Study to Assess Wildfire Risk in Southern British Columbia

A timely forest research project is underway this winter to assess the wildfire hazard in Southern British Columbia.

Study Will Assess Wildfire Risk in Southern British Columbia

A timely forest research project is underway this winter to assess the wildfire hazard in Southern British Columbia. Funded by the province’s forest investment account the study will estimate and characterize the risk of wildfire and evaluate different fire risk management strategies. Many fire experts believe British Columbia faces a wildfire threat similar to the recent U.S. and Australian forest fire seasons. The ongoing provincial multiple-attribute risk assessment, the first of its kind in the province, will provide government with an idea of the potential scale of the problem across southern B.C. It will identify prime hazards and allow for more strategic wildfire management planning.

Wildfire management is now a major undertaking in the U.S. under the American Healthy Forests Initiative. An estimated 12-billion dollars are to be spent over the next 10 years in a proactive attempt to reduce the frequency and severity of wildfires across the country. The work includes commercial thinning, ecosystem restoration, thinning, brushing, and pruning stands along with interface fire mitigation projects near settlements and residences.

The U.S. national forests being treated under their initiative are roughly equal in area to the public forests of British Columbia. Here there is no overarching strategic approach to fuel management and wildfire mitigation and little money dedicated to this pressing forest health issue. The study may provide an overview that will help government to concentrate its mind more effectively around this major challenge.

Bruce Blackwell and Bob Gray two of the principal researchers on the project will be part of the 2003 WSCA conference panel discussion on forest health Wednesday 29 January, 2003.