Synergies Between Goat Grazing and Shrub Biomass in Mountain Areas

  • Duarte Marques
  • Marco Fachada
  • Hélder Viana


North and Center of inland Portugal are characterized by mountain areas with low productivity, and susceptible to desertification. The human settlements have low densities and the people are aged leading to agriculture abandonment contributing to the increase of wildfires. The rural population with low resources finds in the extensive livestock production a source of income making possible the survival in those inhospitable areas. The use of traditional agro-silvopastoral practices is essential for rural development, as it includes a set of ecosystem services contributing to the soil and water conservation and biodiversity maintenance. The goat grazing, in particular, is essential for the prevention of wildfires as they feed mainly in the shrubland areas, reducing the biomass load and, consequently, the fuel available for forest fires. The synergies created by goat production result, thus, in a direct economic benefit from cattle production and indirect ecological aspects, by reducing the probability of potential fires. An experimental study using targeted grazing, in the mountain municipality of Vila Pouca de Aguiar, North of Portugal, was carried out between 2012 and 2014 to analyze the feasibility of implementing this technique in order to manage the territory, leading to the minimization of occurrence and severity of fires. Nevertheless, this study needs an additional temporal period for a conclusive analysis, although evidence suggests that this method can play an important role in fire prevention.



This work was supported by European Investment Funds by FEDER/COMPETE/POCI-Operational Competitiveness and Internationalization Programme, under Project POCI-01-0145-FEDER-006958 and National Funds by FCT—Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, under the project UID/AGR/04033/2013.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aguiarfloresta—Associação Florestal e Ambiental de Vila Pouca de AguiarVila Pouca de AguiarPortugal
  2. 2.ADRAT—Associação de Desenvolvimento da Região do Alto Tâmega, Avenida da CooperaçãoOuteiro Seco, ChavesPortugal
  3. 3.CI&DETS Research Centre/DEAS-ESAV, Polytechnic Institute of Viseu, Av. Cor. José Maria Vale de Andrade s/nViseuPortugal
  4. 4.Centre for the Research and Technology of Agro-Environmental and Biological Sciences, CITAB, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, UTADVila RealPortugal

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