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Forest Fires, Climate Change and Grizzliesby  By The Grizzly Bear Foundation

In North America, we’re feeling the heat. Quite literally. 2018 will be the 4th hottest year on world record, the top five having all occurred in the last six years (1). On the west coast, we have yet again been faced with tinder-dry conditions that have led to yet another summer of exhausted firefighters, overloaded emergency operations centres, displaced communities, and stressed wildlife. And, all this on top of 2017’s record-breaking 1.2 million hectares of burned land (2).

Fires change our landscapes, not only by consuming dead and dying plant life, but by changing the molecular state of our forests, soils, and even waters. We are reassured that this is a natural process – and that, once the smoke has settled, life rapidly returns, the now exposed minerals in the soil bringing forth new plants, fungi, and organisms that may not have had a chance to previously flourish. Plant species such as birch, aspen, or willow prefer open ground to shady canopies and are happy to pioneer new forests when landscapes are bare.

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