A helicopter uses a drip torch to light a controlled burn on a mountainside near Alberta’s Kananaskis Village in 2011. The prescribed burn, which took years of planning, was aimed at reducing the overall fuel load of the forest to lessen the likelihood and severity of a future forest fire, and to create a buffer zone near the village. While scientists aren’t completely sure about how climate change affects forest fires, research shows that the area burned by fire in Canada’s northern boreal forest has steadily increased over the second half of the 20th century. In British Columbia, 2017 and 2018 were the two worst years on record for wildfires in the province. According to Natural Resources Canada, the factors that cause or contribute to forest fires — lightning, low moisture levels, high temperatures, low precipitation and certain types of vegetation — are expected to increase, and the boreal forest, which covers more than half of Canada’s land mass, will likely be the most affected.