Fire Conservation in Canadian Forests
Not only in the United States is conservation needed in the matter of preservation of forests from fires. According to statistics recently put out by the Forest Department of Canada, fully two-thirds of the forests of the Dominion have been wiped out by fire during the past seventy-five years. It is estimated that there are now intact in Canada 1,900,000 square miles of forest land, the greatest amount lying in the province of British Columbia. These enormous tracts of forest land rival those of Russia, which are the most extensive in the world. Much has been done by the Forest Department of the Dominion, but a far greater systematic drive for Fire Prevention in the forests is urged by the Forester, Col. W B. Greeley. He estimates that the amount of timber burned over in the past seventy-five years would be sufficient to keep the whole world, at the present rate of consumption, supplied for 450 years. The value in money represented in this waste of lumber would exceed a billion dollars, he estimates. This does not include, of course, the indirect losses through the denuding of the land of tree growth and the consequent drying up of streams and springs supplying the watersheds and rivers, through the removal of shade and direct exposure to the heat of the sun’s rays.
Canadian experience in this matter of forest destruction by fire is also our own experience. We of the United States have much the same trouble confronting us. and the remedies are also the same. The increase in the personnel and efficiency of the patrolling forces; more stringent laws and penalities for setting fires in forests and carelessly leaving same to spread; the regulation of railroads passing throught the timber belt and the scattering of sparks from the locomotive funnels and other like causes—all of these and other important matters must have more attention from the national and state governments if our forests are to be preserved. The record in the past two years as regards the destruction of valuable timber and the burning over of countless acres of forest land has been a disgraceful one and merits the careful attention of the authorities in devising means to better protect these most vital and necessary provisions of Nature to sustain life upon our planet, for both science and experience have shown where the tree covering is removed the desert is sure to appear.