Thompson Rivers University will be welcoming a new faculty member who has been granted a Canadian Research Chair in Fire Ecology.
Dr. Jill Harvey will be investigating how wildfires and droughts impact the BC Interior’s forests.
Harvey is setting up a program to study past wildfires with two themes of research. She says the first is historical wildfires, and understanding how often and what areas are affected, as well as climate conditions associated with past wildfires. The second theme of the research will look at recent wildfires, and how those forests are recovering, and the role of drought in wildfires.
Harvey says she will be looking into the 2017 wildfires but hasn’t decided on a specific fire to research.
Harvey, along with both undergraduate and graduate students, will do vegetation surveys, and will be mapping vegetation, and measuring trees, but will also be looking at something that just about everyone knows about.
“Tree rings are a fascinating research approach because it’s something that everyone’s familiar with, at some point,” Harvey says, “We can actually measure the width of the tree rings, we can look at the cells within the tree rings to determine little pieces of information about what the climate conditions were like in that year the tree put on that ring, It can tell us information about insect outbreaks in some tree species.”
Harvey says she is hoping this research will give a better understanding of future wildfires.
“By knowing the patterns of past wildfires, we’re given clues about how forests have responded to these fires in the past,” Harvey explains, “when we consider the context of future climate warming and drying, these clues from the past will help us understand how forests will respond to greater fire activity in the future. So I hope these insights could be used like puzzle pieces to figure out how to best manage forests.”
Harvey says she is hoping the community will get involved, and reach out and express their interest in the research.