Revolutionizing Wildfire Preparedness in BC: Centre for Wildfire Coexistence
UBC Forestry’s Centre for Wildfire Coexistence (CWC) responds to an escalating need to proactively adapt forestry and land management practices with the aim of restoring healthy and resilient forests, as communities adapt to a changing climate.
Led by Dr. Lori Daniels, Koerner Chair in Wildfire Coexistence at UBC, the Centre will support innovative approaches and novel discoveries co-created in collaboration with other research experts, Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, government agencies, private land owners and forest, fire and land management professionals.
Given our new climate reality, holistic and transformative changes to fire and forest management are urgently needed to achieve ecosystem and community resilience, and learn to coexist with wildfire.
The Centre aims to realize meaningful outcomes in the following areas:
- Create healthy and resilient forests through local- to landscape-level proactive management to help forests and communities adapt to a changing climate
- Prioritize proactive management and ecocultural restoration, including forest thinning, prescribed fire, and Indigenous cultural burning to increase forest and community resilience to megafires
- Build a robust community outreach and education program to share knowledge and ensure communities in fire-prone environments are prepared for wildfire
- Advance research co-led by Indigenous Knowledge Holders and Western scientists to share leading-edge advances with the global community
Landscape-level planning is the development of science-based land management plans for extensive areas within a region. The CWC will contribute to transformative changes across landscapes to increase forest heterogeneity and restore disrupted ecosystems by integrating Indigenous Knowledge with western science to improve resiliency to climate change.
The cost for wildfires in BC
|Year||Total Fires||Total Hectares Burned||Total Cost |
|State of Emergency |
(number of days)
* as of November 20, 2023
Wildfire affects the health and wellbeing of both human and wildlife populations.
When fires approach communities, they force evacuations and can lead to property loss or, more devastatingly, the loss of life. For example, two people lost their lives in a 2021 catastrophic wildfire that destroyed 90% of the Village of Lytton, BC.
Areas scorched by flames also displace wildlife, pushing some species closer to extinction. When inhaled, the fine particulate matter present in smoke can have negative health effects on individuals, particularly those with respiratory or cardiovascular disease.
A 2021 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that up to 50 per cent of air pollution particulate matter 2.5 microns or smaller found in some western regions of the United States is caused by wildfire — levels that have been ramping up over the past decade.
However, some fire is essential for the maintenance of health forests.
While the megafires seen within the past decade are unprecedented in their scale and intensity, fire still plays an important role in forest health and renewal. It removes dry, woody debris from the forest floor that can fuel more intense blazes. It also clears the way for renewed plant growth, supporting forest rejuvenation and overall health.
Reconstructions from tree rings reveal that low-severity fires once maintained diverse, resilient forests across much of BC’s interior region. These fires were ignited by both lightning and Indigenous fire stewardship.