Representatives from the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently concluded a nine-day visit to Wood Buffalo National Park (Alberta) and World Heritage Site.
The World Heritage Committee first visited the park in 2016 and requested a second visit in July 2021. Over the course of nine days, the visiting experts were provided with first-hand accounts of the shared commitments and the important work carried out by Indigenous nations and communities, governments, and other partners.
Their visit was to protect and conserve the Outstanding Universal Value for which Wood Buffalo National Park has gained international recognition as a World Heritage Site.
Indigenous nations and communities, provincial and territorial governments, federal departments, and non-government organizations all participated in the Mission and helped to provide insight into the cooperative activities undertaken and achievements made since the implementation of the 2019 Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site Action Plan began.
Two-thirds of the Action Plan’s 138 actions are either completed or underway and all partners continue to make the conservation and restoration of Wood Buffalo National Park a priority, including the Government of Canada which has made an unprecedented investment of $87 million to the implementation of the Action Plan.
The UNESCO Mission learned more about the importance of water flows in the Peace-Athabasca Delta and shared efforts to manage water in Wood Buffalo National Park to advance ecological gains and support traditional Indigenous use.
The UNESCO visitors also learned more about climate change impacts, the recovery of key species, and the importance of braiding Indigenous and western knowledge systems in making management decisions for the national park and implementing the 2019 Action Plan.
In the coming months, the Mission experts will submit a report and recommendations on the overall state of conservation of the park to the World Heritage Committee.
The Outstanding Universal Value of Wood Buffalo National Park continues to be conserved and protected through rigorous research and respectful collaboration and dialogue, all while striving to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
The gains made to date in the implementation of the Action Plan have been the product of shared efforts and cooperation. Future successes in the conservation of the park will depend significantly on the ongoing collective commitment of all partners to the stewardship of the lands and waters of this important protected area.
Learn more about Wood Buffalo National Park and World Heritage Site by reading the State of Conservation reports and the Action Plan available at https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nt/woodbuffalo/info/action.