How the past haunts our future: Colonization and the loss of dry forest resilience in the southern Rocky Mountain Trench of British Columbia

2023 Webinar #1

Original Air Date:
Thursday, Jan 26, 2023

Catastrophic wildfires and “smoke seasons” are becoming common features of life in western North America. In dry forests, increases in fire severity are often attributed to uncharacteristically high forest fuel accumulations, compounded by changing climate. However, some research contests this notion, suggesting that high fuel loads and high severity fires have always been features of dry forests. Unfortunately, historical dry forest structures, and the specific factors that changed them, have never been reconstructed in British Columbia. These knowledge gaps hinder our ability to determine both the magnitude and implications of forest change. In this talk, Greg uses tree-ring evidence to reconstruct historical fire regimes and structures of dry forests in the southern Rocky Mountain Trench of British Columbia. He describes how these forests interacted with fires historically, how colonization altered forests and fire regimes, and what the implications of these changes are for forest resilience. Greg also provides specific actions to proactively augment resilience to offset the effects of the past.