Cypress Hills Integrated Forest + Wildfire Management Plan

Client Alberta Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture
Location Cypress Hills | Alberta | Canada

Cypress Hills Provincial Park contains many natural and cultural values that contribute to a unique ecology and a diversity of attractions for park visitors. One of the less obvious features to visitors is the historical role wildfire has played in maintaining the ecological integrity of the Cypress Hills for over 10,000 years. However, recent fire suppression has led to a mature and overmature forest age structure and accompanying increased fuel loads. Current landscape structure combined with a trend of more frequent fire-prone weather poses the risk of a catastrophic wildlife that would place significant values at risk, including human life, public and private infrastructure, biodiversity, and the local tourism economy.

The Integrated Forest and Wildfire Management Strategy was developed to provide science-based strategies to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire, while reestablishing forests with a diversity of age structures that maintain the natural processes and gene pool structure of the Cypress Hills ecosystem. 

Collaborating with internationally renowned fire management specialists, O2 developed a comprehensive report that provides a range of strategies to address both wildfire threats and biodiversity conservation. The report included a baseline analysis of historical fire distribution and current fire regime departure, as well as modelling of potential wildfire spread and associated impacts. A range of management strategies were also proposed, including fine-scale fuel reduction programs, broad-scale landscape management strategies to reduce the fire risk, potential future prescribed burn regimes, wildfire operations strategies and emergency planning. The result was a plan for reducing the risk of wildfire in the park, while simultaneously addressing ecological integrity and landscape value protection.