Fire-Smart Forest Management: A Pragmatic Approach to Sustainable Forest Management in Fire Dominated Ecosystems K. Hirsch and V. Kafka Canadian Forest Service, Edmonton, AB Ray Hilts Millar Western, Whitecourt, AB Natural Resources Canada Ressources naturelles CanadaCanadian Forest Service Service canadien des forêts
Presentation Outline 1. Introduction and Background (Hirsch) • General Fire Facts • Fuels Management Concepts • Introduce Fire-Smart Forest Management 2. Millar Western and Fire: An Industry Perspective (Hilts) • Overview of Company/FMA • Background - general attitude/interest towards Fire • Fire and the DFMP 3. Creating and Evaluating Fire-Smart Landscapes (Kafka) • Assessing Landscape Fire Behaviour Potential • Evaluating Landscape-level Fuels Management Strategies 4. Operational Implementation (Hilts) 5. Where do we go from here? (Hirsch)
Social • balance between social, economic, and ecological sustainability Ecological Economic Characteristics of Emerging Forest Management Philosophies SFM, ecosystem management, ecological management • systems-based, process oriented • stand and landscape level • current and future needs
Wildfires are a natural component of boreal forest ecosystems Ecological benefits • ecosystem health • biodiversity • landscape metrics Socio-economic impacts • life and property • timber supply • water and air quality
Fires > 200 ha (1980-89) Wildfires are a significant natural disturbance in the Boreal Forest • ~10,000 fires/year • 0.3-7.5 million ha • burned • $200-800 million
It is neither economically possible nor ecologically desirable to eliminate fire from the ecosystem. • Forest/ecosystem/resource management becomes a form of risk • Short-term socioeconomic risks associated with fire • Longer-term ecological risks associated with no-fire • Requires proactive, landscape level, long-term thinking that acknowledges the value of ecosystem processes
Factors affecting fire behavior Vertical arrangement Moisture content Size and shape Compactness Fuel loading Continuity Chemistry Steepness of slope Position on slope Aspect Elevation Shape of landscape Fuels Topography Weather Wind speed and direction, Relative humidity Precipitation, Temperature, Atmospheric stability
FUELS MANAGEMENT Definition “The planned manipulation of flammable forest vegetation to decrease the intensity and rate of spread of a wildfire” (Canadian Glossary of Forest Fire Management Terms)
TYPES OF FUELS MANAGEMENT 1. Fuel Reduction 2. Fuel Conversion 3. Fuel Isolation
“Natural” or Untreated Stand Closed canopy, dense overstory (including standing dead materials) Continuous ladder fuel Heavy dead and down 1. FUEL REDUCTION Definition: Actions taken to decrease the total amount of fuel in a given area.
Thinning of overstory Reduce potential for horizontal spread of crown fires Removal of ladder fuels Reduce vertical spread (crowning) potential Reduction of dead and down Reduce surface fire intensity FUEL REDUCTION Treated or Managed Stand
2. FUEL CONVERSION Definition: The replacement of highly flammable coniferous fuels (e.g., black or white spruce) with less volatile deciduous stands (e.g., aspen and poplar).
3. FUEL ISOLATION Definition: The fragmentation of large areas of continuous forest fuels through the use of fuel breaks or prescribed fire.
Use fuels management to manipulate the forest fuels • Reduce fire intensity and spread potential • Increase suppression effectiveness • Reduce the likelihood of damage
EXAMPLE: Value of fully leafed-out aspen stands as a fuelbreak Crown fire in black spruce Aspen forest
Fire-Smart Sustainable Forest Management
Minimize Area Burned Forest Mgt Fire Mgt • site preparation • regeneration • stand tending • harvesting systems and scheduling • block layout and design • road construction • prevention • suppression Traditional Fire-Forestry Relationship Under Sustained Yield Philosophy Maximize Fibre Production
Fire-Smart Sustainable Forest Management Objective: To use forest management activities in a planned and strategic manner to: • reduce the area burned by undesirable wildfires and • reduce the risk associated with the use of prescribed fire Working with nature to determine where and when to put and/or allow fire on the landscape while minimizing short- and long-term risk
Forest Management site preparation, regeneration, stand tending, harvesting systems and scheduling, block layout and design, road construction Behaviour potential Ignition potential Suppression capability Number of escape wildfires Risk associated with prescribed fire Area burned by escape fires Social, economic, and ecological effect of fire New Fire-Forestry Relationship under SFM
Fire-Smart Forest Management “Thinking about fire when doing forest management”
FUTURE WORK Concepts seem reasonable but we do not have all of the answers Need for a more rigorous and quantitative an assessment (NCE Project) • Effectiveness at reducing fire size • Impact on timber supply, wildlife, biodiversity, etc. • Develop spatial and temporal optimization of barriers to fire spread • Develop burn probability maps and evaluate the likelihood of “company ending events” • Link with landscape management initiatives • Develop guidelines for forestry activities at the stand level • Need to overcome challenges to the use of prescribed fire
FUTURE WORK Link to Climate Change • Evaluate impact of future climate on fire behaviour potential using RCM data • Evaluate the effectiveness of fire smart forest management as a climate change adaptation strategy Facilitate Innovative Thinking • Get fire managers and forest managers working together (concept paper, presentations, seminars, pilot projects) • Integrating Fire and Sustainable Forest Management Course • Philosophies and Concepts • Understanding Fire and the Fire Environment • Tools and Techniques
SUMMARY We are living and working in a flammable forest. Forest management is a form of risk management. Proactive measures (e.g., fuels management) can minimize the negative social, economic, and ecological risk of fire. Fire-Smart Forest Management - “Thinking about fire when you are doing forestry” Tools and techniques are available to assist decision-makers. Changes will take time but implementation can start immediately.
Project Collaborators LFS Cordy Tymstra, Karl Peck, Herman Stegehius, Sherra Quinitilio Millar Western and Associated Firms Jonathan Russell, Ray Hilts, Laird Van Damme, Ted Gooding CFS Bernie Todd, Brad Hawkes, Brian Stocks, Mike Flannigan, Brian Amiro, Mike Wotton, Marc Parisien University of Toronto Dave Martell, Jay Malcolm University of Chile Andres Weintraub Ontario MNR Rob McAlpine, Rob Davis University of Alberta Glen Armstrong, other SFM researchers Funding/Support: CFS, LFS, Millar Western, NCE-SFM, CCAF, PARC
Thank You • ftp://ftp.nofc.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/pub/fire/docs/Hirsch • … /fire/docs/Kafka • … /fire/IFSFMcourse Natural Resources Canada Ressources naturelles CanadaCanadian Forest Service Service canadien des forêts