Unvegetated strips to reduce fire expansion [Italy]


technologies_1606 - Italy

Completeness: 69%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:

Quaranta Giovanni

University of Basilicata


Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Catastrophic shifts in drylands (EU-CASCADE)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
University of Basilicata - Italy

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Firebreaks are stripes cleared of vegetation that divide a continuous forest in smaller patches to reduce spreading of wildfires and allow intervention.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


The technology consists of creating gaps of vegetation of about 5 to 7 meters, every 50 to 75 meters distance contourline large forested areas. These clear strips are connected to main roads having varying length in relation to the size of the area.

Purpose of the Technology: Fire breaks act as a barrier to stop or slow the progress of fires and allow firefighters to better position themselves to operate.

Establishment / maintenance activities and inputs: Clearing activities which must be carried out annually by specialized workers using minor devices (hand and hedge cutter).

Natural / human environment: This technology is applied mostly in publicly owned woods (or very large private woods). The network of these fire strips is rather dense as the number of flammable species increases. So it creates patches of 2500 to 5000 meters according to the type of species. The context of production is characterised by a medium level of mechanisation (only the most demanding operations are carried out using mechanical means), the production system is essentially mixed, a small part is destined for personal consumption whilst the bulk of production is destined for local markets. The property is predominantly privately owned but also includes some public land, especially in the case of pasture land. Most farms in the area are livestock farms whilst the agricultural component is destined exclusively for private consumption.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:


Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • 0.1-1 km2

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • more than 50 years ago (traditional)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • during experiments/ research
Comments (type of project, etc.):

The technique has been slowly experimented with over the years both in terms of size of firebreaks and distances between them.

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied

Forest/ woodlands

Forest/ woodlands

  • (Semi-)natural forests/ woodlands
(Semi-)natural forests/ woodlands: Specify management type:
  • Clear felling
Products and services:
  • Fuelwood
  • Grazing/ browsing
  • Recreation/ tourism

Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): In some wooded areas, especially nearest the roads, there is an excessive amount of undergrowth (with some shrubs reaching a height in excess of two metres) which leaves the area vulnerable to the start and spread of forest fires.
Major land use problems (land users’ perception): The increase in shrubs has increased fire risk.

Number of growing seasons per year: 1
Longest growing period in days: 120Longest growing period from month to month: March to august

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • cross-slope measure
  • Firebreak

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

management measures

management measures

  • M6: Waste management (recycling, re-use or reduce)

Main measures: management measures

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bf: detrimental effects of fires

Main type of degradation addressed: Bf: detrimental effects of fires

Secondary causes of degradation: other human induced causes (specify) (Often fires are started by actions of the local population), other natural causes (avalanches, volcanic eruptions, mud flows, highly susceptible natural resources, extreme topography, etc.) specify (spontaneous combustion, climate change (extreme hot pick),expansion of the forest in the region), depopulation and the abandonment of pastures

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation

Main goals: prevention of land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: moderate

Main technical functions: control of fires

Change of land use practices / intensity level

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

other/ national currency (specify):


If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Cutting vegetation with the help of device (hedge cutters, usually owned by the specialized workers who are doing the job, and their cost is included in the salary) The hectare is intended to mean the area of cleared vegetation which is usually 5-7metres wide. once per year

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Cutting vegetation with the help of device ha 1.0 1351.35 1351.35 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 1351.35
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 1826.15

Machinery/ tools: Hedge cutters

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Manual labour (including fuel for hedge cutter).

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

68% in winter and 15% in summer

Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

Thermal climate class: temperate

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil fertility is medium-low
Soil drainage/infiltration is good
Soil water storage capacity is medium

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

5-50 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

good drinking water

Comments and further specifications on water quality and quantity:

Availability of surface water is medium (minimum during month of September and October)

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • medium

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • commercial/ market
Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • average
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
  • men
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Land users applying the Technology are mainly common / average land users
Difference in the involvement of women and men: active farmers are present only males; women are not actively involved in land management
Population density: 10-50 persons/km2
Annual population growth: negative; 2%
90% of the land users are average wealthy.
10% of the land users are poor.
Off-farm income specification: Most of the off farm income derives from public sector, i.e. Municipality, Mountain Community, Region and other public bodies. Very few farmer members run local shops or handcraft.

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • small-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • communal/ village
  • individual, titled
Land use rights:
  • communal (organized)
  • individual

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


wood production


risk of production failure


Socio-cultural impacts

Improved livelihoods and human well-being


Ecological impacts

Climate and disaster risk reduction

fire risk

Other ecological impacts

Hazard towards adverse events


6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

damage on neighbours' fields


damage on public/ private infrastructure


6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase well

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm well
local windstorm well
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought well
Hydrological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
general (river) flood well

Other climate-related consequences

Other climate-related consequences
How does the Technology cope with it?
reduced growing period well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly positive

Long-term returns:

slightly negative

How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:


6.5 Adoption of the Technology

Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 0-10%

100% of land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support

There is a moderate trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
the technique is an important tool in preventing the spread of fires, however, when winds are strong they can make little difference

How can they be sustained / enhanced? some as before
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
1)The creation of firebreaks is a very useful method to reduce the spread of fires.

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Public funding is needed to ensure this method can continue.

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Apart from the annual cost of clearing vegetation, it reduces the number of trees per hectare of wooded areas

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

Links and modules

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