Forestry and wildfire management has four distinct phases that create the wildfire management process. These phases are mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery. Over the last century, human activity and policy has altered the natural disturbance regimes and ecological processes that have historically maintained the integrity of our ecosystems. Development policies, management or inactivity associated with urban development, resource harvesting, agriculture, range use and wildfire suppression has all impacted natural ecosystem succession. As such, negative ecological effects are being expressed within forests and grasslands, including forest fuel accumulations, forest disease and insect outbreaks, as well as unstable wildlife populations.
Hazardous fuel accumulations in our forests have become a growing concern and can contribute to severe wildfires. These wildfires can pose a risk to structures and human lives, impact wildlife populations and their habitat, damage soils, increase erosion, degrade water quality and increase air pollution. Strategic plans and fuel management prescriptions to abate fuel hazards and wildfire risk should not aim to eliminate wildfire but rather to reduce the fire behaviour and potential negative impacts on the ecosystem. Such strategies will allow for the natural ecological benefits of wildfire in the stand or on the landscape with less or none of the consequences.