A new research chair at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) is being funded by the province as B.C. works towards improving the ability to forecast, prevent and respond to wildfires emergencies.
Provincial funding of $5 million for an endowment will pay for the position of British Columbia Research Chair in Predictive Services, Emergency Management and Fire Science.
The position will be at TRU’s Kamloops campus, which is near Emergency Management BC (EMBC) and BC Wildfire Service operational centres.
“Interior communities have worked together to advocate for additional research and capacity to help better understand wildfires, in order to protect their residents, infrastructure, and economies. We’re answering the call to action with this research position,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
“This is one more step we’re taking to help keep British Columbians safe.”
The chair’s research will support wildfire data modelling in the heart of wildfire country, the provincial government said. It will also help explore the relationship between climate change and its effect on wildfire risk.
“Applied research is a critical tool to help build our capacity to understand and address the challenges of ecological threats in B.C.,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “This new research chair adds to the world-class research done at B.C.’s post-secondary institutions and will create new collaborations, including with local First Nations to integrate traditional ecological knowledge. Their intimate and longstanding relationship to the land has given them unique, local knowledge about managing wildfires.”
The first appointment to the research chair at TRU is anticipated later this year.
The province said in 2017 wildfires and floods cost the province $1.6 billion, prompting an independent review by former MLA George Abbott and Maureen Chapman, hereditary Chief of the Sq’ewá:lxw (Skawahlook) First Nation in 2018.
The government updates to the Abbott-Chapman Report can be found here.