Forest area burned

Elk Island National Park

For years, many people thought all wildfires were destructive and worked hard to suppress them. Scientists have since learned what Indigenous people have known for centuries: fire is a healthy part of grassland and forest ecosystems. Fire is a naturally occurring phenomenon that plays a role in overall health of forests. Fire reduces forest canopy and promotes new growth by allowing more sunlight to reach the forest floor, adds nutrients to forest soils, reduces parasite load and create diverse forest habitats for birds, animals, and insects.

Each year the total area of Elk Island National Park that has been disturbed by both natural and prescribed fire is determined. This data is compared to historical records and is used to determine if the forest is regenerating at a healthy rate.

Current fire management practice in Elk Island National Park is to protect neighboring residents and communities by containing wildfires within the park. The focus of wildfire management is to protect human life first, followed by cultural assets, private property and park infrastructure. Parks Canada staff also perform prescribed fires in many national parks to return this regenerative processes to forest and grassland ecosystems.

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