Updated Wildfire Threat Analysis

The BC Wildfire Service recently issued an update to the Provincial Strategic Threat Analysis (PSTA), a collection of datasets that are used together to identify interface areas that may be at risk of wildfire.

Local governments, First Nations, natural resource management agencies and resource-based industries use the datasets to prioritize community wildfire protection planning, and to guide mitigation of wildfire in areas identified to be at risk. The mapping layers include vegetation types, historical wildfire data, forest fuel classification, fire behaviour patterns, geography and other factors.

The PSTA 2015 Wildfire Threat Analysis presents these relative wildfire threats at a provincial scale only. In an area where a high risk is indicated, a qualified professional should confirm the actual rating at the forest stand level. The 2015 Wildfire Threat Analysis and associated maps are available online.

The PSTA informs the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative (SWPI) and the government’s landscape fire management planning and fuel treatment programs. Fuel treatment is the process of modifying forest or rangeland fuels.

Since 2004, the SWPI has provided funding to local governments and First Nations for wildfire protection planning and fuel treatment. Funding applications are accepted on an ongoing basis and the next intake deadlines are April 29 and September 30, 2016.

While wildfire is a key process and component of ecosystems in British Columbia, the present wildfire situation in British Columbia presents challenges:

  • Continued growth of the wildland urban interface (WUI) and the expansion of infrastructure related to energy development (and other industries) on the forested landbase
  • Suppression of naturally occurring wildfires has contributed to unhealthy forest and range ecosystems and unnaturally high fuel loads
  • The effects of climate change are resulting in longer and more extreme fire seasons.

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