Inaccurate data on forest fuels may stoke B.C. wildfires, study finds

Canadian Press in Alberni Valley News
March 3, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Wildfire fighting and forest management decisions are potentially being hampered by inaccurate government data that misrepresents forest fuel loads in British Columbia’s Interior, a new study has found. The B.C. government says the provincial wildfire service is working with the study’s lead author and others to close the data gap, which involves “mismatches” between remotely-sensed mapping, forest fuel classifications, and observations on the ground. …The researchers from the University of B.C. and Canadian Forest Service acknowledge that mapping forest fuels is “notoriously challenging” despite its importance in influencing and predicting wildfire behaviour. …Lead author Jen Baron says fixing the data will help officials identify and respond to fire-prone areas, though will likely require a “huge lift.” …The national and provincial forest inventory data are largely derived from aerial imaging, and Baron says it was “significantly underestimating” the density of underbrush that serves as a conduit for flames travelling up to the forest canopy.

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