Fires, Conservation and Fire Management in the Halifax Backlands

Online presentation by David Patriquin to the NS Wild Flora Society, Oct 23, 2023

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Geoffrey Grantham and Ron Kuwahara paint en plein air in the Jack Pine-Crowberry barrens on Nov 2, 2015, 6 years after 2009 "Spryfield Fire".
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The "Backlands", located only a few kilometers from from peninsular Halifax, NS, are a Thompsonesque urban wilderness of approximately 1350 hectares which include nine lakes, hills with spectacular views and dozens of kilometers of informal hiking and biking trails. Erratic blocks, whalebacks and boulder fields are prominent features of the glacially scoured rocky landscape. It is also one of the most fire-susceptible landscapes in Nova Scotia, with recurrent fires pre-dating European settlement. One result is the presence of highly fire-adapted plant communities including the globally rare 'Jack Pine/Broom Crowberry Barrens'.

David will describe the plant communities, their fire ecology, and discuss what’s involved in managing fire to conserve these ecosystems while at the same time protecting structures and people at the Urban-Wildland Interface.

For more about the area, visit

David Patriquin, Professor of Biology at Dalhousie University (retired 2008) is involved in conservation-oriented activities with several local natural history, trail and environmental organizations.

To register for this event and receive a link for the Zoom session, contact


The Backlands:Natural History
Pages on the website for the Backlands Coalition. View section on Fire Ecology

A Rare, Fire-Dependent Pine Barrens at the Wildland-Urban Interface of Halifax, Nova Scotia
Nick Hill and David Patriquin. 2014. Annotated Slideshow presentation to the Wildland Fire Canada 2014 Conference, Halifax, N.S. Oct 6-9, 2014. 12 frames. Link

Hill, N. and Patriquin. D. 2014. Ecological Assessment of the Plant Communities of the Williams Lake Backlands. Report to The Williams Lake Conservation Company. Link

Regeneration of Forest and Barrens after the Spryfield Fire of April 30, 2009
Photo-essay by Richard Beazley and David Patriquin. Link

Nova Scotia Wild Flora Society: Corema conradii

The forest fires that nature intended
Article in Chronicle Herald

On the state of Triad Forest Management in Nova Scotia: NS Forest Fires