Wildfire behavior modelling in mountain pine beetle affected stands of British Columbia

PROJECT TEAM

Marcos Riquelme, PhD Student

Dr. Allan Carroll, PhD

Dr. Lori Daniels, PhD

Increased fuels

THE ONGOING MPB OUTBREAK has decimated over 18 million hectares of lodgepole pine forests in British Columbia. Effects associated with climate change, such as warming temperatures and drying climate, continue to enable MPB to establish in novel areas and expand its range. As a result, MPB-affected stands continue to rise along with their consequential fuels. Simultaneously, even in the absence of MPB, wildfire susceptibility has increased due to drought conditions associated with climate change. Therefore, the drought-driven increase of wildfire susceptibility and the fuel accumulation from MPB-affected stands due to climate change continue to create the perfect storm for yet another season of catastrophic wildfire in British Columbia.

“MPB-affected stands continue to rise along with their consequential fuels. Simultaneously, wildfire susceptibility has increased due to drought conditions associated with climate change.”

– Marcos Riquelme

The Effects of Wildfire

THUS FAR, the method implemented in British Columbia to treat MPB-affected stands has been salvage-logging. This remedial approach consists of logging the MPB-damaged trees in an attempt to recover economic value that would otherwise be lost while also reducing forest fuel content, thus decreasing the wildfire hazard in the future. However, little has been done to generate forecasting methods to preemptively address the issue of high severity wildfires in MPB-affected stands of British Columbia. At present, one fire behavior model has been developed, but improving this model could help better inform land management decisions.