Recent studies show a link between climate change and wildfires across Canada, with fire risk predicted to increase as temperatures rise. In addition, the forest, parks, and agricultural landscapes of BC are now scattered with subdivisions, campgrounds, ranches, lodges and industrial sites that are vulnerable to wildfire. As a consequence, the urban/forest interface is growing rapidly, and communities across BC – especially in the interior – are implementing preventive forest management practices to reduce the risk of wildfires. These activities are generating woody debris from a reduction in stand density, which traditionally has been burnt on site, but could potentially be used as a substitute for conventional, carbon-intensive energy sources, such as propane or heating oil, in rural communities. At current prices, propane is twice as expensive as wood pellets, if not more in remote areas, and heating oil is even more costly, so that there are both environmental and economic reasons for the use of such woody debris as a source of energy. Intensive biomass extractions, however, could cause a depletion of nutrient pools and reduce forest fertility.
In this talk, Dr. Blanco introduces the first results of a project funded under the PICS Carbon Management in BC Forests theme, that has been implemented by a multi-disciplinary team from UBC, the Community Energy Association and the Green Heat Initiative. Based on ecological modelling and mapping, this project has created a tool that gives rural communities a framework for the potential energy, economical and ecological dimensions of linking bioenergy generation with wildfire prevention.
Dr. Blanco is a Research Associate in the Department of Forest Sciences, University of British Columbia. His work is focused on the development and evaluation of ecological models to simulate the influences of management, climate and other ecological factors on tree growth. His research interests focus on using ecological models to explore the long-term effects of climate change, atmospheric pollution, and alternative forest practices in natural and planted forest in boreal, temperate and tropical forests. His current work focuses on exploring the potential for developing sustainable management for bioenergy production and wildfire prevention that does not compromise long-term ecosystem productivity. In addition, Dr. Blanco has studied the influence of climate variations on tree growth and estimated the potential ecological consequences of climate change in forest ecosystems. He is currently collaborating with research teams from several countries (Canada, USA, Spain, Cuba, China and Taiwan) to calibrate, evaluate and use ecological models for different ecosystems.
This event is part of the Pacific Climate Seminar Series jointly hosted by PICS and the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium.