Data Show Canadian Wildfires At Lowest Level In Decades

Here’s something surprising from Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That. While USA wildfires are running higher the last couple of years, according to Canada’s National Forestry Database, the number of forest fires in Canada has been at the lowest since 1990. Of course, Canada takes a management approach to forests compared to the USA’s “let it be or litigation” mess.

Source: http://nfdp.ccfm.org/en/data/fires.php

According to the Met Office, global warming is leading to record breaking fires in North America.

Canada, of course, is a large part of North America, so surely fires should be getting worse there too.

In fact wildfires this year are running at just 8% of the 10-year average:

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All provinces are well below average:

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This suggests that meteorological conditions have been responsible for both the glut of fires in the US west and the dearth in Canada.

More significant though is the long term trend in Canada:

1994, 1995 and 1998 recorded the biggest wildfire acreages. But over the full period, there is no obvious trend at all.

Full story here

41 thoughts on “Data Show Canadian Wildfires At Lowest Level In Decades

  1. Posted in 2016
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/11/26/surprise-greedy-green-energy-corporatists-are-clear-felling-protected-forests-for-biomass/comment-page-1/#comment-2352965

    The boreal forest (taiga) in Russia is almost 50% greater in area that all the forests of Brazil. Canada’s boreal forest is the third largest forest area in the world, after Russia and Brazil. Next largest in area are the forests of the USA, China, Indonesia, Zaire, and the Nordic countries.

    Fully 1/3 of the total area of our planet is still covered by forests, despite some really bad practices in recent years, especially those caused by idiot greens who encouraged the clear-cutting of tropical forests to grow sugar cane and palm oil for biofuels.

    Below is some more information on the boreal forest. You can fly all day over Russia or Canada and see nothing but forest – it’s not like we are running short. Nevertheless the slime-greens act like very single tree is so precious that we are not allowed to cut trees near towns. The result is that we have had disastrous fires in Slave Lake and Fort McMurray where the towns had to be evacuated and many structures were destroyed as the fires spread through the municipalities. These disasters were entirely avoidable.

    It is easy to find examples where the slime-greens have been responsible for huge loss of life and enormous property damage. What is difficult in recent decades is finding any examples of the greens doing good.

    Regards, Allan

    http://www.borealforest.org/index.php?category=world_boreal_forest&page=overview

    In the uppermost Northern Hemisphere, North America, Europe, and Asia have significant expanses of land. The boreal forests ring the regions immediately south of the Arctic Circle in a vast expanse that easily rivals the rainforest regions of the world. The northern boreal ecoregion accounts for about one third of this planet’s total forest area. This broad circumpolar band runs through most of Canada, Russia and Scandinavia.

    The circumpolar range of the boreal forest. About two-thirds of the area is in Eurasia. The sector in Eastern Canada lies farthest from the North Pole. Map source, Hare and Ritchie (1972).

    In North America, the boreal eco-region extends from Alaska to Newfoundland, bordering the tundra to the north and touching the Great Lakes to the south.

    Known in Russia as the taiga, the boreal forest constitutes one of the largest biome in the world, covering some 12 million square kilometres. Overlying formerly glaciated areas and areas of patchy permafrost on both continents, the forest is mosaic of successional and subclimax plant communities sensitive to varying environmental conditions. It has relatively few species, being composed mainly of spruces, firs, and conifers, with a smattering of deciduous trees, mostly along waterways. The boreal forest seems associated with the location of the summertime arctic airmass – it begins generally where it reaches its southern limit, and it extends to the southern most extension during the winter. Thus, it lies between the summer and winter positions of the arctic front.

    The boreal forest corresponds with regions of subarctic and cold continental climate. Long, severe winters (up to six months with mean temperatures below freezing) and short summers (50 to 100 frost-free days) are characteristic, as is a wide range of temperatures between the lows of winter and highs of summer. For example, Verkhoyansk, Russia, has recorded extremes of minus 90 F and plus 90 F. Mean annual precipitation is 15 to 20 inches, but low evaporation rates make this a humid climate.

