JEAN MORIN, fire man­age­ment of­fi­cer

Canadian Geographic - - WOOD BUFFALO - —As told to Nick Walker

Wild­fires have been shap­ing the land­scape of the park for thou­sands of years. It’s a fire-prone, fire-de­pen­dent ecosys­tem larger than Switzer­land, so we can let some fires go with min­i­mum in­ter­fer­ence, which ben­e­fits the land­scape and helps main­tain eco­log­i­cal in­tegrity. Fire sea­son re­ally starts when light­ning sea­son starts, usu­ally in late spring. Depend­ing on how much it rains later in the sea­son, about 500 square kilo­me­tres is burned ev­ery year by an av­er­age of 31 fires, and I would say 99 per cent are light­ning-caused. We do smoke-pa­trol flights to mon­i­tor fires; we sup­press them near road­ways, fa­cil­i­ties and com­mu­ni­ties; and we ig­nite our own fires when nec­es­sary to kill the mo­men­tum of wild­fires by bring­ing them to nat­u­ral fea­tures, such as wa­ter sources or bogs, on our own terms.


Clock­wise from this im­age: a for­est fire is left to burn; pine cones, which don’t re­lease their seeds un­til trig­gered by fire; birds feed on the shore of Lake Claire; the salt plains.

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