I envision a world where people can live without fear of having their homes and the places they live wiped out by natural disasters, like forest fires, because I value safety and security from events exacerbated by climate change.
I think this will require us to go back to learn the history of the natural areas we live in. A lot of North America used to be a natural savanna, which included a mix of grasslands, woodlands, and shrublands, in addition to forests. This is what the land looked like before it was colonized. At this point, fire was a normal part of the ecosystem and was embraced as a way of managing the land. As colonizers came and settled, they began putting out fires as they came up. Over time, the savannas diminished in size over time, slowly being taken over by more and more forest areas. I think we need to embrace fire as a naturally occurring event that has been happening for a long time, but we also need to learn about how climate change is causing our fires to be more frequent and more intense now. We can start to use prescribed fires to reduce the amount biomass available to start fires around communities to protect them. I think we should also increase messaging about the importance of forest management for the prevention of ‘super’ forest fires in the same way we have successful messaging around preventing fires in the summer months using fire bans and sharing fire data from around the province. I think we can slowly work our way back towards a point where we live in partnership with the land and we manage it for both ours and their success.
I also think we need to start re-evaluating the planting standards used by foresters in BC. There is a very large industry of reforestation in BC (for future logging) and I have seen the planters be paid higher wages, and by the hour, for planting that involves higher spacing between seedlings and techniques around micrositing and species allocations that provide a diverse, polyculture planting scheme that allows for more trees to survive (decreasing the amount of biomass available for fuel). I think we should incorporate these planting standards and wages by reforestation companies in order to reduce the amount of fuel available for wildfires.