FORT CHIPEWYAN, AB, June 22, 2021 /CNW/ - A draft decision by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee has highlighted serious shortcomings in multijurisdictional efforts led by Canada to save the Peace Athabasca Delta in Canada's largest national park. Wood Buffalo National Park is moving closer to possibly becoming Canada's first World Heritage Site to be added to UNESCO's List of World Heritage in Danger until more corrective measures are completed.
Wood Buffalo National Park in Peril
The draft decision includes the following findings:
Wood Buffalo National Park's conservation status has not improved since a 2016 reactive monitoring mission and WBNP's integrity remains a significant concern;
Canada has not effectively managed threats to WBNP;
Large challenges continue to compromise the effectiveness of the WBNP Action Plan;
WBNP likely meets the criteria for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, which will be considered after an investigation by conservation experts.
"Our way of life depends on having a healthy Peace Athabasca Delta in Wood Buffalo National Park," said Mikisew Chief Peter Powder. "That's why we would like nothing more than to be in a position to tell the World Heritage Committee next month that Canada, Alberta and British Columbia have responded to yesterday's announcement by redoubling their efforts to save this incredible place and that they've made new commitments to take the actions needed to tackle the most serious threats to the Park in partnership with us. We're starting to build some momentum, but more can and must be done to save this special place."
WBNP has the worst conservation outlook of any World Heritage Site in Canada according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. A 2018 strategic environmental assessment of WBNP commissioned by Parks Canada determined that, without immediate intervention, the world heritage values of the Peace Athabasca Delta will be lost. The draft decision and supporting conservation analysis was released on National Indigenous Peoples Day and will be considered at the 44th Session of the World Heritage Committee.
"It was bittersweet to receive this report on National Indigenous Peoples Day," added Melody Lepine, Mikisew's UNESCO lead. "Saving Wood Buffalo National Park provides many opportunities for Canada to show it is a champion for the environment and reconciliation in a tangible way. We hope the analysis provided by UNESCO becomes a catalyst to deepen our work together and to confirm the new actions and better partnerships we've been seeking for some time, including establishing the Peace Athabasca Delta Institute, resolving the interjurisdictional issues that undermine good water governance and securing sustained funding."
The World Heritage Committee will issue a final decision about WBNP at its annual meeting on July 16 - 31 during a special online session.
SOURCE Mikisew Cree First Nation
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