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Canadians and Wildland Fire: A Shared Risk. A Proposed Comprehensive Assessment of Current and Future Options. Presentation Overview. Federal government interests in wildland fires Canadians at risk from wildfire Current situation Current practices Limitations Risk trends

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Canadians and Wildland Fire: A Shared Risk

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    Presentation Transcript
    1. Canadians and Wildland Fire: A Shared Risk A Proposed Comprehensive Assessment of Current and Future Options

    2. Presentation Overview • Federal government interests in wildland fires • Canadians at risk from wildfire • Current situation • Current practices • Limitations • Risk trends • Proposal for a national analysis towards a new paradigm based on risk management and hazard mitigation

    3. Wildland Fire: Federal Interests Safety of Canadians and Communities • The 2003 wildfires had an unprecedented impact on the citizens of Canada • Example: British Columbia • 38 communities at risk • 300+ homes lost • 30,000+ residents evacuated • Personal property damage > $100 M • Federal disaster relief payment could exceed $200M

    4. Wildland Fire: Federal Interests Federal Involvement in Forest Fires • Parks Canada – responsible for fire management • DND – emergency assistance; suppression agreements on DND lands • OCIPEP – disaster relief payments • Indian and Northern Affairs – suppression agreements on First Nations lands • Environment Canada – meteorological services • NRCan-CFS • S&T • National information monitoring • Fire behaviour expertise • Major contributor (1/3rd) to CIFFC

    5. Wildland Fire: Federal Interests • International Issues • International agreements on climate change, biodiversity, indicators of sustainability • Smoke transport trans-border (US relations) • Forest sector competitiveness influenced due to impacts on wood supply • Health • Air and water quality • National Issues • CCFM (5-Point Plan) • SK Crown Investment Corporation • CIFFC BoCT

    6. Wildland Fire: Federal Interests • Relevance to Speech from the Throne • Communities • Aboriginals • Science and Technology • Building a 21st Century Economy • Sustainable Development/Climate Change “Safeguarding our natural environment - in the here and now, and for generations to come - is one of the great responsibilities of citizens and governments in the 21st century.” SFT 2004

    7. Fires larger than 200 ha - 1980-89 Canadians at Risk from Wildfire • Current Situation • Number of fires = 8500 fires/yr • Area burned - 2.5 million ha/yr • (highly episodic 0.3M-7.5M/yr) • Large fires dominate landscape • (3% > 200 ha = 97% area burned and 80% of cost) • Fire management expenditures = $500M-900M/year in Canada • Individual agency expenditures can vary >5-fold from year to year • Wildfires contribute a significant proportion to Canada’s GHG emissions (upto 80% of fossil fuel emissions in extreme years)

    8. Canadians at Risk from Wildfire • Wildland-Urban Interface fires • influence thousands of Canadians each year • have significant social and economic impacts • potential for loss of life is rising • Some Recent Incidents • Kelowna/Barriere, BC (2003) • Hillcrest/Blairmore, AB (2003) • Turtle Lake, SK (2002) • Chisholm, AB (2001) • Burwash Landing, YK (1999) • La Ronge, SK (1999) • Beardmore, ON (1999) • Shelburne County, NS (1999) • Badger, NF (1999) • Salmon Arm, BC (1998) • Swan Hills, AB (1998) • Granum, AB (1997) • Timmins, ON (1997) • Ft. Norman, NT (1995) • N&S Manitoba (1989) Aboriginal communities are particularly vulnerable

    9. Canadians at Risk from Wildfire Current Response • Municipalities are responsible for wildfire suppression in rural and urban areas • Crown land • Provinces and territories • Federal gov’t (Parks Canada, INAC, DND, OCIPEP (during emergencies)) • All agencies have policies to protect life, property, and natural resources (but order of importance varies) • Filmon Report on 2003 BC Wildfires indicates a need to move beyond suppression to hazard mitigation and risk management • California – Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission focusing primarily on changing land management practices

    10. Level of Protection Analysis For Ontario Low fixed cost High fixed cost Canadians at Risk from Wildfire Current Response - Limitations Fire suppression is approaching its limit of economic and physical effectiveness 2-4% of wildfires will continue to escape initial attack

    11. Canadians at Risk from Wildfire Current Response - Limitations • Policies are primarily reactive and tactical based on technical knowledge and experience in wildfire suppression • Limited focus on managing risk in a strategic and integrated manner (e.g., building codes, municipal zoning, land-use planning) • Capabilities and equipment of fire management agencies/organizations varies considerably • Relief payments to Canadians impacted by disasters may actually increase risk (moral hazard)

    12. Risk Trends • Social and Economic • Faster population growth in wildland-urban interface areas • Increased smoke impact on health • Spiraling and more variable fire management costs • Reduced wood supply • Increased likelihood of “company ending events”

    13. Annual Area Burned (%) 1959-99 Risk Trends Climate Change – 50% increase in forest fire activity is projected by 2050 “hot spots” are likely to get hotter • Longer fire season • More extreme fire weather/danger • Heavier fuel loads • Increased ignitions (lightning and human-caused) • More extreme fire behaviour (higher fire intensity, more crowning) • More escape wildfires • Larger area burned

    14. Examples of Key Questions • Are current government expenditures having the maximum possible impact? • What are the true costs of forest fires on industry and the economy? • What are the social costs associated with property and income losses and health effects from smoke? • Are provincial and federal policies and roles adequate to deal with the challenge of balancing the social, economic, and ecological impacts of fire? • Are there ways to share the risk associated with wildland-urban interface fires? • Can hazard mitigation strategies be used to proactively reduce the threats posed by wildfires?

    15. Proposal NRCan-CFS lead a national analysis of wildfire management in Canada resulting in the production of a Green Paper • Purpose - examine and develop options to reduce the risk from wildfire to Canadians • Elements of the analysis and discussion paper would include: • Adequacy of current policies • Detailed assessment of risk trends to Canadians • Condition of the current infrastructure • Economics of wildfire management • Evaluation of other risk management and hazard mitigation models • Options for improvement

    16. Preliminary Thoughts Considerations • Shift mindset from suppression to hazard mitigation • Focus on risk management (linked to levels of responsibility) • Enhance financial planning, accountability, and sustainability • Incorporate best practices from around the world

    17. Moving Forward - Phased Approach • Preliminary discussions with other federal departments • Assemble background information on state of the current policies, infrastructure, and science • Engage in a dialogue with provinces and territories (CCFM DMs meeting in June) • Expand discussions to include municipalities and industries • Complete analysis and produce Green Paper • Facilitate national discussion

    18. Discussion