Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Adapting to climate change: several projects to reduce wildfire risk across B.C. announced

By Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter   

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Sept. 26, 2022, British Columbia – As forest fires continue to burn in B.C., more projects for adapting to climate change have been announced by the province.

The BC Community Forest Association is co-ordinating with Crown Land Wildfire Risk Reduction (CLWRR) for four projects in the West Kootenay, it was announced Friday, part of the ongoing work to increase wildfire resiliency for communities and critical infrastructure.

The projects, managed by local communities and First Nations, involve community forests as key partners in the work to reduce wildfire risks across the province, said Katrine Conroy, Kootenay West MLA.

Completed or underway projects within the Southeast Fire Centre region are:

– Harrop Procter Community Co-operative: $184,070 for one prescription development project and four operational treatments;

– Kaslo and District Community Forest Society: $260,505 for a combination of three prescription development projects, with one of those projects also incorporating an operational treatment;

– Nakusp and Area Community Forest Inc: $30,000 for a prescription development treatment; and

– Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative: $148,500 for two operational treatments and two prescription development projects.

According to the CLWRR, the projects include cultural burning and prescribed fire, hazard reduction, tactical planning, fuel treatment and prescriptions.

The projects are part of the Community Resiliency Investment Program administered by the BC Wildfire Service, which supports wildfire risk reduction treatments on provincial Crown land near communities, around critical infrastructure and in areas facing a higher wildfire risk.

“We know that it takes more than a single-season approach to protect our communities from forest fires,” said Nelson-Creston MLA Brittany Anderson in a press release. “By taking year-round action … we are ensuring that our forests are safer and more resilient to the devastating effects of climate change.

Cash infusion

Three weeks ago it was announced that $1 million was to be injected into the local economy through a provincial program aimed at reducing wildfire risk in the communities around Nelson.

The province funded five West Kootenay projects to not only reduce wildfire risk but also to enhance wildlife habitat, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from slash pile burning and foster the development of forest recreation and ecological resiliency.

The Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC) earmarked three projects near Kaslo, one in the Slocan Valley and another in the forest near Harrop-Procter — and 22 across the province — as part of the West Kootenay wing of the project.

The projects from FESBC — a Crown agency established in 2016 to advance the environmental and resource stewardship of the province’s forests by preventing wildfires — were aimed at proactive wildfire prevention.

Long time coming

It will be some time before the projects will be completed, however.

The work is slated to finish by March, 2024, although the work in the region has already begun.

Since 2016, FESBC has supported more than 260 projects throughout B.C. Sixty-three of these projects have been led by First Nations and another 23 have significant First Nations’ involvement. FESBC projects have reduced wildfire risk in 120 communities and have created more than 2,100 full-time jobs.

Slash and burn

As part of the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, the province will work toward near elimination of slash pile burning by 2030 and will divert materials away from slash piles and into bioproduct development.

This will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, while creating new opportunities in British Columbia’s expanding forest bio-economy.

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