Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy: a 10-year review and renewed call to action.

Published online
22 Mar 2017
Published by
Canada, Canadian Council of Forest Ministers
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Over the past 10 years, Canada has witnessed a serious and sustained increase in extreme wildland fire behaviour and wildland-urban interface (WUI) events resulting in threats to life, property and natural resource values being amplified. Impacts to people and communities across the country are increasing. While Canada is internationally renowned for its wildland fire response capabilities, Canadian jurisdictions are reaching the limits of what existing suppression resources can achieve. The success with suppression should not be understated, but managing wildland fire in the face of growing challenges will continue to put increasing pressure on suppression capacity. Effort needs to be made toward increasing this capacity. An equivalent focus and commitment must also be made toward the shared responsibility for, and marked progress on, prevention, mitigation and preparedness. In 2005, the Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy (CWFS) predicted a number of the challenges men are now experiencing such as more extreme fire behaviour, increasing wildland fire impacts, increasing effects of climate change and eroding response capacity. While all jurisdictions have made progress on various aspects of the CWFS, advancement has been slower and more costly than originally envisioned. Substantial resourcing has gone into initiatives that support its strategic objectives; however, actions and investments have been somewhat ad hoc and not always strategically coordinated. A lack of standardized reporting makes it difficult to attribute actions and progress. Circumstances such as climate change, aging infrastructure, increasing industrial development and an expanding WUI have increased implementation costs. As a result, strategic, coordinated and targeted efforts are required or Canada will find itself in a situation where challenges exceed capacity. Prepared on behalf of the Wildland Fire Management Working Group (WFMWG) established under the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM), this report provides a 10-year update on the progress made on the CWFS, outlines required next steps and serves as a renewed call to action. The purpose of this report is not to rewrite the strategy or revisit its goals or objectives since they remain as relevant today as when written. Rather, the purpose of this document is to re-engage senior officials, identify priorities for a renewed emphasis on implementation and enhance horizontal integration plus collaboration so as to reinvigorate the strategy and further realize its goals and objectives.

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