THE FUTURE IS HERE: “We thought we were going to see these kinds of fire conditions maybe 10 years down the road,” said Robert Gray, fire ecologist

British Columbians will have to learn with fire

In a December 2017 article by Geordon Gray, published in the Vancouver Sun newspaper, Lori Daniels (an ecology professor at the University of British Columbia) said communities are not prepared to deal with the new realities of fire in a world increasingly upended by climate change and that’s an important lesson from the summer 2017 fire season.

‘We have to learn to live with fire,” Daniels said, adding that 2017 “cannot be another wake-up call. Our forests, our communities are not resilient. The status quo is not working, and that refers to both forest management and its impact on wildfires.”

Tinkering with the system is not enough, said Daniels, who is advocating for an overhaul to how BC approaches fire prevention that would involve letting more blazes burn, leaving some areas as grasslands and regularly removing flammable underbrush that accumulates near inhabited areas.

“Unless we do that, our communities won’t be safe, our citizens won’t be safe and it won’t be possible to have a sustainable forest industry.”

The Future has Arrived Early

Robert Gray, a Chilliwack-based fire ecologist who is also quoted in the article, said one of the most troubling aspects of 2017, is how much more severe it was than expected.

“We thought we were going to see these kinds of fire conditions maybe 10 years down the road, thinking we had time to get ahead of the curve,” he said. “The fact that it’s happened now means that we are going to see conditions worse than this in the future – in the near future, if you believe that.’

To Learn More:

Download We created B.C.’s wildfire problem – and we can fix it, an opinion piece,  co-authored by Lori Daniels and Robert Gray, and published in the Globe & Mail newspaper.