Fire recycles nutrients in the soil, encourages new plant growth, controls invasive alien species, and creates important habitat for birds and animals. For decades, fire was actively suppressed in national parks to reduce the threats to public safety and infrastructure. This practice resulted in significant habitat changes, including the accumulation of dead wood and debris, which can lead to more intense wildfires.
Parks Canada has reintroduced fire in the form of prescribed burns, to restore and maintain ecosystems and to reduce the risk of wildfires around critical areas such as town sites. Climate models predict increased occurrences and intensity of wildfires, which Parks Canada has acknowledged will challenge fire management.
An additional challenge is the availability of sufficient human resources to meet the needs of Parks Canada’s fire management program. The Agency’s 2010 National Fire Management Plan indicates that “staff noted an increasing difficulty mobilizing Incident Management Teams and other human resources to manage wildfire incidents and prescribed fire projects.” The Plan also notes that “as the demand for human resources increases through escalating wildfire incidence and severity, and through ‘Action on the Ground’ fire restoration projects, future shortages are likely.”