Wildfire risk reduction project supports BC’s bioenergy industry

A $1 million (€695,000) wildfire risk reduction project in British Columbia has also supported the local bioenergy industry.

The Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) funded the project to protect high-risk areas as outlined in the District of Sicamous’ (DOS) Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

“The 2021 wildfires throughout the province and in our area were an eye-opener for many in the community,” said Steve Giesbrecht, RPF, natural resources manager at Landmark Solutions, one of the firms involved in the project.

“We had started work back in the fall of 2020 by thinning trees and cleaning up ladder fuels and though this summer’s Two Mile Road fire may enter our treatment areas. In the end, it didn’t, but confirmed the importance of the work we’re doing to reduce the risk of a catastrophic wildfire because we know that if we can keep fires lower to the ground and out of the tops or the crown, we give firefighters a better chance to control a wildfire.”

The work will help to protect important infrastructure like a water reservoir owned by the DOS, as well as vital transportation corridors.

“The fuel management work we’re doing with FESBC funding is very selective,” added Giesbrecht. “The prescription focuses on reducing ground fuels and understory trees, plus pruning and selective thinning of mature conifers resulting in a more open forest with a park-like aesthetic.”

One benefit for the DOS is the opportunity to utilise the forest fibre generated by Nakimu Venture’s work. Some debris (biomass) is being chipped and hauled to River City Fibre in Kamloops to be utilised for bioenergy conversion, which will reduce the amount of carbon being realised into the atmosphere compared to burning debris piles, therefore reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

“From the start, the district’s fire chief Brett Ogino has been keen on the idea of ‘waste not, want not’ when it came to the work,” said Giesbrecht. “Maximising the utilisation of the wood fibre is an innovative way to be good stewards of the land.”

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