World Heritage Committee decision commends Canada’s Action Plan to protect Wood Buffalo

From: Parks Canada

World Heritage sites represent some of humanity’s most outstanding achievements and nature’s most inspiring creations. Canada is home to an amazing array of UNESCO World Heritage sites and the Government of Canada is committed to their ongoing protection.

At the request of the World Heritage Committee, the Government of Canada, in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous communities, and stakeholders, developed a comprehensive Action Plan to protect Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site and ensure that it is safeguarded for current and future generations. Implementation of the Action Plan is already underway.

Today, at its annual meeting, the World Heritage Committee adopted a decision on the state of conservation of Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site and did not inscribe Wood Buffalo National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Government of Canada recognizes that climate change and external development pressures are having serious impacts on the Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site, and that it is in the Peace Athabasca Delta that impacts are most evident. Canada, in collaboration with partners will continue to take action by implementing the measures outlined in the Action Plan in response to the concerns noted by the World Heritage Committee in its decision. These measures include strengthening relationships with Indigenous peoples, protecting the ecological integrity of the park and surrounding ecosystems, and taking action to improve water management in the Peace Athabasca Delta.

The World Heritage Committee’s decision commends the actions that have been taken to strengthen the protection and management of the World Heritage Site, including the Government of Canada’s significant investment of $27.5 million through Budget 2018 to support the development and early implementation of the Action Plan to protect Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site. This funding is part of the historic $1.35 billion investment by the Government of Canada to protect Canada’s nature, parks, and wild spaces – a true legacy for our children and grandchildren.

Furthermore, the decision welcomes the creation of new Wildland Provincial Parks by the Government of Alberta, in collaboration with Indigenous groups, which contribute to the conservation of more than 6.7 million hectares of boreal forest, the largest contiguous protected boreal forest in the world. These protected areas provide significant buffers and landscape connectivity, which will support the conservation of the Peace-Athabasca watershed and the recovery of iconic species for which the World Heritage Site was established, such as Whooping Cranes and Wood Bison.

The Government of Canada is enhancing the way that science and Indigenous Knowledge work together to conserve Canada’s natural heritage. This is reflected in the measures outlined in the Action Plan and the Government of Canada’s continued engagement of Indigenous peoples in the protection of Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site which was recognized in the World Heritage Committee’s decision.

Through ongoing collective action with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners, the Government of Canada will preserve the Outstanding Universal Value of Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site so that it remains a treasured place for generations to come.

“While we are pleased that the World Heritage Committee’s decision has recognized the important and collective steps that our Government alongside our Indigenous, provincial, and territorial partners have taken to protect the ecological integrity and outstanding universal value of Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site; there’s a lot more work to do. By developing the Wood Buffalo Action Plan in collaboration with our partners and investing in its early implementation, Canada has clearly demonstrated its commitment to the future of our country’s largest national park and World Heritage Site. Canada is fully committed to the on-going implementation of the Action Plan. Through ongoing collaboration and action, including with eleven Indigenous communities in the region, we will preserve Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site for the benefit of Canadians and the world.”

The Honourable Catherine McKenna,

Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

Quick facts

  • The recognition of Wood Buffalo National Park’s Outstanding Universal Value – including one of the largest free-roaming, self-regulating Wood Bison herds in the world, great concentrations of migratory wildlife, the only remaining nesting ground of the endangered Whooping Crane, the biologically rich Peace-Athabasca Delta, extensive salt plains unique in Canada, and some of the finest examples of gypsum karst topography in North America – led to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

  • In July 2017, the World Heritage Committee requested that Canada take steps to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site. The Government of Canada welcomed the World Heritage Committee’s recommendations as an important call to action.

  • The Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site Action Plan was developed in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous communities, and stakeholders. It includes over 140 measures to increase protection of ecosystems, improve understanding and water management of the Peace-Athabasca Delta, strengthen relationships with Indigenous partners, and support the recovery of iconic species for which the World Heritage Site was established, such as Whooping Cranes and Wood Bison.

  • The World Heritage Committee’s annual meeting is currently taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan

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