The history and pattern of fire in the boreal forest of southeastern Labrador
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): D. R. Foster
Publication Year: 1983

Cataloging Information

  • Abies balsamea
  • boreal forests
  • burning intervals
  • Canada
  • crown fires
  • distribution
  • ecotones
  • fire dependent species
  • fire frequency
  • fire intensity
  • fire regimes
  • firebreaks
  • histories
  • ignition
  • Labrador
  • lakes
  • peatlands
  • Picea mariana
  • precipitation
  • rivers
  • storms
  • watersheds
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 35027
Tall Timbers Record Number: 9318
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File DDW
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


The fire history of the wilderness of southeastern Labrador is marked by a patchy distribution of large fires in time and space. During the 110-year period encompassed by this study, major fires occurred in four decades, 1870-1879, 1890-1899, 1950-1959, 1970-1979. From 1900 to 1951 only 1125km2 burned: this represents approximately 10% of the total area consumed from 1870 to 1980. Fire records indicate an asynchroneity of the important fire years in southeastern Labrador and adjacent provinces and within Labrador itself. This observation suggests that the meteorological conditions controlling fire occurrence in this portion of the eastern boreal forest are local in nature and extent. The fire rotation for southeastern Labrador is calculated at approximately 500 years, significantly longer than that estimated for other regions of boreal forest. The rare occurrence of large fires is explained by high levels of precipitation and by the preponderanee of fire breaks, primarily lakes and peatlands. On the basis of physiographic criteria the region is subdivided into two types of landscape displaying contrastmg fire regimes. The large interior plateau, which is covered by extensive peatlands and numerous lakes, has a low fire incidence and extremely long fire rotation. In contrast large fires are common in the watersheds of the Alexis, Paradise, and St. Augustin rivers where the topographic relief is quite varied and peatlands are scarce. The regional pattern of fire activity has important phytogeographical implications. The lichen woodlands and birch forests are fire-dependent vegetation types: their distribution in the modern landscape is strongly correlated with the historical occurrence of fire during the past 110 years. In addition it is postulated that the historical absence of fire across the large plains in southeastern Labrador has contributed to the development of extensive peatlands in these areas. Abstract reproduced by permission of The Canadian Journal of Botany.©NRC Canada

Online Link(s):
Foster, D. R. 1983. The history and pattern of fire in the boreal forest of southeastern Labrador. Canadian Journal of Botany, v. 61, no. 9, p. 2459-2471.