Impacts of frequent and severe wildfires
Wildfires are unplanned and uncontrolled fires in natural areas, like forests and grasslands.
B.C. has always experienced wildfires. Wildfires can be important to the lifecycles of natural areas. They clear out dead plants, creating space for new plants to grow. New growth helps feed animals. Some plants, like pine trees, need fire to open their pinecones and release seeds. When fires happen more often and burn hotter, natural areas don’t always have time to recover.
A cycle of impact
Pests, like the mountain pine beetle, usually die out during the coldest winter months. With warmer winters, this isn’t happening. These pests damage and kill trees, making forests burn easily and quickly when a fire starts.
Healthy forests store climate-changing carbon and keep it out of the atmosphere. When we lose forests to wildfires, they release a large amount of carbon into the air. Human activity also releases lots of carbon into the air. Over time, all this carbon builds up and causes hotter temperatures, which causes more wildfires.
Future risks of wildfires in B.C.
As B.C.’s climate keeps changing, we will see large wildfires more often.
Bigger, hotter fires
Longer, hotter summers lead to more droughts and a longer wildfire season. Dry conditions make it easier for lightning storms and strong winds to start fires. These fires can spread, combine and burn for longer.
Danger for homes and communities
Bigger, hotter, more frequent wildfires can threaten the places we live. Evacuations may displace people. Homes and livelihoods may be at risk.
Poorer air quality
Smoke from the wildfires lowers our air quality, making it hard to breathe and unsafe to be outside. People with chronic health conditions are even more at risk for negative impacts from wildfire smoke.
B.C. is taking action
Budget 2022 allocated $359 million to reduce wildfire risk and support prevention and preparedness. Learn how we’re helping natural areas adapt to climate change and keeping our communities safe from wildfires.
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