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Disrupted Fire Regimes

Historically, ecosystems across British Columbia, Canada, were adapted to fire regimes of varying frequency and severity. These fire regimes were maintained by a combination of Indigenous fire stewardship and lightning ignitions and actively created heterogeneous landscape mosaics. Over the last 150 years, the displacement of Indigenous peoples, policies of fire suppression and exclusion, and land-use change have disrupted these historical fire regimes and resulted in more homogenous landscapes that are increasingly susceptible to modern megafires - especially under climate change.

We use a combination of tree-rings, historical aerial photographs, contemporary fuels measurements, and modelling to quantify historical and modern fire regimes and their primary drivers of change. We work collaboratively with First Nations to contextualise shifting fire regimes through time with a focus on Indigenous fire stewardship. We also work with First Nations and local communities to identify the social and ecological outcomes of shifting fire regimes, combining qualitative social science methods (e.g., interviews) with quantitative ecological inventories (e.g., tree-rings, fuels data, plant communities). Since 2017, we have expanded this research to explore the impacts of modern megafires in dry forest and boreal ecosystems with disrupted fire regimes across British Columbia.


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