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Abstract

The levels of participation in various types of outdoor recreation in forested areas are substantial. Studies have shown that over 18.5 million days, representing approximately 80% of recreation user days, were spent by Canadians in recreational activities in forested lands. Furthermore, recreation has significant social and economic value that should be reflected in management decisions if sustainable forest management is to be achieved. The importance of recreation in forests has resulted in the selection of measures of recreation participation as one of the relevant indicators of sustainable forest management reporting in Canada. This suggests that recreation areas should be an important component of the values of forest at risk due to loss from wildfire. However, the presence of recreationists, who are considered to be the highest values at risk, dispersed on the fire prone landscape presents some issues for fire management agencies. These issues include the possibility of recreationists perishing in a wildfire and/or the possibility of fire starts as a result of recreation activities which are projected to increase into the future. For fire management agencies that strive to suppress all wildfires, the latter issue is particularly challenging when faced with resource constraints. Thus, a move away from suppression of all wildfires to suppression based on protecting highest values at risk is needed. An explicit incorporation of recreation values is advantageous in that these values are closely linked to the presence of recreationists. Therefore, during fire events, directing resources to high value recreation areas fulfill a fire management goal of protecting highest values at risk as well as identifying areas of the landscape where the suppression efforts are to be directed.

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