Vegetation recovery after the large wildfires that occurred in central Portugal in 2017 is assessed in the present study. These wildfires had catastrophic consequences, among which were human losses and a vast extent of forest devastation. Landsat 8 OLI images were used to obtain the land use and cover (LUC) classification and to determine the Normalized Burned Ratio index (NBR) for different times. NBR results were used to determine the difference between the NBR (dNBR) before the fire (pre-fire) and after the fire (post-fire), and the results obtained were cross-checked with the LUC. The dNBR results were cross-referenced with biophysical data to identify the characteristics of the most important burned areas in need of vegetative recovery. The results showed the spatial differentiation in vegetation recovery, highlighting different factors in this process, in particular the type of vegetation (the predominant species and bank of seeds available), the biophysical characteristics of burned areas (for example, the soil type in burned areas), the continentality gradient, and the climate conditions. The vegetation recovery was differentiated by time according to the species present in the burned areas pre-fire. In general, shrubland recovery was faster than that of tree species, and the recovery was more marked for species that were regenerated by the rhizomes after fire. The recovery process was also influenced by the season in the study area. It was more efficient in the spring and at the beginning of the summer, highlighting the importance of optimal conditions needed for vegetation regeneration, such as the temperature and precipitation (soil humidity and water availability for growing plants). The results of this research are important to forest planning: the definition of the strategies for the ecosystems’ recovery, the adoption of preventive measures to avoid the occurrence of large wildfires, the modification of anthropogenic practices, etc.
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