in prep) Farming systems in two less favoured areas in Portugal:  their development over the last two decades and their contribution to sustainable land management Land Degradation and Development, DESIRE special issue



  • FERREIRA AJD, COELHO COA, SHAKESBY RA, BOULET AK, ALEGRE SP, STOOF C E KEIZER JJ (2008) Connectivity and thresholds in water and sediment transport in burned areas, Portugal. Final Cost 634 Conference, Aveiro 30th June – 4th July 2008, p. 66.
  • FERREIRA AJD, BAPTISTA I, TAVARES J, CARREIRAS M, COELHO COA, REIS A, SPENCER J, MENDES JC, GOMES I e RITSEMA CJ (2008) Definição de estratégias de combate à degradação dos solos e à desertificação em Portugal e em Cabo Verde no âmbito do projecto DESIRE. Workshop Internacional sobre Clima e Recursos Naturais nos países de língua portuguesa: Parcerias na Área do Clima e Ambiente. Cabo Verde, Ilha do Sal, 02 a 07 de Março de 2008.
  • FERREIRA AJD (2007) Spatial and temporal patterns of solute loss following wildfires in central Portugal. Workshop Estratégias e respostas para minimizar o efeito do impacte dos fogos florestais na quantidade e na qualidade da água. LNEC, 12 de Dezembro de 2007.
  • PRATS SA, AMARAL LP, COELHO COA, FERREIRA AJD, PINHEIRO A, BARRAGÁN F e BOULET AK (2008). Mitigation techniques and strategies to reduce soil and water degradation immediately after forest fires. Final Cost 634 Conference, Aveiro 30th June – 4th July 2008, p106.
  • PRATS SA, PINHEIRO A, AMARAL L, BOULET AK, COELHO COA, FERREIRA AJD (2008) Comparison of different techniques of soil and water conservation after the fires based on a literature review. Final Cost 634 Conference, Aveiro 30th June – 4th July 2008, p116.
  • STOOF CR, FERREIRA AJD, FERREIRA C E SHAKESBY RA (2008) Explaining post-fire hydrology and erosion: the value of a nested-scale approach in quantifying the effect of controlled fire. Final Cost 634 Conference, Aveiro 30th June – 4th July 2008, p. 110
  • FERREIRA AJD (2009) El impacto de los incendios forestales sobre los procesos de degradación del suelo y agua. Implicaciones para mejorar la gestión del paisaje. Foro Luis Vives, Valência, 2 de Abril de 2009.
  • FERREIRA CSS, SHAKESBY RA, WALSH RPD, FERREIRA AJD, GONZÁLEZ-PELAYO O, URBANEK E, RUBIO JL (2009) Fire impact on soil hydrological properties and soil erosion: the effects of geology, fire type and severity. International Conference on Ecohydrology and Climat Change, Tomar (Portugal), 10-12 Setembro.
  • FERREIRA CSS; SHAKESBY RA; WALSH RPD; FERREIRA AJD; URBANEK E (2009) Assessment of soil erosion after wildfire at hillslope and small-plot scales, central Portugal. 2nd International Seminar on Small Catchments, Palma de Maiorca (Espanha), 6 - 8 Maio.
  • FERREIRA CSS; SHAKESBY RA; WALSH RPD; FERREIRA AJD; URBANEK E (2009) Impacte dos incêndios na erosão e perda de nutrientes dos solos: Caso de estudo de Camelo. Encontro Anual da Sociedade Portuguesa da Ciência do Solo, Faro (Portugal), 8-10 Julho.
  • GONZÁLEZ-PELAYO O; FERREIRA CSS; FERREIRA AJD; ANDREU V; RUBIO JL (2009) Impacte do fogo controlado nas propriedades hidrológicas dos solos calcáricos– Estudo experimental de Podentes Encontro Anual da Sociedade Portuguesa da Ciência do Solo, Faro (Portugal), 8-10 Julho
  • SHAKESBY RA, FERREIRA CSS, WALSH RPD, FERREIRA AJD, STOOF C, URBANEK E (2009) Prescribed fire impacts on soil erosion, central Portugal. International Geomorphology Conference, Melburn (Australia), 6-11 Julho.
  • SHAKESBY RA, FERREIRA AJD, FERREIRA CSS, STOOF CR , URBANEK E, AND  WALSH RPD (2009). Significant or negligible sediment and nutrient losses after fire? Pre- and post-fire comparisons. European Geosciences Union, General Assembly, Viena (Austria), 19 - 24 Abril.
  • Stoof, C.R. (2009). Fires, and their effects on soils and hydrology. Fire in Human Evolution, Human History, and Human Society. KNAW Academy Colloquium, Amsterdam (The Netherlands). 15-17 December 2009.

