Battling the blaze: Understanding B.C.'s wildfire history and future solutions

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B.C.'s changing climate and diverse landscape have made it a hotspot for destructive wildfires. After several devastating fire seasons, is the province learning to cope with what's coming?

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British Columbia is no stranger to wildfires. The province's diverse landscape, coupled with a changing climate, has made it a hotspot for these destructive events.

B.C.'s wildfire history Wildfires have been a part of B.C.'s ecosystem for centuries. However, the frequency and intensity of these fires have increased dramatically in recent years. Weather was a key driver of fire activity. In late July, “more than 70,000 lightning strikes lit up the province between July 31 and Aug. 1,” according to the BC Wildfire Service.

Logging practices and wildfires B.C.'s logging practices have been a contentious issue in the context of wildfires. Clear-cut logging, a common practice in B.C., involves removing all trees in a particular area. While this method is efficient for timber harvesting, it can exacerbate wildfire risks by leaving behind debris that can fuel fires.The province’s own data shows emissions from forestry operations turned B.C.’s forests from a carbon sink to a carbon emitter in 2003.

Evidence of the effectiveness of Indigenous burning practices is growing, both in B.C. and overseas in countries like Australia and across the Mediterranean. Too much dead wood Many experts who back prescribed or cultural burning acknowledge there’s so much woody debris built up in B.C.’s forests over the years that even large fire seasons will take decades to restore an equilibrium.

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