Forest fuel treatments have traditionally been promoted and accepted as a standard approach to reducing fuels to lessen wildfire risk in and around values-at-risk such as communities. Although fuel treatments are commonly understood as a positive measure, the application and effectiveness of these treatments have not been widely studied or documented. The absence of this science limits the ability of forest managers and practitioners to properly justify, prescribe, and conduct forest fuel treatments.
This project considers how stand-thinning affects fire behaviour. Stand-thinning involves the selective removal of overstory stems so that spacing between the remaining crowns is of a specified distance. Empirical research and modelling suggests that reducing the amount of flammable material in the forest canopy will cause a measurable decrease in fire intensity. Past work has shown that increasing the inter-crown spacing to 3m (as recommended by the Partners and Protection FireSmart Manual) can modify fire behaviour to allow successful suppression. Consequently, 3m spacing has been widely accepted by many fire management agencies across Canada. However, in some ecosystems (lodgepole pine stands along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains) 3m crown spacing has led to severe blowdown creating an entirely different fuel hazard and increasing treatment costs. This project will attempt to determine whether closer inter-crown spacing (1m) is sufficient to modify fire behaviour. The project site is located at the Canadian Boreal Community FireSmart Research Site near Fort Providence, NT which consists of Jack Pine and Black spruce.
This project is one part of the Forest Fuel Treatment Study which aims to gain an understanding of the effectiveness of specific forest fuel treatments. The Forest Fuel Treatment Study consists of several projects that will look at the effectiveness of stand-thinning, stand-cleaning, mulching, and under-burning.