Elder Darlene Vegh

Elder Darlene Vegh

Fighting fire with food

Restoring healthy burn cycles alongside plants that mediate fire.

Fire is integral to healthy ecosystems in British Columbia. But a history of suppressing good fire – combined with climate change – has led to more frequent and disruptive wildfire. At the same time, the absence of fire has altered the land and plant life which animals and humans rely upon. For example the past five years have seen the worst fire seasons to date, with more than 3.5 million hectares of forest burned, of which two million hectares were in northern BC.

Although Indigenous fire stewardship practices were largely banned early last century, many Nations across British Columbia are returning to the practices to increase food security and restore community health and wellbeing.   

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions is funding research to restore cultural fire regimes and ecosystem-based management to the land.  The project Fighting Fire With Food explores how planting, tending, and burning fire-resistant vegetation increases the biodiversity of ecosystems, buffers against a rapidly changing climate, and protects cultural, ecological, and social values while mitigating wildfire risk.

Researchers: Lori Daniels, Kira Hoffman

Collaborating Organizations: University of British Columbia, Gitanyow Nation, Gitanyow Lax’yip Stewardship Guardians