Experts say climate change is driving up the risk of wildfires in Canada


OTTAWA — Canadian wildfire experts say Canada is very vulnerable to the kind of devastating wildfires ravaging Australia right now.

More than 12.5 million hectares of bushland have burned in Australia since October and prime forest-fire season is just now getting underway.

Canada’s worst year for forest fires burned about seven million hectares in 1995, while the average yearly amount burned is about 2.1 million hectares.

Ed Struzik, a fellow at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at Queen’s University, says Canada is just as vulnerable as Australia to massive fires.

Struzik points to climate change, population growth and the amount of potential fuel for fires in Canada’s forests left behind by tree-killing pests like the mountain pine beetle as reasons to be concerned.

University of Alberta wildland fire professor Mike Flannigan says “climate change’s fingerprints are all over these Australian fires” and play the same role in raising the risk in Canada.