Statement by Michael Armstrong, Vice-President and Chief Forester of the BC Council of Forest Industries on the Canadian Wildland Fire Prevention and Mitigation Strategy released June 7/24 by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM)

“This new national strategy emphasizes the need for increased awareness and investment in wildfire prevention and mitigation. In 2023, 2.8 million hectares of forests burned in BC, with 386 evacuation alerts that affected more than 137,000 people, and $966 million spent on wildfire suppression. The total greenhouse gas emissions from wildfires across Canada exceeded those from all industrial activity combined. A proactive approach to the increasing threat of wildfires in British Columbia is critical.

Diverse and extensive forests are integral to the social, environmental and Indigenous values in BC. Healthy forests also provide economic opportunities and jobs that support families in local and First Nations communities across the province. The rising frequency and intensity of wildfires pose significant risks to communities, ecosystems, and businesses. The forest industry in BC has a role to play in forest wildfire resilience, and in supporting action to inform, empower and equip workers, local governments, and communities to mitigate wildland fire risks.

Successful implementation of this national strategy in BC will require action in several key areas:

  • Enhanced Forest Landscape Planning and active forest management: Adopting a fire-centric approach to forest landscape planning and climate-smart forest management is a top priority. This includes investing in advanced fire shed mapping, creating fire breaks, and forest thinning to reduce fuel loads and improve forest health.
  • Community support for wildfire resilience: Increasing funding for municipalities and First Nations communities to adopt fire-proofing measures along the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) and raising awareness of the FireSmart BC program. More vegetation management and cultural or prescribed burns can also help protect communities and properties.
  • Research and innovation: Establishing new targets and financing strategies to expand the role of innovation in forest management for wildfire resilience, community and biodiversity protection, silviculture, and the salvage of damaged timber. Programs such as the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), which enable the use of low-grade wood and biomass, can reduce fire risks through the removal of dead and decaying wood that can be used in local manufacturing.

COFI looks forward to collaborating with all levels of governments, First Nations, local communities, and wildfire experts to support these and other measures. Together, we can enhance public safety, safeguard the environment, and ensure the resilience of BC’s forests.”



For more information, please contact:
Travis Joern, Director of Communications, COFI