The Portuguese have achieved significant goals in reducing rural fires: in 2023, there were no fatalities, the number of fires fell by more than half and the area burned was a third of the average of the last ten years. In addition, the emission of 2.5 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere was avoided.

Portugal faces the paradox of fire: success in reducing fires results in more vegetation available to burn, increasing the need for vegetation management. If the managed area is not expanded, the country will be increasingly exposed to severe fires.

In the coming years, it is critical to ensure the political determination to stay the course and accelerate implementation. It is necessary to: 1) review tax and financial incentives to mobilize economic agents (landowners, companies, associations and municipalities) in order to increase vegetation management by tripling the current amount; 2) coordinate and monitor the National Action Programme and mobilize public entities to implement the 97 projects and 60% initiatives planned; and 3) secure multi-annual funding for sub-regional programmes, which have since been designed and approved by intermunicipal entities and CCDRs.


Main results 2023:

  • Zero fatalities (operational and population);
  • Total investment in 2023: 483 million euros (54% in prevention);
  • Number of rural fires in 2023: 7,523 (46% less than the average of the last 10 years);
  • Area burned in 2023: 34,509 hectares (66% less than the 2001-2017 average);
  • Fires caused by improper use of fire: 50%;
  • Fires caused by arson: 31%;
  • Northern region: 54% of occurrences between 2018-2023;
  • Progress of the National Action Program (NAP) 2020-2030: 87% of projects underway, 39% of initiatives completed.


The year 2022 was characterized by being a drought year, with 60 days in the three worst weather classes. This increase in weather severity occurred in the districts of Vila Real, Braga, Bragança, Coimbra, Leiria and Beja.

Portugal invested 529 million euros (M€) in the governance and management of rural fire risk, not counting the involvement of local government and landowners. This investment was 8% more than in 2021 and represents a distribution of 61% (324 M€) in prevention and 39% (205 M€) in suppression. It’s worth noting the evolution since 2017 when total expenditure stood at around 143 M€ with 20% allocated to prevention and 80% to suppression. By the end of 2022, 86% of the projects included in the NAP were underway (84 out of 97), one had been completed, six had started, and 12 projects remained to be started. The level of implementation of the projects stands at 38% and 35% of the targets set for 2022 have been achieved.

In the area of Qualification, the development of the higher-level micro-credentials provided for in the National Qualification Plan (PNQ) submitted to the government at the end of 2021 began in 2022. It is expected that in 2023, in addition to the professional-level training provided in accordance with the contents defined in this plan, the first modular training program with higher education credits – polytechnic and university – certified by the National Qualifications System will be set up.


The transformation that began in 2017 is still two-thirds of the way through, and it is necessary to:

  1. Strengthen fiscal, financial, property and regulatory incentives to mobilize companies and owners;
  2. Review work processes in the public administration with a view to improving the system’s performance;
  3. Ensure the quality of decision-making and management capacity that is essential for the efficient and effective use of the material and financial resources made available.

It is also important to overcome natural resistance to change, reflected in decision-making without analytical evidence, the existence of inadequate processes and carrying out activities without the necessary qualifications, which slow down the pace of implementation of the Integrated Rural Fire Management System.


Main results:

In 2022 there were 10,389 rural fires: 

  • 46% less than the average recorded in the decade prior to the PNGIFR (2010-2019); 
  • 33% less than the average recorded over the last ten years (2012-2021); 
  • 26% more than the previous year (2021).  

which resulted in 110,097 hectares (ha) of burnt area: : 

  • 20% less than the average recorded in the decade prior to the PNGIFR (2010-2019);
  • 13% less than the average recorded over the last ten years (2012-2021);
  • 287% more than the previous year (2021), with 81,682 ha more burned.



The Agency for the Integrated Management of Rural Fires (AGIF) delivered on June 9 in the Assembly of the Republic the “Activity Report of the Integrated Rural Fire Management System – 2021”.

This report results from the monitoring of projects in which dozens of entities participate, and the results now reported are a consequence of teamwork.

AGIF reports publicly in accordance with its strategic coordination duties of the Integrated Rural Fire Management System (SGIFR).

Portugal invested 316 million euros in rural fire risk management, not accounting for the involvement of local government and landowners. This investment was 9% more than in 2020 and represents a distribution of 46% in prevention and 54% in suppression.

By the end of 2021, 78 of the 97 projects of the National Action Program (PNA) had been developed, putting the level of ongoing projects at 80%, with 60 of the 128 targets planned for the year to be achieved in 2021.

