B.C.’s wildfire crisis was forecast, but it arrived decades sooner than expected

By Brenna Owen
Canadian Press in the Vancouver Sun
September 10, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

The onset of large, severe wildfires that threaten communities year after year has occurred earlier in B.C. than previous research projected, and experts say the record-shattering 2023 season must serve as a springboard for action. The surge stems from a combination of climate change and entrenched forest management practices, which have together created a landscape more conducive to large, high-intensity blazes, says Lori Daniels, a professor in the department of forest and conservation sciences at the University of B.C. “Society is already paying a huge cost for these climate change-fuelled fires,” she says. “The thing we can control in the short term is the vulnerability of the landscape.” Reducing that vulnerability means transforming how B.C.’s diverse landscape is managed. Shifting away from a timber-focused approach that prioritizes conifers over less-flammable broadleaf trees and ramping up prescribed burning are key steps toward protecting communities by supporting healthy, resilient forests, Daniels says.

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