Bioenergy is a viable solution to BC's Wildland-Urban Interface fuels problem; however, a number of policy changes are needed first
Keywords:bioenergy, wildland-urban interface, wildfire threat, climate change, fuels
We have an increasing wildfire risk to communities of the province that is not being effectively addressed by the current hazard reduction program. Existing planning and remediation efforts are a small fraction of what is required given the march of climate change, the steady accumulation of forest fuels in the WUI and the large number of affected communities. The greatest barrier to an adequate response is the high cost of initial and recurring treatments, dependent primarily on tax funds from senior governments, and the lack of a policy framework that makes it possible to earn offsetting revenues from remedial work. Continuing on this trajectory will bring the predictable results of increasingly frequent and increasingly severe interface fires. A solution to this impasse is a major departure from current policy and practice; it is an attempt to turn an economic barrier into an economic advantage by converting a fuel surplus from a costly burden to a commercially valuable energy source. Because the proposal affects the legislated jurisdictions of communities, the tenure rights of existing industry, the encouragement of a new energy industry, the revision of silvicultural requirements, the linked use of merchantable timber and lower value biomass, expanding the carbon offset regime and sensitivity to international timber pricing agreements it is a formidable challenge to our current forest administration. Such a bold transformation likely cannot be approached piecemeal nor can it be applied province-wide without practical trial.
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