Survey guide for Albertans on sizeable protected area expansion in northeast Alberta

March 11, 2021
By: admin

Survey Guide for Alberta's proposed expansion of Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park

Published [post_published]
CPAWS Northern Alberta

The Athabasca River in northeastern Alberta, near Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park. Photo by Garth Lenz.
The Athabasca River in northeastern Alberta, near Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park. Photo by Garth Lenz.

A significant expansion to the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park, first established in 2019, was recently proposed by the Government of Alberta in early February. “Kitaskino Nuwenëné” is Cree and Dene for “our land” and reflects the intention of this area to safeguard Indigenous Peoples’ way of life through protection of the land. 

There is a government-led open public consultation for the proposed expansion that ends March 15, 2021, at 9:00AM. This is an exciting opportunity to voice your support  for Indigenous-led conservation and growing our protected areas network—not dismantling it. 

Kitaskino Nuwenëné proposed expansion is highlighted in the dashed blue polygon.

The expansion will add to the largest contiguous collection of protected areas in the boreal forest in the world. It will protect important woodland caribou habitat and carbon-storing wetlands. The park buffers the southern edge of Wood Buffalo National Parkenhancing its protections from harmful cumulative effects that grow outside its borders in the oil sands area 

The park and its expansion have been tirelessly pursued by the Mikisew Cree First Nation, who have strong cultural ties to the area and the animals that depend on it. The Government of Alberta states that the management intent for the area is to cooperatively manage it with Indigenous communities. You can learn more about the proposed boundaries and its management intent here.  

We strongly encourage participation in the Government of Alberta’s online survey! Use our comment guide below to help craft your responses.

You can also download our survey guide here.

Our suggestion:
*Note: You cannot “copy and paste” into these smaller text boxes. but you can paste into the largest text box in Question 5.

I support the proposed expansion. Permanent protection of critical caribou habitat is key to achieving their recovery. The expansion also adds to a protective buffer around Wood Buffalo National Park, as recommended by UNESCO to help conserve the park.

Our suggestion: 

I support the intent to cooperatively manage the area with interested Indigenous communities, including the Mikisew Cree First Nation, who identified this area as a conservation priority. The management plan must be made collaboratively.

Our suggestion: 

In this section, please include any other important thoughts or feelings you have about Indigenous-led conservation in Alberta and the importance of protected areas in conserving Alberta’s natural heritage. Here are some important points worth considering:  

  • Cooperative management: This is a significant step forward for Indigenous-led conservation in Alberta. Building on this momentum, the Government of Alberta should continue growing its collaborative relationship with the Mikisew Cree First Nation by prioritizing the development of a cooperative management plan, which includes joint decision-making with Indigenous communities, once the final boundaries are approved.  
  • Caribou conservation: The expansion will protect over 140,000 hectares of critical caribou habitat from destruction. Protected areas will be a key tool for recovering declining caribou herds that depend on intact boreal habitatI support additional protected areas, much like this expansion, that are co-managed with Indigenous Peoples across caribou ranges in Alberta.   
  • Wood bison conservation: While the expansion focuses on protecting caribou habitat, there is still a lot of unprotected wood bison habitat in the surrounding area. With the Ronald Lake wood bison herd facing imminent threats to their recovery, I encourage consideration of protecting additional Ronald Lake wood bison range to the east of the park, building on the great success so far from collaborations between the Mikisew Cree First Nation, the energy industry, and the Government of Alberta. 


  • Importance of protected areas: I strongly support the creation and expansion of protected areas in Alberta. Protected areas are one of the strongest tools to ensure long-term, permanent protection of ecologically and culturally important areas, while also safeguarding our lands and waters against the effects of climate change by increasing resiliency 



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