Forest fires following logging in BC
Monitoring forest fires in clearcuts and plantations
The Chutlani Lake Fire in 2018 (Photo by BC Wildfire Service)
ACCORDING TO FOREST FIRE FUEL EXPERTS, logging an area of forest increases the fire hazard in that area for up to 30 years. Why? Fire hazard goes up initially because the slash left behind is more flammable than the forest that was removed. Moreover, the period of greatest hazard begins around 5 years after an area has been replanted. That’s because young conifer plantations, in dry, hot weather, are highly flammable. Over the past 30 years, an average of 232,000 hectares of BC forest has been logged each year, leaving an area of approximately 7 million hectares that poses a greater fire hazard than the forest that was removed. This, coupled with the drier, hotter, longer summers resulting from climate change, is the fundamental reason why BC forest fires are getting larger and more destructive. And the area being cut in BC each year is steadily increasing, meaning an ever increasing fire hazard.
This could be one of the strongest arguments for reducing the cut in BC. To determine whether or not this is playing out in real life, the Evergreen Alliance is undertaking a program of monitoring and correlating the extent to which forest fires in BC involve areas that underwent clearcut logging within the last 40 years. We need additional monitors during fire season. If you have GIS mapping skills, your assistance would be extremely helpful. To learn more, check out our Monitoring forest fires in clearcuts and plantations page for the current fire season. If you would like to help, contact us.
Shown below is the perimeter of the Flat Lake Fire, which started on July 8, 2021. The red line is the fire’s perimeter on the day this was mapped. The fire started with a lightning strike hitting a clearcut and burned through mainly logged forest: clearcuts and young plantations. By July 26 it had grown to 39,584 hectares in size.