Sustainable forestry is in our nature

The forests of Alberta are one of the most important natural resources we have. Alberta’s forest companies are committed to making sure that our forests remain sustainable forever.

Reducing Fire Risk

Natural disturbances like fire are part of a forest’s natural life cycle.

But fire can also create air pollution, threaten water supply, and pose a risk to communities and wildlife caught in their path.

In Alberta, we use a combination of strategies to mitigate these risks without losing the benefits of fire for our forests.

Harvesting is a tool that mimics the benefits of fire without the associated safety risks.

Forest Fires and their Impact

Destruction caused by fire does set the stage for renewal – some tree species have even adapted specifically to open their cones and release fire-activated seeds. Fires also clear the forest canopy to let sunlight in and release nutrients that are stored in the material scattered on the forest floor, which stimulates new growth and helps the forest regenerate. These benefits mean that stopping forest fires entirely would be taking away something our forests need.

Healthy fires are a product of a well-balanced landscape through sustainable forest management. These types of fires benefit the ecosystem by providing nutrients to the soil, allowing more sunlight to reach the forest floor, and encouraging the area to adapt to the new environmental conditions. Other characteristics of healthy fires include:

  1. Very small to large
  2. Low to high severity
  3. Lower risk to communities
  4. More likely to be controlled
  5. More likely to be picked where and when
  6. More likely to benefit ecological services

Unhealthy Fires

Although less frequent, when an unhealthy fire takes hold of an area, it is difficult to extinguish the fire. Unhealthy fires can burn so hot and so deep that a forest won't naturally regenerate in that area. Other characteristics of unhealthy fires include:

  1. Often very large
  2. Very high severity
  3. High risk to communities
  4. Difficult to control
  5. Unpredictable location
  6. Ecologically harmful
  7. Can reduce forest productivity
  8. Water quality effects
  9. Excessive ash and debris in watercourses

Creating buffer zones that limit and guide the path of fires also helps protect human structures and communities. Controlled burns and strategic harvesting of older, drier areas that are more susceptible to burning also help reduce the risks associated with fire, without preventing them entirely. Researchers, government, and the forest industry work together to keep people safe while making sure our forests are thriving.