I’m originally from sunny San Diego, California. I have worked professionally as a GIS analyst, archaeologist, and wildland fire fighter. I obtained a BSc in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 2008. After working as “the GIS guy” for a while, I decided to do more with my life, so I moved to Vancouver to study dendrochronology and fire ecology in the Tree-Ring Lab at UBC. I completed an MSc in Geography at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver in 2011. I loved it so much I decided to move with Lori to the Faculty Forestry in 2011, and continued my graduate education as a fire ecologist. Through my PhD research, I am working to understand the effects of fire exclusion and historic logging practices on the resilience of British Columbia’s dry forest ecosystems.

PhD Thesis
Fire-resilient ecosystems: The effects of fire exclusion and historic logging practices on dry forests of the southern Rocky Mountain Trench, British Columbia

The state of fire-resilience of dry forest ecosystems in southeastern BC remains largely unknown. In particular, we lack empirical evidence to discern whether the historic fire regime was predominantly (1) low-severity, with a majority of the landscape experiencing frequent surface fires; or (2) mixed-severity, with a large portion of the landscape subject to high-severity fire effects. This has direct implications for the management of these ecosystems; it is unclear whether ecological memory and the feedback mechanisms that reinforce fire-resilience have been degraded. We also don’t understand the ecological role of densely-stocked stands within the dry forest mosaic. Are they normal or novel components of dry forest ecosystems? Under the veil of a warming climate, the impact of densely-stocked stands on large, fire-tolerant trees is also unknown. Do dense understories pose a risk to these critical sources of ecological memory? These factors limit our ability to assess whether fire exclusion is affecting the fire-resilience of these ecosystems. If the landscape was historically under a mixed-severity fire regime, this also questions the legitimacy of where and how ecosystem restoration efforts are being applied.

To address these knowledge gaps, I established 22 plots in dense stands throughout the valley bottom of the southern Rocky Mountain Trench. Using evidence collected from fire-scarred trees, stumps, canopy dominant and sub-canopy trees, preliminary results suggest that: (a) the historic fire regime was likely low-severity, with isolated portions of the landscape under the influence of high-severity fire effects; (b) fire suppression combined with high-grade logging have promoted the establishment of thousands of trees per hectare; (c) sub-canopy trees are now outgrowing many of the canopy dominants, including canopy emergents; and (d) since the 1970s, trees of all sizes have not grown radially and are dying, with rates increasing over time. My research indicates that fire exclusion, followed by historic high-grade logging, have extensively degraded the resilience of dry forest ecosystems to both fire and climate change. Ecological restoration may be the only method by which to offset the effects of the last 140 years of poor forest management practices.

Research Contributions

Greene GA, Daniels LD (2017) Spatial Interpolation and Mean Fire Interval Analyses Quantify Historical Mixed-Severity Fire Regimes . International Journal of Wildland Fire, 26: 136–147. http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF16084

Greene GA, Harris BJR (2015) “Ecosystem Restoration Program – Intensive Monitoring Protocols.” Report to the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Submitted February 20.

Daniels LD, Erasmus H, Forge B, Greene GA, Lavallee S (2014) “Monitoring fire intensity and severity: 2013 prescribed burn at the Westside Unit, Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area.” Report to the Canadian Wildlife Service. Submitted October.

Greene GA, Villemaire-Cote O, Daniels LD (2014) “Climate change, wildfire, and landscape homogenization in western Canada.” Report to the Rocky Mountain Trench Society. Submitted March 31.

Greene GA (2011) Historical Fire Regime of the Darkwoods: Quantifying the Past to Plan for the Future. MSc Thesis, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Greene GA, Daniels LD (2010) “Historical Fire Regime of the Darkwoods: 1449-2010 – A Preliminary Report.” Report to the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Kalesnikoff Lumber Co. Ltd. Submitted December 9.