    Also characteristic of the boreal forest are innumerable water bodies: bogs, fens, marshes, shallow lakes, rivers and wetlands, mixed in among the forest and holding a vast amount of water. The winters are long and severe while summers are short though often warm.

    Forests cover approximately 19.2 million square miles (49.8 million square kilometres) – (33%) of the world’s land surface area. They are broken down as follows:
    Total Area mil. sq. km.
    Boreal Forests 16.6
    Other Forests 33.2

    • Alan, a great fact that gives a measure of the size of Siberia is: the distance between Moscow and Chicago is the same as that between Moscow and Vladivostock on the Pacific coast!

      • Vladivostok to Moscow is 6415 km, Chicago to Moscow 7999 km, at least according to the web site I looked at. Newfoundland is closer, though — 5873 km from St. John’s to Moscow.

    • Good comment.

      You have it correct in your last paragraph, but in the 3rd paragraph you should clarify that forests comprise about 1/3 of total LAND area. Here is the part of the sentence from the 3rd paragraph.

      “Fully 1/3 of the total area of our planet is still covered by forests…”

  2. Post from 2018
    https://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/half-albertas-boreal-forest-could-disappear-due-to-fires-and-climate-change#comments-area

    What are the chances this is just another exaggerated enviro-scare? My best guess is “more probable than not”.

    The article is here. https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ecs2.2156

    It assumes that global warming will occur, based on climate computer models that have been utter failures to date. Some highly competent scientists believe that solar activity has a much greater influence on climate than increasing atmospheric CO2 and that moderate global cooling is imminent as the next stage in a natural global cycle.

    Environment Canada’s weather data is not easily accessible in a useable format. Precipitation data is only available by year, so analysis is laborious.

    Long term river flow data (back to 1910) is available for the North Saskatchewan River at Prince Albert Saskatchewan, but it is also in a less-than-useful format.
    https://wateroffice.ec.gc.ca/report/historical_e.html?stn=05GG001&mode=Graph&type=h2oArc&results_type=historical&dataType=Annual+Extremes&parameterType=Flow&year=2016&year=2016&y1Max=1&y1Min=1

    From my previous work in this area, it appeared that there is a natural and ~cyclical oscillation in North Saskatchewan River, with less flow in warmer periods and more flow in colder times. There does not seem to be reason for major concern with recent river flows, which correlate with total precipitation.

    It is true that forest fire management in Alberta is antiquated, and the authorities seem to have learned nothing from the Slave Lake fire and the Fort McMurray fire. The rational conclusion is to modernize forest fire management, which has regressed in recent decades.

    The boreal zone is Canada’s largest vegetation zone, making up 55 per cent of the country’s land mass. It extends from Yukon and northern British Columbia in the west to Newfoundland and Labrador in the east.

    If Canada’s boreal zone was a country, it would be the 7th largest in the world, somewhat smaller than Australia but much larger than India.

    I don’t think we’re going to run out of boreal forest any time soon.

    • With the CO2 fertilization effect, forest growth around the world is only going to accelerate in the coming centuries. If we’ve delayed the onset of the next 100Kyr glaciation by some number of millennia with our FF-burning, then one day, future societies will thank us.

  3. Allan Macrae’s posting is goodf but unfinished. I’d like to read the end of it.

    And for the first Smartalec comment: The fires are less because all that extra CO2 is quenching them.

  4. Posted in 2016:
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/05/06/fort-mcmurray-wildfire-climate-or-incompetence/comment-page-1/#comment-2210730

    Here is the evidence of government incompetence:
    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/albertas-wildfire/

    “And as Bernie Schmitte, forestry manager in Fort McMurray, explained:

    “The boreal forest is a fire-dependant ecosystem. The spruce trees, pine trees, they like to burn,”

    “They have to burn to regenerate themselves, and those species have adapted themselves to fire. Their cones have adapted so they open up after the fire has left, and the trees have adapted in that once they’re old and need to be replaced, they’re available to fire so they burn.”

