Indigenous fire keepers and ecologists say it’s time to light a careful fire to calm wildfires

Swinging a dripping torch, Joe Gilcrest lit a Saj brush this afternoon, near Savona, northwest of Campus. B.C.

Within seconds, an angry crack erupts into an orange flame tongue, in central B.C. Fluorescent in the dusty landscape of Sketchestn India Reserve

Gilcestre – Fire Protection – Prepares fires to fight wildfires and “clear” the ground.

It is one of the 20 members of the growing Salish Firefighters Association and is part of a growing movement. Indigenous educators and fire ecologists are developing an ancient practice that was banned during the colonial period, with at least one firefighter hanging to burn.

Firefighter Joe Gilchrist shows how he started a cultural fire in a slick brush pile near Savona, BC. (Harold Duceis / CBC / Green Week)

In June, British Columbia set aside $ 359 million for future wildlife conservation, and invested $ 1.2 million in projects this year. The district said it supports cultural incineration, which is enshrined in the Indigenous Rights Action Plan (UNDRIP).

But fire ecologists say support is declining and plans to burn it often fail due to delays in approval.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of land were deliberately burned each year, but now no more than 10,000 hectares are burned for public protection.

Over the past two years, the Ministry of Forestry has doubled its fire projects – from 33 to 69 between 2021 and 2022. A total of 9,100 hectares were planned for this year, but not all were affected by the weather. Or safety issues.

The ministry said it supports indigenous-led incineration, which is eligible for funding under the Community Resilience Initiative, and that the district has worked with first governments in Fraser Canyon, Okanagan, Cutenis, Caribo and Chilkotin, and Pemberton Valley. .

But firefighters say support is very limited.

“Commitment was really low, but I think it was growing,” says Gilcrest.

Firefighters and ecologists say the district has one of the biggest wildfires recorded in 2018 – with more than a million hectares burned – and much to be done.

Use fire to fight fire

A.D. The record-breaking heat wave in 2021 has exacerbated the situation. A year ago, the temperature in Litton B.C. rose to 49.6 degrees Celsius, and two wildfires killed the community before it engulfed the community.

Fire scientists say Canada is now learning more than any other wildfire on the planet.

Firefighter Joe Gilcrest uses a dripping torch to start a fire in Savona, BC (Harold Duceis / CBC / Green Week)

To prevent wildfires, traditional or indigenous fires are returning from California to Australia, increasing the severity of wildfires that make winter warmer and drier.

Gilcrest said that the fire, which was controlled by the fire, would help reduce the fire.

“It will only accumulate if it is not burned.”

“It only takes lightning or human hazards.”

Controlled fires help to stabilize wildfires

Baritone’s “old man in training” warns visitors to look at the long grass that has grown in the two months since it was burned in April. It creates a greenhouse that will reduce any wildfires.

(Andrew Lee / CBC)

“Indigenous use of fire must be legal. Burning in the forest is not a bad thing. We are not trying to kill trees.

Robert Gray, a Chilean wildfire ecologist, said “cultural fires have been going on for hundreds of thousands of years” and have helped Indigenous communities improve and prosper.

Traditionally, indigenous firefighters – often hereditary – can further inflame the flames of a litter. This was done to restore crops and grazing land and for security. Examples of the procedure can be found around the world.

“We need to significantly increase the speed and scale of traditional and ordered firefighting,” Gray said.

Training, financial support is urgently needed

But Gray said he would need at least 17 specially trained teams to burn even 50,000 acres[50,000 ha]in the next decade.

He said Canada is far behind the United States, with an average of 150,000 ordered fires each year, covering four to six million acres and with very few fire escapes.

Firefighter Joe Gilcrest at Savona, BC Sketchestn Indian Reserve in Central B.C. The area burned in April was rich green in June. (Yvette Brend / CBC News)

When settlers arrived in the 19th century BCE, local fires were banned, but fires continued.

Over the past half-century, forest land has often been cut down and burned for tree planting or a clear brush for safety.

In recent years, guides have been burned to create a better wildlife habitat.

A.D. In the 1970s and 1980s, up to 100,000 hectares were burned annually, but this has fallen to less than 10,000 hectares a year over the past decade, according to state data.

Lessons from Australia

William Nikolaiikis, a native of Australia, is the director-general of the Voice of America, a coalition of governments working to rebuild state power. Assistant Professor of Forestry at the University of British Columbia says that the most exposed fires on the planet are “cool” or controlled fires that renew indigenous knowledge.

Former United States President Russell Myers Ross in April in a scorching fire near Lake Williams, BC. (Joshua Nufeld)

“Fire is a tool used all over the world – the act is lost in many ways and only stopped because of people and property,” explains Nicolas.

Over the past decade, domestic fire-fighting projects in Australia have burned thousands of people in more than 17 million hectares of northern Australia’s land and hired millions of dollars in Australian carbon credit units.

Here BC since 2019, the assembly voice has worked with Tŝilhqot’in Nations of Yunesit’in and Xeni Gwet’in. They burn 15 to 250 acres[15 to 250 ha]a year.

Nikolakis said the community had brought in Victor Stefensen, a burning Australian, to help with the training.

Russell Myers Ross works with workers on a traditional fire near the United Nations Cultural Lands near Lake Williams BC. (Joshua Nufeld)

“We were eight-year-olds, nine people came out and set fire to the ground, to clear the landscape, to remove the dry grass, to dig up dead trees. Make it healthy,” said Nicolas.

Fire escape is a “slow and careful” process because it is always a concern.

However, Nicolas said that due to lack of funding and severe approval processes, many parts of the BC could not be burned, and indigenous communities were often vulnerable to fires, floods, and extreme climate change.

Beyond community safety

Russell Meyer Ross, president of the United Nations First Nation for eight years, grew up in the Middle Ages. He says that wildfires have changed the lives of many people near Lake Williams.

He says finding fires in the spring and fall often takes long and crucial windows.

“We have the opportunity to restore areas that have not been cared for for a long time,” said Myers Ross, his daughter and the elders, all of whom are involved in traditional burning projects.

He says it is a way to “clear” the land and restore its maintenance role.

“Our ancestors did this. The main problem is that we have been working since we met or when our communities were disrupted.”

A.D. During the 2021 fires, a black burnt forest is covered with green carpets and is bounded by lupins near Cold Water Creek in June 2022, south of Campus. (Yvette Brend / CBC News)

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