Friday, January 19, 2018

BC Wildfire Photos, Fall 2017

When I was doing some reforestation viewing work in October and November of 2017, I ended up driving around many regions throughout central BC.  I was stunned by how extensive the wildfire damage was.

Obviously, the wildfires had been in the news for months, as it was BC's busiest fire season in history.  Several records were set, including records for the total amount of area burned in the province in a single year (1.2 million hectares), the number of people evacuated (over 65,000), and for hosting the largest single wildfire in BC's history (the Plateau fire, at 545,000 hectares, which is the size of Prince Edward Island).  More statistics can be found at these links:

Despite the news coverage, and despite knowing the scope of the damage, it was still very surreal to drive through those areas.  There were a few areas where I drove for over two hours through completely burned out devastation.

A very small portion of this area will be replanted by hand in 2018, but most of the burned area will have to rely on natural regeneration, and it will be decades before natural forests regenerate.  The amount of burned area is far beyond the scope of BC's reforestation industry to address, and even if enough tree planters and funding could be found to tackle the problem over the next 5-10 years, all the western Canadian forestry nurseries combined don't have nearly enough capacity to produce the required amount of seedlings.

On a positive note, a lot of the area that was burned had pine trees, and lodgepole pine comes back very quickly and densely after a fire.  This is because the cones usually survive fires, and the heat opens them so the seeds can escape and start a new forest.  However, that only applies in areas where mature stands burned.  Any areas that were logged in the past thirty to forty years wouldn't have the necessary mature trees with cones to initiate this process.

All of the photos here are from the Cariboo region, and specifically, from four different fires:  The Hanceville complex, the Plateau complex, the Central Cariboo complex, and the Gustafsen fire.  These areas were located to the west of 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, and Quesnel.

A lot of tree planters in central BC are going to be working in these areas in 2018.  For more information about tree planting in BC, visit

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