    There is a much bigger proportion of older trees now because of earlier fire suppression, and it is these that are most combustible.”
    ___________

    In summary:

    1. These older trees must be cleared from near towns or firestorms are inevitable. Pandering to green fanatics who oppose the cutting of older trees is the root cause of the Fort McMurray fire and other disasters, like the Slave Lake fire of 2011.

    2. And firebreaks DO help – but they have to be in place before the fire, and they have to be very wide to be effective, especially in a firestorm.

    At Fort Mac we have huge fleets of the largest heavy equipment on the planet – we can cut wide firebreaks in a few weeks – but incompetent governments pandering to phony green fanatics made this impossible.

    • Precious little chance of that here in BC. The forests that are choked most seem to be the ones near the towns because the greenies like them. The managed forests are where the lumbering operates.

    • Here in Yukon we have fire management corridors where they take out all the deciduous trees, because they burn hotter (apparently).

  5. Of course, Canada takes a management approach to forests compared to the USA

    That’s a bit of a stretch. The “sustainable” management approach is more concerned with regeneration after timber harvesting. Either by natural regeneration or by scarifying the ground surface, replanting of the desired species (usually jackpine because it grows faster than spruce), then spraying with defoliant so the evergreens aren’t stunted by living in the shade of young new poplars.

    Fire management in Canada seems to be on an ad hoc basis. Fires that threaten habitations and infrastructure are actively suppressed, but fires in more remote areas are usually allowed to burn themselves out. If I had to guess, I would say that at least 75 percent of fires are in uninhabited areas, and left to burn.

    There were disastrous fires in Canada a century ago, before fire fighting became mechanized and effective, and before there was a green lobby to blame.

    http://www.ontarioplaques.com/Plaques/Plaque_Cochrane15.html
    http://www.ontarioplaques.com/Plaques/Plaque_Timiskaming09.html

    • -“There were disastrous fires in Canada a century ago, before fire fighting became mechanized and effective, and before there was a green lobby to blame.”-
      ….and before there was extra CO2 to blame.

    • “Fire management in Canada seems to be on an ad hoc basis”

      Um…yeah.

      Mostly because it is done provincially, NOT federally. So, each province has a different ministry, etc.

    • “that’s a stretch”
      It sure is. Canada’s forests are mostly in totally unpopulated areas. The government keeps stats on what they call ‘Canada’s Managed Forests’ where logging permits are issued, which are maybe 3% of the forested area. Then the extrapolate those stats to the forested area where nobody has set foot except maybe by helicopter for a decade or two. As a result, they come up with silly statements that Canada’s forests are net carbon emitters instead of sinks, as if the trees don’t grow every year, or the range of the forest doesn’t expand northward as it has every century for the last 80 centuries since the glaciers receded.

    • There were disastrous fires just a few years ago. One in Slave Lake and another in Fort McMurray that destroyed large areas of both centers. Anywhere there are populated areas that border forest there is a certainty that serious property damage will eventually occur. This is aggravated by the fact that people like to live in those surroundings. I believe it would help-a lot- if the federal government assigned a subsidy to these towns to maintain some fire suppression measures. This would need to be audited periodically. The forest immediately bordering these towns should be cut back into parks and golf courses, camping and picnic areas to limit the fuel load. Having these kinds of green spaces further away while allowing the forest to butt up against populated ares is the kind of planning stupidity that we see everywhere from our university educated city planners.

    • Smart Rock, the forest relies on fire to clear out old growth and renew the coniferous peak vegetation. We only need to suppress fire if it threatens people or property. Allowing nature to take its course in remote forested areas where no one lives makes sense, from both an ecological and a cost perspective.

  6. No worries folks.

    Wildfires in Canada will suddenly increase as a soon as the next federal election begins. Have faith.

