B.C. is having longer hot seasons, warmer year-round weather and more drought. These changes in the climate are making it easier for wildfires to start and spread.

Trees with fire behind them.

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.

Wildfire burning with billowing smoke in a forest.

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.

Smoke-filled view over land and water.

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.

Funding community-led work to reduce wildfire risks

We’re funding partnerships and community-led work, such as FireSmart, that will reduce wildfire risks and wildfire impacts. 

Learn more about the Community Resiliency Investment Program.

Reducing wildfire risks through expanded cultural and prescribed burning

Prescribed burning is used to help reduce the intensity of naturally occurring wildfires. The expanded program will include guidelines for co-development of projects with Indigenous communities.

Learn more about prescribed burning.

Planning for resilient forests

We are using climate science and adaptation expertise to manage climate risks and plan for our future forests.

Learn more about forest landscape plans.

Be ready for an emergency. Learn about the hazards in your region and make a plan for staying safe.  

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Learn more about other hazards in British Columbia