Re-introducing fire as a process: Restoring disrupted fire regimes across landscapes

2023 Webinar #3

Original Air Date:
Thursday, Feb 16, 2023


Jen Baron, PhD Candidate in Dept. of Forest & Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia

Western North American forests are experiencing the consequence of a longstanding fire deficit, manifesting as uncharacteristically large and severe wildfires driven by substantive changes to wildfire and climate regimes. More than a century of resource extraction, land-use change, and fire exclusion have altered the structure, composition, and spatial patterns of forest and non-forest patchworks, fundamentally altering the wildfire environment. Formerly fire-frequent dry conifer forests in interior British Columbia exhibit large fuel accumulations, fuel ladders, and widespread contagion of these conditions. Likewise, many cold forests lack a once extensive broadleaf component. Collectively, these departures present high wildfire risk to communities and create a challenging and time-sensitive management context. Through science-based management interventions, we can facilitate re-entry of fire to the ecosystem and maintain its stabilizing feedbacks to the broader landscape. Managing fuels, protecting people and infrastructure, and restoring ecosystems will require broadly applied thinning and fuel reduction, prescribed and cultural burning, and managed wildfire treatments. Integrated landscape planning will be needed to address both the effects of the status quo (i.e., continued fire suppression) and of actions taken to return fire as a stabilizing ecosystem process. The extent of fire regime disruption warrants significant management and policy attention to alter the current trajectory and facilitate better co-existence with wildfire throughout this century.

Feature Resources

Publication: A century of transformation: fire regime transitions from 1919 to 2019 in southeastern British Columbia, Canada. Baron et al, 2022