A two-year interdisciplinary research project titled ‘Living with Wildfire’ is under way at UBC Okanagan, studying the ecological, cultural and socio-economic impacts of wildfires in the Okanagan Valley. A diverse team of UBCO professors from multiple faculties are onboard, working on numerous challenges surrounding the Okanagan wildfires.
Dr. Mathieu Bourbonnais, assistant professor in the UBCO Department of Earth, Environmental, and Geographic Sciences, and his team are constructing several 30-by-30-metre ‘rapid fuel plots’ to enable them to identify the quantities and types of flammable materials spread across various sites across the Okanagan, allowing for a well-informed assessment of wildfire risk.
In addition, Andreas Rutkauskas, lecturer from UBCO’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, is working on raising awareness on wildfires through documenting forest devastation and regeneration on film. Rutkauskas and Master of Fine Arts student Sam Neal are documenting how landscapes not only recover, but thrive after a forest fire.
“The concept of my work isn’t to focus on the immediate aftermath of wildfire, but rather the regeneration — and how forests rebound and respond in the wake of wildfire.”Andreas Rutkauskas
In 2017 and 2018, British Columbia had two of the worst wildfire seasons in its history, with 3,470 wildfires destroying more than 2.5-million hectares.
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The ‘Living with Wildfire’ project is a representation of unwavering commitment by UBC researchers and students in promoting innovation through Strategy 9: Knowledge Exchange.