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The CFI Podcast: Michael Benson on wildfire research, response and prevention


June 30, 2020
By CFI Staff

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The latest episode of The CFI Podcast focuses on a very timely subject: wildfire research, response and prevention. Canada’s wildfire season is well underway now, with conditions right to result in severe wildfires across the country. And as we head into the hot summer months, it is bound to become worse.

So, we spoke with Michael Benson, manager of wildfire operations for FPInnovations, to learn more about Canada’s wildfire preparedness and response levels in recent years, the forest industry’s research and response efforts, the impact of good forest management practices, and more.

“By and large Canada really is in a fortunate position in terms of capacity, experience and expertise in the wildfire response field. However, even high reliability organizations have room for improvement,” Benson said.

He called for increased co-operation and communication among the provinces’ different wildfire agencies and between the agencies and forest products companies. Being prepared to answer the call, completing requisite training and communicating with wildfire management agencies before a wildfire event occurs are just some of the things forest companies can do to help minimize the impacts of wildfire.

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“Ultimately, government wildfire agencies and forest companies have the same agenda when it comes to minimizing the impacts of unwanted wildfire, and it’s therefore critical that the two parties work collaboratively toward achieving this common goal,” he said.

Of course, wildfire research and mitigation practices such as commercial thinning and prescribed burning are also critical. But with respect to increasing the prevalence of these practices in western Canada in particular, Benson cautioned that forest products companies need financial incentives, and there is the risk that a prescribed burn will get out of control. But ultimately, reducing the amount of fuel in forests and executing these mitigation efforts will help reduce wildfire severity and thereby improve wildfire agencies’ ability to respond to fires.

Listen to the SoundCloud link below to learn more about the impact of different wildfire research projects, mitigation efforts, the impact of COVID-19 and climate change, and more.

You can also find the episode on iTunes under Annex Business Media: Podcasts or stream it at annexbusinessmedia.com/podcasts.

Have an idea for a podcast episode? Email Ellen Cools at ecools@annexbusinessmedia.com.

Music: www.purple-planet.com