Grooming forests could be making fires worse, researchers warn

November 25, 2019

Scientists are growing increasingly critical of standard forest management practices, as studies demonstrate the methods may cause fires to travel farther and faster. CBC News interviewed Dr. Lori Daniels to discuss the potentially dangerous results of continuous spraying. Thousands of hectares of public forest are sprayed with glyphosate each year to promote profitable coniferous growth and eliminate hardwood species, like aspen and birch. However, Dr. Daniels, forest ecologist and a 2017 Wall Solutions recipient, notes that aspen, birch or broadleaf forests tend to be more resistant to fire. “[The fire] might burn through, but in a less intense way”, says Daniels. Eliminating aspen and birch can leave the forests more vulnerable and stoke the wildfires that have affected the province the past few years. She calls for a change in forest management practices to promote natural fire barriers. Diversifying the forests also helps to mitigate disease, limit insect infestations and sequester carbon dioxide.

Supported by a Wall Solutions grant, Dr. Daniels and her team explored community perceptions in Wildfire 2017: Community-Based Solutions to a Wicked Problem. Daniels and her colleagues identified barriers to community participation in wildfire prevention and developed programs with provincial leaders to increase participation in preventative wildfire management in B.C.

Wildfire Prevention and Fuels Management in the Wildlife-Urban Interface: BC Community Perceptions (October 2018)
Authors: Lori Daniels, Shannon Hagerman & Sarah Ravensbergen, Faculty of Forestry, UBC