The most common cause of the 3969 rural wildfires was bonfires, making up 60% of the instances.

According to the ICNF’s first report of the year, the fires ended up burning 3589 ha between settlements (1055 ha), woods (2360 ha) and farmland (173 ha).

“Comparing 2022 figures with records from the past 10 years, there’s been a 15% decrease in rural wildfire instances and a reduction of 40% in the total burnt area relative to the yearly average over the decade,” the document announced.

2023, up until the 30th of June, has been the year with the 5th fewest number of wildfires while having the 6th highest burnt land area since 2013.

In the first semester, fires with a burnt area of under an acre were the most frequent, making up 80% of the total.

As to the larger wildfires (considered to have burned an area of 40 ha or more), the ICNF notes the occurrence of 11 fires which each burnt an area between 40 and 404 ha, representing 22% of the total scorched earth.

The largest number of incidents were recorded in the districts of Porto (280), Braga (181) and Viana do Castelo (158).

The most affected district when it comes to burnt land was Braga, with 964 ha, or about 27% of the total land burnt down. After that comes Vila Real with 713 ha\ (20% total land area) and Viana do Castelo with 579 ha (16% of total).

“The municipalities that presented the highest number of fires are all located North of the Tagus and are characterised by a high population density, the presence of large urban areas, and the traditional use of fire in forest management,” the report explains.

From a total of 2969 rural wildfires reported this year so far, 3069 were investigated and their cause deliberation process already concluded (77% of the total number of fires, responsible for 94% of the total burnt area).

Out of these, the investigation allowed the declaration of a cause for 2303 fires (75% of fires investigated, responsible for 84% of the total burnt area).

Until June 30th, the most frequent causes of fires in 2023 have been bonfires to dispose of forest and agriculture leftovers (23%) and animal herding land management (19%).

Combined, the different types of bonfires and burnings represent 60% of proven causes for the fires.

According to the ICNF, reignitions represented 3% of the proven causes, a lower percentage than the average of the previous 10 years.