Indigenous communities, civil society organizations and scientists welcome international investigation into state of Wood Buffalo National Park

July 26, 2021
By: admin

Indigenous communities, civil society organizations and scientists welcome international investigation into state of Wood Buffalo National Park 

July 26, 2021 

Ottawa, ONtraditional unceded Algonquin Territory Edmonton, ABTreaty 6 and Métis Region 4 – Indigenous communities, civil society organizations and concerned scientists across Canada welcomed today’s a recent decision by the World Heritage Committee to request a second Reactive Monitoring mission to Wood Buffalo National Park. 

At its 44th session, the Committee determined that the deteriorating condition of Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage site could constitute justification for formally listing it as a World Heritage Site in Danger, and that an investigation into the situation is warrantedThis second Reactive Monitoring mission to the park, which straddles the border between Alberta and the Northwest Territories, would entail a comprehensive on-site investigation to confirm if the park meets conditions to be given an “In Danger” inscription.

This strong decision reflects the significant challenges facing Wood Buffalo National Park and the culmination of a years-long process led by the Committee to highlight and issue recommendations regarding the condition of this siteThe 29 signatories sent a joint letter to the World Heritage Committee earlier this month, urging Committee members to remain firm in their decision to push for more from Canada. 

“We agree that Canada, the State Party, must resolve the major challenges that are undermining the Wood Buffalo National Park Action Plan, and share the view of the World Heritage Centre and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that the case for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger is well supported until rapid conservation action is taken,” states the letter.  

Many of the threats to Wood Buffalo National Park – the largest national park in Canada  originate outside its boundaries, including upstream threats from oil sands development on the Athabasca River and the ongoing construction of Site C dam on the Peace River. Inside the park, the signatories are urging the Government of Canada to make more progress addressing water governance, achieving co-management with Indigenous communities, and extending funding commitments beyond the next three years.  

“While we’ve seen significant funding investments from Canada, this decision sends a clear message that the federal government and the provinces need to do more,” says Sandra Schwartz, CPAWS National Executive Director. “International and national attention on the need to act to save Wood Buffalo National Park is growing.” 

The World Heritage Committee – the governing body for implementation of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention – proposed the request for a second Reactive Monitoring mission on June 21, 2021, and accepted the recommendation without amendments at their virtual meeting July 23, 2021. The next step will be for Canada to respond to the request. The timeline for this is not known.  

Media Contacts:  

CPAWS National  
Tracy Walden, National Director, Communications and Development  
[email protected] 

Wildlife Conservation Society Canada  
Dr. Justina Ray 
President and Senior Scientist  
[email protected] 


 Indigenous Heritage Circle  
Cody Groat 
President of the Indigenous Heritage Circle and Assistant Professor at Western University 
[email protected] 


Additional information: 

The List of World Heritage in Danger is designed to inform the international community of conditions which threaten the very characteristics for which a property was inscribed on the World Heritage List, and to encourage corrective action.” Designation of Wood Buffalo National Park as “World Heritage Site in Danger” would mean that the characteristics for which Wood Buffalo was inscribed as a World Heritage site need corrective action to ensure the “Outstanding Universal Value” of the site 



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