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Mike Norton is a wildfire and wildland fire expert with Natural Resources Canada. He will be presenting the topic, Climate Change and Wildfires.


Mike Norton joined Natural Resources Canada in July 2014 as the Director General of the Northern Forestry Centre (NFC), located in Edmonton, Alberta. NFC is a research centre comprising over 100 employees, with particular strengths in wildland fire, forest health, land reclamation, and climate change. Through extensive partnerships with the public, private and academic sectors, NFC supports the sustainable management of forests as a foundation for a vibrant industry. Mike also holds national leadership roles related to wildland fire.

Prior to joining NRCan, Mike was Regional Director, Environmental Services and Contaminated Sites with Public Works and Government Services Canada (2013-2014), where he led a major program remediating contaminated sites across Canada’s north and providing other environmental services to federal government departments. Previously, Mike held the position of Associate Regional Director General with Environment Canada (2011-2013). In that role he provided senior leadership and advice on high profile regional issues, managed stakeholder relations, and led several interjurisdictional initiatives on water in addition to senior corporate roles. He started his federal public service career with Environment Canada in 2000.

Mike has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Guelph and a Master of Science from the University of Alberta.  He lives in Edmonton, and is married with two girls in high school.

Strategic Directions Towards Building Resilience to Wildland Fire in Canada

Climate change and other drivers have increased the frequency and intensity of wildland fire events in Canada. Three fires in the past five years have each resulted in costs over $1 billion; the Fort McMurray fire (Alberta, 2016) alone resulted in costs of nearly $7 billion. The need to strengthen Canada’s resilience through evidence-based policies and practices is more important than ever. This presentation will provide an overview of the efforts Canada is making to address key knowledge and data gaps, to transform wildfire management to better manage risks, and to increase wildland fire resilience. Work is underway to answer important questions such as: What decision tools will assist in assessing wildland fire risk? How do we modernize and standardize technical systems? How do we enhance Indigenous fire knowledge and partnership? There is an increasing need for Canada to enhance prevention and mitigation activities through a whole-of-society approach given that wildland fires are not solely a forest management issue. Global collaboration is critical to strengthen national research capacity, to deliver targeted outputs, and to reduce the impacts of wildland fires on society.

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