Fifty years of wildland fire science in Canada

13 March 2021

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CANADA – A group of nine land managers and researchers in Canada have put together a compendium highlighting the country’s accomplishments in wildland fire science over the last 50 years. Information in the 296 pages plus more than 300 references covers five key developments and contributions:

  • The creation of the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System;
  • The relationships between wildland fire and weather, climate, and climate change;
  • Fire ecology;
  • Operational decision support; and,
  • Wildland fire management.

There is also a case study about the evolution of wildland fire management in Banff National Park.

Banff NP, wildfire vs Rx fires
Annual area burned by wildfire and prescribed fire in Banff National Park from 1910 to 2018. Note the long period of fire exclusion from the 1940s until the early 1980s. (From “Fifty years of wildland fire science in Canada”)

The paper discusses additional research needs, including:

  • Further evaluation of fire severity measurements and effects;
  • Efficacy of fuel management treatments; Climate change effects and mitigation;
  • Further refinement of models pertaining to fire risk analysis, fire behaviour, and fire weather; and,
  • Integration of forest management and ecological restoration with wildland fire risk reduction.
Canadian wildland fire research, by decade
Timeline of some key developments in Canadian wildland fire science by decade from the 1970s to the 2010s. FWI, Fire Weather Index System; FBP, Fire Behaviour Prediction System; NSERC, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. (From “Fifty years of wildland fire science in Canada”)

The paper is available at Canadian Science Publishing (html). A .pdf version is also online.

Authors of the referenced online document: Sean C.P. Coogan, Lori D. Daniels, Den Boychuk, Philip J. Burton, Mike D. Flannigan, Sylvie Gauthier, Victor Kafka, Jane S. Park, and B. Mike Wotton.

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