  7. I gather that many of these wildfires petered out when they arrived at a well managed area of forestry. Is this tue?

    • Alasdair,
      No, it’s mostly totally random where lightning strikes and the weather has been dry for a week. On the other hand, arsonists seem to have sizeable clubs in certain locations, especially where unemployed people can get jobs as firefighters during burn season.

    • In the more remote areas they burn all summer until snow arrives or it rains. Sometimes they smolder all winter until the snow melts in spring and they dry out enough to flare up again.

  8. “Canada, of course, is a large part of North America, so surely fires should be getting worse there too.”

    Yeah, kinda like how malaria stops at the Mexican-US border.

  9. What’s particularly nice about this counter evidence, is that by consensus theory, Canada should be *more* affected by global warming than the US due to it’s latitude.

  10. I’m wondering, did the big fire that burned through Paradise, California in the recent past reduce the fire danger there today (by removing a lot of flammable material)?

      • And forests are expanding, probably due to a mild increase in temps, and a bit more water vapor (rainfall) that a warmer atmosphere can generate. Along with more CO2 in the atmosphere which is a big deal that gets little credit except from sites like WUWT. You can’t stop a forest from regrowing unless you develop it for some other purpose.

        Some of the tragedy is the conversion of virgin tropical jungle to monoculture palm and sugarcane plantations, but it is still very green and productive, albeit maybe not for Orangutans and/or other high value biodiversity for other plants and animals. So that is harmful. Wise resource management has to be the rule, and not the exception. Canada does resource extraction probably better than most nations on the good Earth, but yet get the most hassle from malevolent forces.

        • Protesting in Vancouver or Ottawa gets the Greenies accolades from fawning liberal media. Protesting in Malaysia or Indonesia gets the Greenies a dark nasty jail cell.

    • Since spring lumber has nearly doubled in price in BC – shut downs in mills and exports to the US.

  11. “This suggests that meteorological conditions have been responsible for both the glut of fires in the US west and the dearth in Canada.”

    Yes! First you need the conditions ripe for fire, a fuel supply and a source of ignition. Having proper forest management sure helps as well, but keep in mind, there is always the same volume timber of growing as we try and only log 1% per year of the land base, (and the forest grows incrementally 1+%% annually) but getting a new young crop of trees replaces an old mature stand that is no longer putting on much growth. That reduces the fire risk in the younger stands, both to insects, disease and fire. Which older mature forest cause with old age.

    The last 2 years in much of western forested Canada has been wet and cold as compared to the two years previous, when BC, Alberta and much of the northern Boreal forest were having so many fires. Except for a few warmer/hot weather weeks this August, you couldn’t have started a forest fire with a propane blow torch if you tried. South eastern BC and the Okanagan had some fires, but on balance the last 2 years have been below the long term average because of timely rains and coolish weather. More weather driven than proper forest management, since there is still a lot of fuel everywhere. But obviously, that which was logged isn’t available to burn until the new crop is established, so there is that.

    In 2017 and 2018, there was that persistent high pressure parked off the Pacific coast that led to extended dry conditions in British Columbia/Rocky Mountains and the vast northern forests and we had disastrous conditions ripe for fire and we did have very large fire complexes leading to large evacuations including Washington State. It was a close call whether some significant smaller cities burned down, and luck and good fire management alleviated the worst to human impacts. There is also much less urban interface as there is less people, although some rural people still did get burnt out. I escaped getting burnt out, but also self evacuated twice as it looked like a close call.

    There is a probably a strong kernel of truth in the statement that Canada has better forest management than California/Oregon/Wa, since the Western USA has effectually shuttered its forest industry. I practise forestry on over 2000 acres of privately managed forest lands, and while the red tape is getting thicker, the industry hasn’t been shut down yet, so it does allow for harvesting a checker board of clear cuts that do slow down mega fires as it is a matter of fuel supply. But at the end of the day, fire is pretty much weather dependant where there is a fuel supply to burn. Over longer time frames, fire is the rule, not the exception, and I have to keep telling myself that every year that I escape not getting burnt down. At some point, these forests are supposed to burn, as that is how they have evolved for millions of years…a firescape evolved ecology. Humans are just in the way, if not actually starting many of these fires. We have to quit being surprised when they do burn down, as that is the default position on centuries scale. So I very much support an active logging industry, as it artificially mimics fire in long term forest replacement.

