An Analysis of Forest Fire Vulnerability using GIS and Remote Sensing for Mackenzie County, Alberta
In 2018 alone, the province of Alberta experienced a total of 1,286 fires, a number which has been increasing since 1980. Research suggests that the severity of fires has increased as a result of low moisture content in vegetation, decreased levels of humidity, lack of rainfall, wind speed and direction - factors that are largely supported by climate change research. Current climate models suggest that the threat of forest fires will further increase each season as various tree species in the boreal, mixedwood, taiga, and coniferous forests become more susceptible to ignition. The welfare, health, and quality of life in communities within these ecoregions are at risk as a result of this change. In order to investigate the possible strategies needed to mitigate these risks, a vulnerability analysis was conducted for the northwest region of Mackenzie County, Alberta. A multi-criteria evaluation was conducted to determine susceptability and likelihood within the study area. These models were then combined to establish the vulnerability of forest fire within Mackenzie County. It was initially predicted that the areas of the county most vulnerable to forest fires would be those in close proximity to human activity. The final analysis enforced this hypothesis, proving that it was correct. As a result, this vulnerability analysis can possibly be used in the future to aid in forest fire prevention initiatives in Alberta and establish improved fire managment techniques to better prepare communities in Mackenzie County for potential forest fires.