Book: A Continent Transformed by Wildfire

Here’s a review of a book that may be of interest to forest planners and other denizens of TSW, even if it has a focus on Canada: A Continent Transformed by Wildfire, Then and Now. Subtitle: ‘Dark Days at Noon’ author Ed Struzik on fire deniers, ‘pyro’ storms, a boreal forest ‘born to burn’ and more.


You write a lot about Indigenous burning and how agencies like the national parks services on both sides of the border evicted Indigenous people from parks and protected areas — the topic of tomorrow’s Tyee excerpt from your book.

Indigenous fires reduced the amount of fuel on the ground for future fires to burn. With the end of this light burning and the strategy of full suppression that followed in and around 1910, we stacked up the woodpile, so to speak, to feed fire. Kicking Indigenous people out of national parks and protected areas because they burned lightly to regenerate grass for bison and young aspen for ungulates — there were other reasons — was unconscionable.

How do we get fire back on the landscape in a way that is beneficial rather than destructive?

We have to do more of the light burning that Indigenous people practiced. We also have to thin the forests that surround many communities in Canada. I would go as far as to suggest that cities such as Edmonton with urban forests that have not seen fire in more than a century, consider the idea before out-of-control fires come to them.


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