As Canada and the United States continue to feel the long-term effects of the wildfires raging in the Great White North, environmental experts are pushing for long-term changes that they say can minimize the damage. damage from future fires.
And with climate change making these unprecedented wildfires commonplace, those experts say governments on both sides of the border need to act quickly.
“It’s a problem because we don’t have a strong enough federal government and it leaves us in disarray,” Robert Gray, a British Columbia wildfire ecologist, told ABC News. right now.
Gray, who has studied wildfires in both the United States and Canada, said higher temperatures and dry conditions have made land in the eastern Canadian wilderness more vulnerable to wildfires.
Even a flash of lightning hitting a tree or bush can be detrimental because more wood is available to keep the fire burning for a long time.
“These fires are rekindling past fires that have not been around for a long time,” he said. “The tree fell and could basically burn again.”
Regarding the current situation, some experts said that the terrain and severity of the fire made it difficult to extinguish quickly.
“Due to the scale of the fires, weather will be the only thing currently that can put them out. That means heavy rain and, in some areas, possible snowfall,” Gray said.
John Gradek, a faculty member and program coordinator for McGill University’s aviation management program, told ABC News that Canada does not have a unified government agency that manages the country’s forests and disaster management. occurred in many provinces.
Those responsibilities rest with the governments of each province, and therefore, he said, there is no concerted effort between Quebec and Ontario given the current situation.
But even without that national oversight, Gradek says emergency response teams can begin to implement mitigation techniques that have been shown to limit wildfires.
For example, in locations like British Columbia, California and Colorado, where there is more experience with large wildfires, forestry teams will control the fires to clear the bush early in the season, Gradek said. .
“In the wilds of the Quebec forests, there is no regulated program to clear the forest floor,” he said.
Gradek says government groups can also plan ahead for warmer months by deploying flame retardants from the air to reduce the risk of spreading when wildfire season begins.
Negar Elhami-Khorasani, an associate professor of civil, structural, and environmental engineering at the University of Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Science, told ABC News that local and federal governments should at the very least come up with recommendations. policies and strategies that give fair warning about the dangers of wildfires.
Similar to hurricane plans near coastal cities, Elhami-Khorasani said it wouldn’t take too much time or resources to warn residents who live and work near wildfire-prone areas in the country. Canada on the dangers of wildfire season.
“Before the event, completing a risk assessment and creating tools to predict what might happen can guide mitigation actions,” she added.
Gray emphasized that increased wildfire is a multinational problem across North America and that both the United States and Canada need to prioritize wildfire mitigation in all areas of the country as he anticipates that seasonal events This summer will become more popular.
“There is a political will to do this, and there is an outcry in the US that is sparking news of the impact,” he said.