Rural Property in Portugal - Fire Protection Regulations

  • Rural property in Portugal is defined as habitations or other buildings set among natural pastures, natural forests or tree plantations.
  • Portuguese law requires ALL rural property owners, agents and managers to maintain combustible materials regularly to keep land fire safe.
  • Maintenance may include thinning, pruning and/or removal of trees, shrubs and ground cover, within “Fire Safety Zones” around buildings of all kinds, whether inhabited or not.
  • Tenants or other users of rural properties (e.g. workers or campers) are not legally responsible for this work, unless they agreed to do it in a contract with the owner/landlord. Occupants, users and neighbours should notify owners and/or the G.N.R. in writing if rural land is not correctly maintained.
  • NOTE: Penalties for non-compliance have been doubled. They now range from 280€ to 10,000€ for individuals and 1,600€ to 120,000€ for collective entities such as companies.
Property in Portugal Fire Protection Zone for rural areas

Fire Safety Rules for Individual Dwellings

  • Fire Safety Zones shown above are measured from the outside walls of any building – dwelling, workshop, garage, etc.
  • DO NOT keep firewood or other inflammable material within the Fire Safety Zone.
  • Individual shade or fruit trees must be 5 m away from a dwelling, with the exception of certain protected species (e.g. cork oak).
  • Native ground cover, such as cistus and heather, must not be taller than 50 cm.
  • Prune trees to reduce lower branches and tops, and allow a space of not less than 4 m between their crowns.
  • For eucalypts and maritime pines, the distance between crowns must be at least 10 m.

The above information is based on the Decree-Law No 14/2019, Series 1 of 2019-01-21, Articles 16 to 28. graphics provided the ICNF (Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas) and the IPMA weather website, part translation into English by Safe Communities Portugal.