Wood Buffalo National Park undergoing review of becoming a World Heritage Site in Danger

Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP) will be undergoing its second Reactive Monitoring Mission (RMM) from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to determine if should be on the list of Heritage Sites In Danger.

The mission is in collaboration with Parks Canada, Indigenous partners, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the governments of Alberta, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories.

This will be a follow-up to the 2016 RMM that was to determine the pace and scale of development pressures outside the boundaries of the park and whether climate change posed threats to its world heritage values.

WBNP was designated a World Heritage Site in 1983 based on the following elements:

  • The only remaining nesting ground of the endangered Whooping Crane
  • Extensive salt plains and gypsum karst topography
  • The Peace-Athabasca Delta, one of the world’s largest boreal, freshwater deltas
  • The great plains-boreal grassland ecosystem
  • Wolf – Wood Bison relationship
  • Great concentrations of migratory wildlife

Wood Buffalo National Park had its first RMM from Sept. 25- Oct. 4, 2016 which made 17 recommendations to improve the environmental outlook.

In July 2017, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee requested that Canada develop an Action Plan for WBNP by Dec. 1, 2018.

According to Parks Canada, the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population has achieved a growth rate of 4.4 per cent and an estimated total population of 543 birds in February 2022.

Beginning this Thursday, from August 18- 26, Mission representatives will visit the Wood Buffalo National Park to hear the views of partners, and stakeholders, including Indigenous nations and communities.

If placed on the “In Danger” list, it would join 52 sites from around the globe and become the second location in North America.

According to UNESCO, making the list would allow the World Heritage Committee to allocate immediate assistance from the World Heritage Fund to the endangered property and allow the conservation community to respond to specific preservation needs in an efficient manner.

A decision is expected to be made at the 45th World Heritage meeting.

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