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DATE: July 28, 2019

SNIP: Certain tree species are having a tough time growing back in areas that have been affected by wildfires due to warming temperatures — a discovery that could have major implications for both the forestry sector and long-term climate change targets.

A 2017 study of nearly 1,500 sites charred by 52 wildfires in the U.S. Rocky Mountains found that lower elevation trees had a tough time naturally regenerating in areas that burned between 2000 and 2015 compared with sites affected between 1985 and 1999, largely due to drier weather conditions.

More recently, a 2019 study found that both Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine seedlings in the Idaho’s Rocky Mountains — just south of B.C. — were also struggling in low-lying burned areas due to warmer temperatures, leading to lower tree densities.

Many similar forests facing the same challenges in B.C.’s Southern Interior, while repeat wildfires in the province are likely also to inhibit regrowth in many areas.

As a result, some ecosystems will no longer be able to support tree species. Instead they may convert to grasslands.