Canadian Forest Service Publications

Wildfire: a Canadian perspective. 2015. McGee, T.; McFarlane, B.; Tymstra, C. Pages 35-58 (Chapter 3) in D. Paton, editor. Wildfire hazards, risks, and disasters. First edition. Elsevier, New York, N.Y., USA.

Year: 2015

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35781

Language: English

Availability: Not available through the CFS (click for more information).

Price: $129.95 (US Dollars. Purchase at

Mark record


This chapter provides a broad overview of the ecological and social aspects of wildfires, their impacts, and management in Canada. We describe the Canadian fire landscape, including vegetation and fire ecology, with an emphasis on the boreal forest. Wildfire causes and their impacts from past to recent events in 2003 and 2011, and communities at current and future risk of wildfires are described. Wildfire management, including land use, institutions involved in wildfire management, and policies and practices are explained. Wildfire mitigation as practiced by governments and homeowners, community response to wildfire, and relief and recovery following a wildfire are discussed.

Plain Language Summary

This chapter provides an overview of ecological and social aspects of wildfires, as well as their impacts and management in Canada. It describes the Canadian fire landscape, wildfire causes and impacts, and communities at future risk from wildfires. It also explains wildfire management, which involves land use, and policies and practices of several institutions. What happens when wildfire affects human settlement is explored, including wildfire mitigation by governments and homeowners, community response to wildfire, and relief and recovery efforts following a wildfire. The chapter concludes that Canada experiences a high level of wildfire each year, but this has not translated into commensurate loss of homes or damage to communities. However, as populations grow, industrial development expands into forested areas, and climate change alters fire regimes, the risk to communities and infrastructure will likely increase. As wildfire suppression costs escalate, wildfire management agencies are putting more emphasis on mitigating the risk before wildfires occur. The Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy, created in 2005, outlined a vision for the future of wildfire management in Canada. While progress has been made, further efforts are needed to improve collaboration and cooperation across the country, and to increase support for wildfire mitigation efforts by provincial and territorial governments, local governments, communities, and homeowners.