Report urges communities to reduce forest fire risks

VICTORIA – Communities that have carried out fuel reduction projects are commended for their leadership in dealing with B.C.’s growing forest fire risk, said a Forest Practices Board report issued today.

The report addresses a major ongoing issue of public safety arising from the risks of wildfire where communities have extended into the forest, known as ‘wildland urban interface areas’. Provincial estimates are that 685,000 hectares (or 6,850 square kilometres) are at high risk of an interface fire.

“While there is an enormous amount of work that needs to be done to reduce fuel levels in high-hazard areas, many communities are rising to the challenge by both developing the necessary plans and prescriptions, and making use of the supporting funds provided by the Province through the Union of BC Municipalities, and other sources,” said board chair Bruce Fraser.

“Fuel management is a huge and urgent task and obviously more must be done. To support that, the report provides communities with tips on how to proceed with their own fuel-reduction program, along with references to resources that could help them get started.”

“It also points out that communities bear some responsibility to consider and mitigate forest-fire risk when approving new developments in the urban wildland interface, and that individual homeowners have a responsibility to FireSmart their properties.”

The investigation reviewed 50 fuel treatment projects across the province and identified what approaches are working for communities and what lessons can be learned from the work done to date. The report includes recommendations to provincial and municipal governments, as well as those involved in fuel-reduction projects.

The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board can investigate and report on current forestry and range issues and make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.

More information can be obtained by contacting:

Helen Davies, Communications
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250 213-4708 / 1-800 994-5899