Canadian News Nov 19, 2020 5:29 PM EST

Forest fires in Canada peaked in 1989 and have been on 'substantial' decline in recent years, says new study

The study says that the six worst years of forest fires in terms of total area burned all occurred before the year 2000.

Forest fires in Canada peaked in 1989 and have been on 'substantial' decline in recent years, says new study
Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal, QC
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A new study from the Fraser Institute has found that Canada's forest fire activity has decreased substantially over the last 30 years.

The findings are consistent with those around the rest of the world, says Robert P. Murphy, a senior fellow with the Fraser Institute.

Forest fire activity in Canada has been decreasing over the last 30 years, along with the rest of the world, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“Contrary to popular misperceptions, forest fire activity in Canada is on the decline over the last three decades, and that is consistent with global fire activity,” said Murphy in a news release.

The study examined data from six decades of government data from 1959 to 2019, and found a positive trend in the annual number of total hectares burned and number of fires.

"The first half of this period shows a sharp trend increase while the second half shows a trend decline. In fact, forest fire activity across the nation as a whole was significantly worse in the late 1980s through the mid-1990s, having reached its peak and maximum area burned in 1989," the study says.

In 1989, 12,015 fires ravaged 7.6 million hectares throughout Canada. In 2019, 4,062 fires burned 1.8 million hectares.

The study says that the six worst years of forest fires in terms of total area burned all occurred before the year 2000.

“It is wrong to say that forest fire activity is on the rise in Canada, as the last 30 years will tell us,” Murphy said.

“Though there are important regional differences to recognize and better understand.”

Despite the overall drop, fires have been more common in areas such as British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, which have experienced record-highs in fire activity over the last few years.

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