  • Stoof, C.R., Slingerland, E.C., Mol, W., Van den Berg, J., De Kort, A., Drooger, S., Wesseling, J.G., Ferreira, A.J.D., Ritsema, C.J. (2009). Wildfires vs. prescribed fires in north-central Portugal: impact on soil properties. 7th International Conference on Geomorphology, Melbourne (Australia), 6-11 July 2009.

  • Shakesby, R.A., Ferreira, C.S.S., Urbanek, E., Ferreira, A.J.D., Stoof, C.R., Walsh, R.P.D. (2009). Plot- to catchment-scale impacts of prescribed fire on soil erosion, central Portugal. 7th International Conference on Geomorphology, Melbourne (Australia), 6-11 July 2009.

  • WALSH RPD, FERREIRA CSS, LEIGHTON-BOYCE G, URBANEK E, SHAKESBY RA, FERREIRA AJD, STOOF C & DOERR S (2009) Hydrophobicity, overland flow and erosion: Influences of local spatial variability, vertical route ways and switching dynamics. European Geosciences Union, General Assembly, Viena (AUSTRIA), 19 – 24 April.
  • Shakesby, R.A., Ferreira, C.S.S., Walsh, R.P.D., Ferreira, A.J.D., Urbanek, E., Stoof, C.R., (2010). Is timing of prescribed fire critical for limiting post-fire erosion? Lessons from Portugal. EGU General Assembly, Vienna (Austria), 2-7 May 2010.

  • WALSH RPD, FERREIRA CSS, URBANEK E, SHAKESBY RA, DOERR SH, FERREIRA AJD, LEIGHTON-BOYCE G, STOOF CR (2009) Timescales and three-dimensional nature of switching between hydrophobic and hydrophilic states in stony Portuguese soils. International Geomorphology Conference, Melburn (Australia), 6-11 Julho.
  • Stoof, C.R. (2010). Fire effects on soils and hydrology in a small Portuguese mountain catchment. Nederlands Aardkundig Congres (NAC) 10, Veldhoven, The Netherlands. 22-23 April 2010.

  • Moore, D., Kostka, S., Boerth, T., McMillan, M., Ritsema, C., Dekker, L., Oostindie, K., Stoof, C., Wesseling, J. (2010) Impact of Soil Water Repellency on Hydrological Properties of Soil, the Plant Growing Environment, Irrigation Efficiency and Water Consumption. EGU General Assembly, Vienna (Austria), 2-7 May 2010.

  • Shakesby, R.A., Stoof, C.R., Ferreira, C.S.S., Walsh, R.P.D., Urbanek, E., A.J.D. Ferreira (2010). Monitoring post-fire erosion from plot- to catchment scale using a nested scale approach. EGU General Assembly, Vienna (Austria), 2-7 May 2010.

  • Esteves, T.C.J.; Ferreira, A.J.D.; Soares, J.A.A.; Kirkby, M.J.; Shakesby, R.A.; Irvine B.J. Ferreira, C.S.S.; Coelho, C.O.A., Carreiras, M.A. (2010) Using PESERA to manage desertification processes following wildfires in Góis and Mação, Portugal. International Conference on Combating Land Degradation in Agricultural Areas (LANDCON 2010) 11 a 15 October 2010, Xi’an, China

  • Shakesby, R.A., Ferreira, C.S.S., Walsh, R.P.D., Urbanek, E., Ferreira, A.J.D., Stoof, C.R. (2010). Soil degradational effects of prescribed fire, central Portugal. International Conference on Combating Land Degradation in Agricultural Areas (LANDCON 1010). Xi’an (Shaanxi), China, 11-15 Oct 2010.

  • Stoof, C.R. (2010). Earth, Water and Fire. Seminar of the Soil and Water Lab, Cornell University, Ithaca (NY), USA. 22 Oct 2010.

  • Stoof, C.R. (2010). Forest fires and their effects. Seminar ‘Sao Martinho das Mulheres’, Woman International Group Coimbra, Portugal. 21 Nov 2010.

  • Shakesby, R., Ferreira, C., Walsh, R., Urbanek, E., Ferreira, A., Stoof, C. (2010). Temporal changes in sediment, organic matter and nutrient losses following an experimental fire in Atlantic-Mediterranean heath, central Portugal, In D. X. Viegas, (ed.) VI International Conference on Forest Fire Research, Coimbra, Portugal, 15-18 Nov 2010.

