Pine-beetle-ravaged forests fuelled 2018 BC wildfires: researchers
A wildfire burns on a logging road approximately 20 km southwest of Fort St. James, B.C., on Wednesday, August 15, 2018. The British Columbia government has declared a provincial state of emergency to support the response to the more than 500 wildfires burning across the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Researchers say clearing or burning beetle ravaged forests may be costly but could prevent massive wildfires like the ones that have scorched huge chunks of British Columbia over the past two summers.
They say much of the woodlands that burned this year had been infested by mountain pine beetles about a decade ago.
The beetle epidemic affected more than 180-thousand square kilometres, while the wildfires burned about 12-thousand square kilometres last year and some 13-thousand this year.
Daniel Perrakis, a fire research scientist with Natural Resources Canada, says removing dead wood from the affected areas would also remove fuel for fires -- the problem is the affected area is huge, and it would take a great deal of money and effort to tackle the job.
Prescribed burns is another option, one that's already being used by neighbouring Alberta.
However, this option comes with risks such as soil degradation, the introduction of invasive species, and choking smoke from the fires.