An overview of maritime pine private non-industrial forest in the centre of Portugal: A 19-year case study

Portuguese national policies for forests were developed considering related themes such as climate change, forest health, fire and the protective functions of forests. In Portugal, maritime pine forest is mainly private non-industrial and its area is in decline. Therefore, the aim of this study was two-fold: first, to assess maritime pine forest characteristics over a 19-year period; second, to analyse forest cover change over that period. In the end, the implementation of state policies was explored. A study area highly forested by continuous areas of naturally regenerated maritime pine in the centre of Portugal was used. To assess maritime pine forest characteristics, two sets of inventory data collected in previous studies (1991–1996 and 2007–2010) were used. To analyse forest cover change, the official land cover maps for 1990 and 2007 were used. This study findings highlighted that study area’s trends over the past years were the following: first, the decrease of maritime pine forest areas and its management decline (stands less stable, under-stocked, with large amounts of small-diameter poles and enlarged tree size variability); second, the increase of scrubland areas; third, the increase of eucalyptus afforestation with no regard for protection areas; and fourth, the absence of native oaks or introduction of other broadleaves as recommended by the state policies. Therefore, it is argued that there is a need for effective field monitoring actions with regard to the implementation of state policies. Additionally, selective incentives are key to mobilise private non-industrial forest to achieve the goals of state forest policies.
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