Over the last century, human activity and policy has altered the natural disturbance regimes and ecological processes that have historically maintained the integrity of our ecosystems. Policies, management or inactivity associated with urban development, resource harvesting, agriculture, range use, and wildfire suppression have impacted natural ecosystem succession. As such, negative ecological effects are being expressed within forested stands, including fuel accumulations, forest disease and insect outbreaks as well as unstable wildlife populations.
Hazardous fuel accumulations in our forests have become a growing concern and can contribute to severe wildfires. These wildfires can pose a risk to structures and human lives, impact wildlife populations and their habitat, damage soils, increase erosion, degrade water quality and increase air pollution. Strategic plans and prescriptions to abate fuelhazards and fire risk should not aim to eliminate wildfire but rather to reduce the fire behaviour and potential negative impacts on the ecosystem. Such a strategy will allow for the natural ecological benefits of wildfire with less or none of the consequences.