Why Prescribed Fire?

Cultural and prescribed fire is the planned and controlled application of fire to a specific land area and is one of the most ecologically appropriate, and cost-effective means for achieving a variety of land management objectives and cultural values for Indigenous peoples.

Fire: A natural and essential phenomenon

Fire is a natural part of most ecosystems and is required to maintain balance in our forests. In fact, there are many benefits to ecosystems that are only achieved through the use of fire.

Fire suppression efforts have grown significantly over the last century, however the unintended consequences of these actions are causing our forests and other landscapes to become overgrown, negatively impacting ecosystems and threatening our communities with extreme wildfire.

For the ecosystem

Ecosystems are also affected by impacts of climate change, such as drought, disease and insect outbreaks, and the spread of invasive species.

Cultural and prescribed fire is an important land management tool to bring back balance to our ecosystems, protect our communities, contribute to B.C.’s climate action goals, and improves the resilience of the landscape.

We can categorize the many benefits of prescribed fire into five main areas:

1. Public Safety and Wildfire Risk Reduction

We are all too familiar with the risks of extreme wildfires that can devastate our communities and burn at an intensity that is detrimental to our ecosystems. Climate change is contributing to more frequent, larger and more severe wildfires, and this trend is expected to continue.

Prescribed fire can help decrease the frequency and intensity of extreme wildfires. Controlled low intensity burning during the Spring or Fall removes hazardous fuels from our landscapes and creates fuel breaks that mitigate impacts of wildfires, and makes our forests healthier and more resilient.

2. Cultural Burning for First Nations Values

For many Indigenous communities fire is a sacred and powerful element that can help on landscapes and in ceremony.

Through repeated burning practices, the Indigenous Peoples of the land are able to shape their own environment to their own specific needs. Indigenous communities use fire for ceremony, community protection, to sustain diverse plant and animal life, and for other reasons.

3. Improved Wildlife Habitat

Fire benefits numerous wildlife species and is even required for some animals to survive. Forests, grasslands and other landscapes can become dense and overrun by invasive species, negatively impacting the animals that rely on these habitats for food and shelter.

Controlled fire can bring back wildlife food sources, maintain areas required for travel and loafing, and bring balance to food chains and species.

4. Revitalized Vegetation

When forests become overcrowded they often become unhealthy, making them vulnerable to insects, disease and wildfire. Invasive species can drive-out native plant life. These conditions can be accelerated by the effects of climate change.

Controlled fire helps to bring vitality back to all types of landscapes that benefit from fire. This process rejuvenates the soil, brings the sun back to shaded areas, allows diverse native plant species to thrive, and makes forests more resilient to disease and pests.

5. Economic benefits

The economic benefits of prescribed fire are numerous. Timber harvested prior to a controlled burn and burning to improve soil conditions prior to planting contributes to our forestry industry and support the resources of First Nations communities. Removing forest build-up can also create a safer environment for forestry workers.

In addition, controlled low emission burning during the Spring and Fall can protect our communities from extreme fires during Summer months that negatively impact tourism and spending at the community level.