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BC's Balancing Act: Forest Fires, Ecology, Smoke and Health

Dialogue Debate
Nov 5 2015 - 7:00pm

Fire is an essential ecological process for many ecosystems in British Columbia, yet our burning forests result in human health and other serious costs. Join Meg Krawchuk, SFU and Sarah Henderson, UBC as they discuss the pros and cons of forest fires in the context of climate change and human health impacts.

Meg Krawchuk will highlight where, how and why wildfires play a key role in forested landscapes, amid our contemporary socio-cultural concerns about too much or too little wildfire. She will identify the drivers of wildfire occurrence, and share information about the early successional forest communities that thrive once the fire is out. Sarah Henderson shares what is known about the health impacts of forest fire smoke, and will introduce the BC Asthma Monitoring System (BCAMS), which was used by the BC Centre for Disease Control to track smoke exposures and their impacts on a daily basis through the smoky summer of 2015.

Live Web Stream: BC's Balancing Act: Forest Fires, Ecology, Smoke and Health Webcast


Meg Krawchuk is Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Krawchuk's work focuses on landscape ecology, pyrogeography, and conservation science - looking at biophysical controls over ecological phenomena.  Using a geographic lens, Meg has worked at scales from local to global, addressing the drivers and effects of ecological disturbances with a primary interest in wildfire.  Recent investigations include ideas of predictable fire refugia within burn mosaics of western North American forests, ecological implications of overlapping short-interval disturbances such as insect outbreaks, forest harvest, and wildfire in British Columbia, and spatially varying constraints over contemporary patterns in burning, for British Columbia and globally.  Dr. Meg Krawchuk currently leads the Landscape and Conservation Science Research Group at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada but will be moving the lab to Oregon State University in January 2016.

Sarah Henderson is the senior environmental health scientist at the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and Assistant Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. Her mandate is to conduct applied environmental health research to support the development and implementation of good environmental health policy for the province. Sarah has been studying forest fire smoke for more than a decade. Following the extreme fire season of 2003 she conducted her doctoral research on the public health impacts of forest fire smoke across the province. She conducted her post-doctoral research at the Menzies Institute in Tasmania, studying the health impacts of forest fire smoke in Australia and around the world. Since joining the BCCDC she has led a wide range of research and surveillance to better understand smoke exposure and its impacts in the BC population, and to help mitigate its effects.