Restoring forest ecosystems

Kluane National Park and Reserve

Dákeyi ukaanathį̀ jè: All of you watch over our country with your heart

Champagne & Aishihik First Nations (CAFN), Kluane First Nation (KFN), and Parks Canada are excited to introduce Dákeyi ukaanathį̀ jè: All of you watch over our country with your heart – Restoring forest ecosystems in Kluane National Park and Reserve (KNPR). Informed by Indigenous Knowledge and Western science, this multi-year, collaborative project is taking tangible steps towards understanding and increasing the resilience of Kluane’s forests.

Bark beetle outbreak

Spruce bark affected by bark beetles

A widespread Spruce Bark Beetle outbreak which began in the early 1990s has had a dramatic impact on the health of KNPR’s forests. The beetles affected two-thirds of the white spruce forests, and nearly half (44%) of the mature spruce forest was killed! Regular visits and monitoring of these impacted forests are helping us understand whether or not these forests will return to pre-beetle conditions.

Wildfire deficit

A wildfire deficit exists in KNPR (that is, much less area has burned over the last 150 years compared to what we would have expected to burn based on our knowledge of the wildfire regime), likely influenced by various policies of the previous century enacted to suppress natural fire and remove Indigenous cultural practices and access to the land. In 1943, the Government of Canada created the Kluane Game Sanctuary, which denied First Nations access to hunting, fishing and trapping in a significant portion of their traditional territory. Cultural practices on the land, including traditional uses and relationships to fire, were interrupted and altered the cycles of fire in the landscape.

Parks Canada staff monitoring forest composition
Project activities include a renewed effort to better understand both the park’s wildfire regime and how Yukon First Nations cultural practices and settler land management practices may have influenced the vegetation and forests we see in Kluane today. Understanding the historic role of fire and how people fit in and helped shape the landscape is an important first step in planning our actions to support forest health in KNPR.

Restoring balance

Fire is an integral natural process for rejuvenating and creating diversity within Kluane’s boreal forests. The younger stands originating from fire help adapt to and absorb impacts from climate change and other stressors.  A forest mosaic comprising a variety of stand ages and plant communities is generally more resilient in the face of major insect infestations and catastrophic fire events. With this project, our hope is to restore balance to our forests and increase their ability to withstand and recover from past and future changes. 

First Nations citizens harvesting berries
Areas to conduct active management – prescribed fire, cultural burning or other interventions to increase the resilience of the regions forests – are being explored within KNPR and with neighbouring jurisdictions. Planning for these activities will be approached with an eye to connectivity and an understanding of the shared conservation interests and objectives of CAFN, KFN and adjacent jurisdictions. Shared conservation interests include exploring opportunities to support traditional activities and promoting long term connections to the land.


This project will help us plan long-term approaches to restoring and increasing the resilience of the park’s forests while helping to revitalize Southern Tutchone traditions and culture.

November 2023 update

The Fire Management Plan for KNPR was completed in 2023. The Fire management plan sets the strategic direction for the wildfire program in the park for the next 10 years and is closely linked to the Dákeyi ukaanathi ̨̀ jè project.
The Fire & Forests Gathering served as a place to learn and share and it spurred momentum and inspiration to support the project moving forward. Over 60 community members gathered over 2 days on February 7-8, 2023. Participants shared stories about burning in the past and perspectives about prescribed fire on the landscape. Since the Fire and Forest gathering Parks Canada has been working with CAFN land guardians to study weather, forest fuels, birds and wildlife, while also developing a cultural resource inventory at two areas being considered for future prospective burns: Jarvis River and Alder Creek.
In partnership with Yukon Wildland Fire Management, Parks Canada conducted a prescribed fire at the old Kluane farm. Just two weeks after the burn of dry overgrowth, regeneration could be seen in the form of new grasses.

For more information on updates, contact us:


Phone: 867-634-7250

For more information on prescribed fire in National Parks, check out: 


Date modified :