Historical fire regimes, forests, and transitions in the Rocky Mountain Trench


The Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration program hosted an online workshop to explore historical fire regimes and forest composition over the past 600 years in the Rocky Mountain Trench with members of the Tree Ring Lab, led by Dr. Lori Daniels (University of British Columbia, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences).


Greg Greene presented his just completed PhD thesis on fire history and stand reconstructions of dense, valley bottom forests. It covers the fire history of the Trench reaching back to the 1100’s, showing fire return periods, severity of burns, Ktunaxa influences on the historical fire regime, how harvesting and fire exclusion interactively altered the historical fire regime, and the mechanisms of forest densification. Greg’s thesis also delves into the health and productivity of the existing forests on site in the Trench, the interactions between the layers of trees in the forests, and the effects of forest densification on tree health.

Jen Baron presented the study design and initial findings from her PhD thesis exploring 20th Century transitions in fire regimes in the context of historical and modern wildfire. Using fire perimeter records (since 1919), historical aerial imagery (since 1950), and wildfire simulation modelling, she explores how shifting fire regimes and their drivers (fire suppression, forest management, land-use, climate change) manifest on the landscape.