    • Well said, Earthling. I would add that for millennia the native people of the boreal forests created a fire mosaic of deliberately burned “yards and corridors” that had much the same effect as modern clearcuts in reducing fire intensity and spread.

      I recommend the research of the late, great Henry T. Lewis of Univ. Alberta for more on this subject.

      I also recommend Stewart, Omer C. with Henry T. Lewis and M. Kat Anderson (eds.). 2002. Forgotten Fires: Native Americans and the Transient Wilderness. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. 364 pages.

  12. I would put a mile-wide firebreak of parkland with occasional trees and pathways around towns in the boreal forest like Slave Lake, Fort McMurray, etc. That would provide a huge improvement in safety from wildfires and would also provide much better grazing for large ungulates. Anyone who has spent much time in the bush knows that it is largely impenetrable and provides poor nourishment – that is why large ungulates typically congregate in cleared areas around human developments.

    No doubt pseudo-environmentalists will take great exception to this proposal – because it makes far too much sense. Nowadays, everything greens touch turns to crap – modern greens can’t run a one-car parade.

    Posted in 2018
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/08/26/climate-change-variability-recurrent-frequencies-and-planning/#comment-2439541

    God forbid that university professors should actually do anything that is of practical importance.

    The universities’ primary function, at least in climate and related biological and social sciences, is the raising of false alarm – such as “we’re all gonna burn!”, and “a biblical plague of locusts will be unleashed upon the land!” – UNLESS you give us a whole lot more grant money to study something so obscure and irrelevant that it has absolutely nothing to do with anything!

    It seems that so many government departments have also taken on this heavy task as well, as they try to demonstrate that they are relevant, or “with it”, or as we say in our nominally bilingual country, “dans le vents”.

    Governments in Canada are so damned overbearing and incompetent that I wish they would just legislate themselves out of existence. Everything governments touch turns to crap – made worse by their over-reaching interference and complete lack of common sense.

    We’ve had two extremely smoky consecutive summers in the West, and it appears to be caused by the adoption of new “green” forestry management practices – where we save a few trees here and there, only to ruin air quality for millions, and burn up forest tracts the size of small states.

    Our kids might as well be smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, given the amount of forest fire smoke we are all exposed to.

    It’s not like we are short of trees in Canada – the four contiguous parks including Banff are bigger than Switzerland. You can fly east-west over SIX Time Zones in Canada and see only trees, but the greens will tell you that every single one of them is precious – but it’s OK to let firestorms get out of control and burn away.

    The loss in 2011 of the Town of Slave Lake to a firestorm taught us nothing – so we almost lost the City of Fort McMurray in 2016 – much of Fort Mac was saved only through the heroic efforts of fire crews.

    In Edmonton, our provincial capital, the lights are on but nobody’s home. Who votes for these imbeciles?

    Maybe it’s just that the smoke is really getting to me – half our summer has been ruined, and these idiots are falsely attributing the problems to climate change, rather than looking in the mirror.

    • Bingo! Parks and golf courses around towns with the forests thinned out would be a great help when places like Slave Lake or Fort Mac are threatened by fire. I think it’s a testament to the incredible incompetence of government that simple measures aren’t put in place to this effect.

    • They haven’t done anything in Slave Lake or Fort McMurray to protect those communities from the next fire, or any other community in northern Alberta.

  13. I don’t think Canada has done virtually anything to manage its forests. We’ve just got lucky with increased rainfall.

  14. I would be very leery of any suggestion we are capable of doing anything “smart” here in Canaduh.

    Maybe you haven’t met our politicians.
    Poster children for virtue signalling idiocy.

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