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We are also working to understand which B.C. forest and ecosystems are most at risk from wildfire to maximize the impact of wildfire prevention efforts. For instance, what is the wildfire risk of B.C.’s coastal rainforests compared to its sub-boreal or interior woodlands, and where are efforts best targeted?  Although the delivery of risk reduction and climate mitigation strategies is expensive and labour intensive, the costs of inaction to our communities, health and environment are far greater.

Our research envisions a world in which fuel removal from overstocked forests is paired with new uses for biomass and fibre such as bioplastics and wood products for mass timber buildings. Such synergies could not only create jobs in rural and First Nation communities and support a fair economic recovery from the current pandemic, but may also reduce wildfire risk and carbon emissions and enhance the capacity of forests to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Year after year, we have experienced the devastating impact of climate-fuelled wildfires, and we must not wait for B.C.’s next catastrophic fire season to take bold action. Money for wildfire risk reduction is an important part of B.C.’s recovery package and targeted science can help maximize the effectiveness of such investments — to protect the climate, B.C.’s forests and our communities.

Dr. Carly Phillips is a researcher-in-residence with the University of Victoria hosted-and-led Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions’ Wildfire and Carbon Project (PICS), with expertise on wildfires, carbon cycling, and climate mitigation. The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) is hosted and led by the University of Victoria, in collaboration with the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Northern British Columbia.


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