What today's B.C. wildfires can tell us about the future

Escalating devastation in the British Columbia Interior is creating widespread hardship. Through this testing time, we should also be thinking about future-proofing the province's people and resources, since the problems aren't going away.

Lives are at stake today and we can only hope that wildfire-affected communities are evacuated safely while a dynamic situation unfolds. It will also be helpful to consider some facts towards building an informed perspective, because there is going to be a lot of attention on why our forests are in the state they are in and what needs to be done in the future. 

hydro-remote.jpgHere are five talking points:

  1. Increasing development in rural areas means there is more value to protect. The photo above of a transmission line is one example of a vulnerable asset located in a forest.
  2. There are limits to fire suppression capacity and budgets. In 2009-10, $600 million was spent and in each of 2014 and 2015 the cost amounted to $300 million.
  3. The legacy of the mountain pine beetle epidemic is a vast amount of fuel.
  4. Climate change predictions mean the intensity of severe fires is going to double by 2040-50.
  5. All of this adds up to serious impacts to natural resources, government assets, industries, communities, health and our economy.

This slide, from a wildfire expert's presentation at the Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association in 2016, shows the trend toward more severe wildfires:

The trend is a worry for many reasons, one of them being the importance of a healthy forest sector for the economy. The following infographic (from the ILMA, Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association) shows the linkages:



There are plenty of good reasons to value and respect our natural places. When we lose trees, we lose natural habitat that can be a well-managed resource creating benefits throughout the B.C. economy long into the future. But unless serious long-term issues are faced down, today that future is at risk.

Images: Merritt Herald; Interior Lumber Manufacturers' Association.



Do you like this?