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Forest Area Aggregation
Small-size private-owned forest areas are common in Portugal in particular North of the Tagus River. Small patches of forest hinder proper forest management, often leading to increased unmanaged areas more prone to wildfires, pests and diseases. The Baixo Vouga Forest owners association has developed a program of forest area aggregation to tackle this problem by grouping of contiguous areas with the overall aim of facilitating management operations. This will consequently reduce the occurrence of hazards, improve and increase well-managed areas, increase return and motivate investment. To implement the program, at least 5 forest owners with at least 5 properties, summing-up no less than 10 hectares are rquired. Then a GPS-based inventory is carried out and a forest management plan is developed. The program is based on quota-based investments and revenues that will be distributed among those involved with the aim of increasing the engagement, motivation and appreciation of all the agents involved. So far, several areas have been aggregated covering different number of forest owners (e.g. Panasqueira, Águeda, 15 properties belonging to 12 forest owners were aggregated resulting in c.a. 11 thousand ha of forest planted and managed under the same forest management plan) and there are other, more ambitious, still ongoing (e.g. in Lavandeira, Vagos, 211 properties belonging to 138 forest owners were aggregated resulting in c.a. 73 thousand ha).