Handbook of good practices in post-wildfire management

The second edition of this manual to mitigate or avoid the negative impact of salvage logging on Mediterranean forests has recently been released.

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Aleppo pine forest after whole tree harvesting in Òdena (Barcelona province, Spain). Photo: P. Pons i J.M. Bas.

How can post-fire salvage logging be more sustainable? In this second edition of their handbook, Eduard Mauri and Pere Pons present a comprehensive, up-to-date and science-based list of recommendations for forest managers aiming to reduce the negative impact of this practice in Mediterranean forests.

Trees burned by forest fires can be harvested by so-called salvage logging. In the vast majority of cases, in Europe and North America, logging is carried out a few months to a year after the fire and, on average, 90% of burned wood is cut. Previously, only the tree trunks were used for sawn timber, leaving the branches and small trees in the burned area.

However, since 2010, an increase in wood harvesting for energy purposes has been observed in Europe. With the current growth in the demand for biofuels, the whole tree is being used, exploiting virtually the entire aerial biomass of the burned tree. This massive extraction of biomass from a newly-disturbed ecosystem can create synergistic effects on the environment and its living organisms.

This Handbook of Good Practices in Post-wildfire Management is aimed at forest managers and workers, providing them with a guide on how to mitigate and avoid the negative impacts of salvage logging and enhance the resilience that is naturally present in forest ecosystems in the Mediterranean basin in the face of wildfires.

Burned and felled Aleppo pines waiting for whole tree harvesting in Òdena (Barcelona province, Spain). Photo: P. Pons.

The Handbook is divided in two main sections: first, an introduction to the fundamentals of post-fire forest management on which the recommendations are based, and then, the good practice recommendations for post-wildfire management. These recommendations are short descriptions of how forest works can be carried out to reduce their negative impact, at stand and plot level, covering immediate post-fire actions (emergency and stabilisation actions during the logging process within the first year after fire) and in the short term (rehabilitation 1 to 3 years after fire).

The good practice recommendations are divided in eight topics, according to the environmental elements involved:

  1. Post-wildfire management and planning at landscape level
  2. Plant cover regeneration
  3. Reduction of soil erosion
  4. Preservation of soil fertility
  5. Conservation of invertebrate fauna
  6. Conservation of vertebrate fauna
  7. Reduction of subsequent fire risk
  8. Preservation of the quality of river and riverbank habitats

The Handbook is completed by a decision-making tool to select the most appropriate good practice recommendations according to four main management objectives: forestry production (for wood and non-wood products), biodiversity conservation, creation of open habitats and reduction of subsequent fire risk.

The main source of information in the compilation of this Handbook has been 172 bibliographic references, mainly scientific articles, monographs and studies conducted in the Mediterranean basin, updated to end 2018.

This second edition of the Handbook of Good Practices in Post-wildfire Management is available for free (PDF format) in English, Spanish and Catalan.

This book has been published under the project Anifog, grant number CGL2014-54094-R, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

Book reference

Mauri, E. & Pons, P. 2019. Handbook of Good Practices in Post-wildfire Management. 2nd ed., Anifog Project I+D+i CGL2014-54094-R, Universitat de Girona.