Sustainable forests and wildfire management

When it comes to the sustainable management of forests across BC, and the strength of the forestry sector, the challenges under climate change include:

  • changes in the geographical range, distribution and growth rates of tree species, including commercially important species;
  • an increase in the frequency, size or severity of forest fires, and the increase in emissions that these fires cause;
  • an increase in development in wildland-urban interfaces;
  • an increase in disturbances from insects and disease;
  • risks to mammals, birds and understory plants as a result of changing and shrinking habitats, including species that are traditional foods and medicines;
  • risks to aquatic species and ecosystems from extreme temperatures, precipitation and high-low flow events;
  • more safety and access problems as a result of fire, flood and erosion; and,
  • disruption in transportation, schedules and access to markets.

While the challenges are large, the forestry sector is working hard to address them. Climate Based Seed Transfer is one adaptation strategy that has been put into place. In this strategy, tree seeds are chosen to reforest areas based on their present and future climatic suitability to the areas. Previously, seeds were planted based on geography and the planting did not integrate climate change considerations. Some urban areas are also considering the impact of climate change on urban forests, and how to plant and grow these forests so that they withstand climate changes and continue to provide a multitude of benefits for our urban centres.

Wildfire has become a regular concern for people in British Columbia in both forested and grassland areas, threatening communities, homes, businesses, ecosystems, culturally and economically important plants and animals, transportation routes, lines of communication and utilities such as gas and hydro. Communities and organizations need to assess the risk of wildfire impacting their residents and assets, take preventive steps, and plan emergency response to meet those risks. First Nations communities have been successful in implementing traditional burning as a measure to mitigate wildfire risk.

Many examples of communities and individuals who have worked to guard against wildfire risk can be found on the FireSmart BC website.

The BC Regional Adaptation Collaborative has run a series of webinars on wildfire and climate change, which can be found at the link below.