  • Valente, S.; Coelho, C.; Moreira, J.; Ferreira, A.; Carreiras, M.; Soares, J.; Carvalho, T. (2011) Methodology for participatory SLM appraisal and selection – the Portuguese experience. International Conference on Combating Land Degradation in Agricultural Areas (LANDCON 2010) 11 a 15 October 2010, Xi’an, China

  • Stoof, C.R.; Fernandes, R.E.S.; Stoorvogel, J.; Esteves, T.; Ferreira, C.S.S.; Ferreira, A.J.D.; Ritsema, C.J. (2010) What you see is not always what you get – above and belowground heating and impact of a catchment-scale experimental fire. In VI International Conference on Forest Fire Research. 2010. Coimbra: 15 a 18 Novembro (Oral Comunication)

  • Esteves T, Ferreira, A, Soares J, Kirkby M, Shakesby R, Irvine B, Ferreira CS, Coelho C, Carreiras M (2011) Using PESERA to manage desertification processes following wildfires in Góis and Mação, Portugal. FESP III, International Meeting of Fire Effects on Soil Properties, 15-19 March 2011, Guimarães. Portugal.
  • Esteves, T.; Soares, J.; Ferreira, A.D.; Carreiras, M.; Valente, S.; Coelho, C. (2011) WOCAT Mapping: Uma abordagem SIG para o município de Góis

    II Encontro de Sistemas de Informação Geográfica - Aplicações SIG em Recursos Agro-Florestais e Ambientais 19 - 20 May 2011, Castelo Branco, Portugal

  • Ferreira, AJD, Shakesby, RA, Coelho, C, Ferreira, CS, Bento, C, Esteves, T, Carreiras, M (2011) The impact of fire on the spatial and temporal distribution of hydrologic and geomorphologic processes at slope and catchment scales. Geophysical Research Abstracts, 13, #13583. European Geosciences Union General Assembly 3-8 April 2011, Vienna, Austria
  • Ferreira, A.J.D., Ferreira, C.S.S., Coelho, C.O.A., Walsh, R.P.D., Shakesby, R.A. (2012)  Overland flow generation processes in sub-humid Mediterranean forest stands. Geophysical Research Abstracts 14, EGU2012-13524.
  • Esteves, T.C.J., Kirkby, M.J., Shakesby, R.A., Ferreira, A.J.D., Soares, J.A.A., Ferreira, C.S.S., Coelho, C.O.A., Bento, C.P.M. and Carreiras, M.A. (2012) PESERA model application in the Portuguese study areas: Góis and Mação. Geophysical Research Abstracts 14, EGU2012-13545.
  • Bento, C.P.M., Shakesby, R.A., Walsh, R.P.D., Ferreira, C.S.S., Ferreira, A.J.D. and Urbanek, E. (2012)  Testing the effectiveness of pine needlecast in reducing post-fire soil erosion using complementary experimental approaches. Geophysical Research Abstracts 14, EGU2012-12510.
  • Ferreira, A.J.D., Prats-Alegre, S., Coelho, C.O.A., Ferreira, C.S.S.,Bento, C., Shakesby, R.A., Stoof, C.R. and Ritsema, C.J. (2012) Overview of SWC techniques to mitigate soil degradation following wildfires. Geophysical Research Abstracts 14, EGU2012-13418.


Newspaper articles

  • Stoof, C. (2009). ‘Experimental fire provides knowledge over damage after forest fires.’ www.sciencedaily.com, 26 Feb 2009.



  • Stoof, C. 2011. Fire effects on soil and hydrology, 182 p., ISBN 978-90-8585-915-4. PhD Thesis Wageningen University





fp6 logo 3 50 x 43
The DESIRE project was 
co-funded by the
European Commission,
Global Change and
Contract no: 037046 GOCE

DESIRE brought together the expertise of
26 international research institutes
and non-governmental organisations.

This website does not necessarily
represent the opinion of the
European Commission. The European
Commission is not responsible for
any use that might be made of the
information contained herein.

Citing website content

For the terms under which the content 
of this website may be used see 
»Disclaimer, copyright and privacy

When referenceing page contents
please cite as Brandt, C. J. (ed). 
2012. "page title". DESIRE Project 
Harmonised Information System.
DESIRE Consortium.  

If citing a deliverable use the authors'
names, date and title as given on the 
cover page and add "available at 

Follow us