Cooperative Community Wildfire Response
COMMUNITY WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS
Despite extensive resource allocation to fire suppression efforts, the number, size, and severity of wildfire events have increased dramatically across western North America over recent decades. The extreme 2017, 2018, and 2021 wildfire seasons in British Columbia (BC), Canada, exemplified this emerging fire crisis. A record-breaking 3.4 million hectares of land burned throughout the province as several maximum temperature records were set. The socio-economic impacts of the wildfires were tremendous, with prolonged evacuations, hazardous air quality, and destruction of property. Such wildfire seasons demonstrate the increasing vulnerability of contemporary forest ecosystems, and the communities living in and dependent upon them. Proactive management strategies that move beyond reactive suppression tactics are urgently needed to address this wildfire crisis.
Our lab works on proactive management strategies related to:
There is little scientific research on the efficacy of different fuel reduction techniques in BC to guide the development and implementation of proactive fuel treatments. Our lab is working to assess the efficacy of alternative fuel treatments to mitigate potential fire behavior in the seasonally dry forests of BC. To address these research questions, we collect detailed pre-treatment, post-treatment, and post-fire data on key components of the wildland fuelbed. We use the compiled field data to model crown fire potential and fire severity under different fire weather scenarios.
Indigenous Peoples have stewarded their ancestral lands and waters since time immemorial. Many Indigenous groups hold Knowledge about co-existing with and utilizing fire to achieve their many stewardship goals, one of which being wildfire resilience close to communities. Despite this Knowledge, contemporary Indigenous communities face inequitable risk to wildfire as a result of colonial land management and oppression. Our lab works to amplify voices and Knowledge from Indigenous communities through respectfully working with Oral Histories, co-designing research projects on wildfire risk and historical fire regimes, and upholding Indigenous Rights to steward their Territories, including through cultural fire use.