The forest that surrounds us is part of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Forest Region. The most common species of trees are hardwoods with a scattering of conifers. Unlike Australia’s Eucalyptus forests, our hardwood forests are not easy to burn. We are also blessed with well-distributed rainfall so that the branches and leaves on the forest floor do not get dry and inflammable except for a short period in the spring before the ground vegetation sprouts new leaves. If there is going to be a fire in our woods it will likely happen during that short period in the spring. It is unlikely that changes in climate and weather patterns will create serious changes to the pattern and number of fires in the woods around us.

Forest fires in Canada are usually caused by lightning. There is very little deliberate arson. We do have fires caused by lack of care; people burning branches and other debris during the spring and allowing the fire to spread into dry grass and into the woods. Local regulations require all landowners to inform the fire department of intent to burn debris. They will tell you the danger rating and give permission to burn, or refuse permission if conditions are dry and fires are likely to spread. Call 450-242-1222 for information on danger levels and permission before you light a fire.

Forest Fires across Canada: During the past 20 years the average area lost to fire is 2.3 million ha/yr. The worst year during this period was 2014 when 4.5 million ha burned. The lowest loss to fire was during 2001 when 0. 6 million ha burned. Forest fires are a natural feature of our forest ecosystems. Most fires occur in the northern and western coniferous forests.