Seeds of hope sprouting in burned-out Sask. forests

A photographer has snapped pictures of the regrowth of forests torched by this summer's fires. A forest expert says renewal begins even when the trees are still smoking.

'It's like a birth,' says forest ecologist

Photographer Debbie Young took this shot of fireweed in a burned-out forest near White Fox, Sask. after the Torch River fire this spring. (Debbie Young)

A photographer near White Fox, Sask., has captured more than a sliver of hope after wildfires roared through Saskatchewan this spring and summer.

Debbie Young took the photo of fireweed taking over the burned-out Torch River forest near White Fox. She posted the photos online saying, "Forest burned a month ago ... and already turning green ... renewal."

David Stephenson, the manager of Forest Practices and Science with the Ministry of Environment, said the photos illustrate what's going on all over northern Saskatchewan.

He was at the site of the Torch River a week after the fire. 

Renewal starts while trees are still smoking

Forest expert David Stephenson says while the trees are still smoking, the forest is already starting to regenerate. This photo was taken near White Fox, Sask. (Debbie Young)

"There were grasses that had already started growing back in these areas that were completely black," he told CBC Saskatchewan's Blue Sky.

While the trees are still smoking after a fire, he said the renewal is already taking place. Certain insects are attracted to the smoke. In turn, birds feed on those insects.

"Animals use the forest after fire literally while the trees are still smoking."

Mushrooms, berries flourish after fires

Photographer Debbie Young posted this online writing, "A huge old tree making room for many news ones." The photo was taken near White Fox, Sask. (Debbie Young)

Stephenson said seeds wait on the forest floor for years, including cherries, raspberries, blueberries and fireweed. After a fire, they start to sprout.

For reasons that are not well-understood, anywhere a pine forest burned, over the next year there will be mushrooms.

This is a natural event. It's a like a birth, really.- David Stephenson

"You're going to see a spectacular harvest of black morels."  

"Trees have a life span and they don't live forever."

Stephenson says fire is needed to rejuvenate the forest. Without it, the forest will collapse on itself. 

"This is a natural event. It's a like a birth, really."

Fireweed is one of the first plants to establish after a fire, says forest expert David Stephenson. (Debbie Young)


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