Research Projects

A science plan has been developed for the Western Partnership of Wildland Fire Science. This plan describes the science priorities of the Partnership for the next three years but the Plan will be updated every year.

Science Plan

Comparison of Understory Burning and Mechanical Site Preparation to Regenerate Lodgepole Pine Stands Killed by Mountain Pine Beetle

Research Team:  Vic Lieffers ,  Soung-Ryoul Ryu and Derek Mackenzie
Partners:  Alberta Agriculture and Forestry;  Foothills Research Institute
Mountain pine beetle (MPB) has made significant inroads into Alberta.  The MPB killed stand has an open canopy and higher dead fuel loading  compared to lodgepole pine stands that are unaffected by MPB. Many expect that the fire behaviour and stand regeneration pattern will be different from the undisturbed stand. We will conduct understory burning and clear scarification to evaluate the possible regeneration tool and fire behaviour in MPB killed lodgepole pine stand.  Specifically, the objectives of the study are to (1) determine  the efficacy of burning to regenerate lodgepole pine stands killed by MPB, especially in terms of depth of burn and fuel loading. Fire behaviour and pine regeneration will be determined for two ecosites, three levels of stand mortality and at two stages of mortality, (2) determine if burning is superior to mechanical site preparation as a tool for renewal of these stands (comparison will be made in terms of cone density, pine seedling density, nutrient mineralization and vegetation competition), and (3) collect fire behaviour baseline data to verify or adjust the Fire Weather Index System with respect to fuel moisture content in lodgepole stands killed by MPB.


Experimental Determination of Wildland Fire Operating Safety Zone Requirements
Research Team: Mark Ackerman, Andre McDonald and Soung-Ryoul Ryu

Safe operation on the fire line requires a plan for the rare time when conditions change and the fire fighters are at risk of injury or death. Between 1990 and 1998, there were 133 fatalities associated with wildland fire operations in the US. One third of these were associated with entrapment and burnover - a situation where conditions changed and fire fighters were unable to escape. Over the period of 1986 to 2004, there have been 37 fatalities in Canada associated with wildland fire operations. It is clearly required to
increase“awareness of the duty of care to forest firefighters and the need to provide appropriate training”(Bill C-45) (Criminal Liability of Organizations).
The three objectives of the proposed study are;

  1. Evaluation of existing guidelines for safety zones in different fuel types through field measurements of manmade and natural safety zones,
  2. Further knowledge of factors which contribute to fire spread through measurement of fuel consumption in the field during fire passage,
  3. Develop more robust instrumentation that will allow measurements of conditions within the fire and allow refinements of prediction models for spread rates and intensity.

Effects of Climate Change on Wildland Fire Risk in the Okanagan Region 
Research Team: Mike Flannigan, Marc Parisien, Dan Perrakis & Steve Taylor 
Partners: BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations; Canadian Forest Service
 The objective of this project is to perform a simulation study of the effects of predicted climate change on fire risk in the Okanagan region of BC using the Burn P3 modeling system. Study findings will suggest which areas are currently most at risk from wildfire as well as in coming decades.  This work will also provide baseline information that will allow future studies to examine the influence of natural disturbances and how forest management might be able to maintain ecological resilience.

Current and Future Trends in Wind Speed, Relative Humidity and Fire Season Length in Western Canada
Research Team: Mike Flannigan, Cordy Tymstra and Xianli Wang
Partners: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Saskatchewan Research Council
 The objective of this project is to examine the current trends in some key weather  (wind speed and relative humidity) with respect to fire activity and to estimate how these  variables might change in the future due to climate change. Also, we will look at current trend in the length of the fire season and how the fire season length may change as a result of climate change. The results will help land and fire managers determine how fast these  key variables are  currently changing and how fast these variables may change in the future.

Strategic Directions

There are four strategic directions: education, science, scientific applications and communications, and partnerships and collaboration. The theme of excellence threads through these strategic directions to ensure the development of science informed policies, practices and decision support tools.  Teaching and mentoring the next generation of scientists and practitioners will allow Canada to maintain its position as a world leader in fire management. >> View the strategic plan