MScF Candidate

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Mike Wotton

BScEnv, University of Guelph, Canada (2011)

Fire management agencies aim to balance the ecological requirement for fire on the landscape with the need to protect human life, property, and industrial and recreational interests. One objective of  fuel  management is to reduce the threat of fire at the wildland–urban interface. Predicted increases in fire frequency and severity, coupled with increasing human development, suggest that protection efforts around communities are of paramount importance.

The mastication of forest fuels is a popular fuel management practice in Canada and the United States. While these measures are being recommended under Canada’s FireSmart protocols, little is known about the moisture dynamics and fire behaviour properties of these manufactured fuelbeds.

My research will clarify several fundamental and still largely unanswered questions about masticated fuelbeds. I will be analyzing fuelbed characteristics, developing predictive fuel-loading equations, modeling moisture dynamics at multiple depths through the fuelbed profile, and determining ignition probability under a range of moisture conditions.

My investigation represents an important first step in better understanding how fuel management practices influence fire risk in Canada. This research has direct consequences for fire managers in the level of understanding of community wildfire protection.

I collaborate on this research with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development and FPInnovations Wildland Fire Operational Research Group.