Last year, vegetation management was carried out on around 88,000 hectares, 25% more than in 2020 and the highest figure to date. The target is 300,000 hectares/year to be reached by 2026. Since the vast majority of the areas to be managed are privately owned, it is essential to mobilize them.

The aggregation of owners through the Integrated Landscape Management Areas represented 2.5% of the forest spaces, while the Forest Intervention Zones and Baldios already represent 2.3 million hectares, located north of the Tagus and with an expression that represents almost 50% of the areas to be intervened.

It was elaborated and delivered the National Qualification Plan SGIFR with the definition of the parameters to perform functions in the System and in parallel, was completed the formation of priority profiles through the ANEPC / National School of Firefighters, GNR and IPMA, with more than 64 000 hours and 5 700 SGIFR agents trained. In addition to the joint training, the GNR trained 155 Forest Guards, the ICNF recruited and trained 40 elements for the Forest Fire Sappers Force and received from AGIF, about 36 senior technicians with specialized training in rural fire management, planning, project management and leadership.

There was a reduction in the number of fires by 15% compared to the previous year and a reduction in 38% of intentional fires. The use of fire continues to be the main cause of rural fires, accounting for 56% of the total, motivated by the elimination of agricultural surpluses and renewal of pastures. However, the causes associated with intentionality contributed to 41% of the burned area.

Citizens are aware of the management of vegetation around their homes, and the “Safe Village, Safe People” programme, after the limitations of the pandemic showed slight growth in 2021, with 2,064 villages covered – 76 (+4%) more than in 2020.

In 2021, the suppression device defined by ANEPC was reinforced with more firefighters and sappers, which represent an equal proportion, with about 12,000 elements, of which 69% are already professionals. In an already consolidated process, the 59 air assets were managed by the Air Force.

There was a decrease in the impacts of rural fires with fewer human lives to mourn (6), fewer fires (8,223) and less burned area (28,415 ha).

Exceeding the provisions of the National Action Program of the National Plan for Integrated Management of Rural Fires, 93% of the fires were extinguished in an initial attack and with an average time of arrival at the theatre of operations of 16 minutes. The rekindling rate saw its value set at 2%, a favourable value below the 5% target.


The year 2020 was lived in a pandemic context caused by SARS-COV2, which required the identification of measures to mitigate the possible impacts, which above all involved allocating resources to the situations most at risk. Despite this context, critical surveillance, patrol and suppression operations were not significantly affected. However, some projects requiring greater proximity did not progress at the desired or expected speed, such as the Aldeia Segura (Safe Village) and Pessoas Seguras (Safe People) programs and the development of pedagogical practices for risk.

Expenditure associated with the Integrated Rural Fire Management System in 2020 amounted to 288 M€ (+9% compared to 2019). As in 2019, there was a roughly equal split between prevention and firefighting.

In 2020 there was a 60% increase in the area burned compared to the previous year, driven by two large fires in Sobreira Formosa (Proença-a-Nova) and Oleiros, which accounted for 30% of the total area burned. On the other hand, the number of fires was 50% below the average for the period, with the downward trend continuing, especially on the days with the greatest danger of rural fire.

The first AIGP took place this year, as part of the PRGP for the Monchique and Silves Mountains, around the town of Monchique and Caldas de Monchique.

Structuring pieces of planning remained to be approved, such as the 20-30 National Action Program and the legal diploma that will establish the Integrated Rural Fire Management System.


Main results:

In 2020 there were 9,690 rural fires, 50% less than the average recorded over the last ten years (2010-2019), resulting in 67,153 hectares (ha) of burnt area:

  • 51% less than the average recorded in the decade prior to the PNGIFR (2010-2019);
  • 55% more than the average for the last 2 years (2018-2019);
  • 60% more than the previous year (2019).



For the first time, it was possible to obtain an integrated view of the rural fire risk management system, which reflects that Portugal invested 264 M€, 50% of which in prevention, reversing the logic of decades, with more than 80% of expenditure spent on firefighting, as in 2017. This effort, translated into training in resources, legislation and specific procedural improvements, has reduced the population’s vulnerability to the current context (territory, climate, economy and people) in the short term. The number of ignitions, the number of large fires, the area burned and the damage have all been reduced. However, in the coming years, it is critical to persevere, implement the new processes and accelerate the pace of transformation of the context (landscape and behaviours) by equipping entities with the human and management skills to carry out work on the ground, effectively and efficiently managing resources geared towards results.


Main results:

In 2019 there were 10,920 rural fires, resulting in 42,000 hectares of burnt area and three times less than the average of the previous ten years (2010-2019).