My sister-in-law lives near Nelson in British Columbia with the looming threat of seasonal fires, smoke and mayhem that it entails. It’s incredibly stressful, especially since it makes you feel so powerless in front of the strength of the inferno. Enormous forest fires weren’t always this bad, and in Prescribed Burn, Xulin Wang takes a look at the very specific history of controlled forest fires in Canada.
I had heard for a long time the term of “pyrodiversity” but didn’t quite know what it entailed. Essentially, it’s the process of harnessing fire, a natural phenomenon, to shape the forest. New growth after a fire is more robust and recovers over time, enhancing the health of the forest. It’s nothing like the devastating fires we’ve seen raging in Canada over the past decade and what we’re witnessing in the Amazon right now.
In Prescribed Burn, Wang tackles the difficult question of the role of fire in rejuvenating forests. This includes a history of how controlled fires were handled over time and the role of indigenous communities in ensuring that they are done properly. The comic also examines the reason why Canada stopped using them. It’s also about how decades of forest mismanagement and climate change has led to our current wildfire crisis, and what we can do better moving forward to protect the environment. It’s a very interesting comic.