Canada is investing $27.5 million over five years into securing the future of Wood Buffalo National Park, the largest national park in Canada, as a World Heritage site.
The decision came after recommendations in 2017 from the committee that oversees UNESCO world heritage sites
The committee warned that it might put Wood Buffalo on its list of endangered sites due to complaints the park was being negatively impacted by hydro development and oilsands activity.
Canada recognizes the value of Canada’s UNESCO sites, and is committed to taking steps to undergo the park’s conservation and protection, according to a Parks Canada news release.
Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change for Parks Canada, announced the funding to support the development of an action plan to protect the heritage site.
“Our commitment is real and we will continue to work with all of our provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners to secure the future of the Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site for generations to come,” McKenna said on June 28.
Parks Canada said in its news release that several steps led to the decision.
In 2014, the World Heritage Committee received a petition from the Mikisew Cree First Nation asking for Wood Buffalo to be on the list of endangered sites. The committee decided to monitor and assess the status of the park and the cumulative impacts of all developments on its world heritage values.
As a result of the assessment, the committee requested that Canada develop an action plan to restore and conserve Wood Buffalo as a park as well as a world heritage site.
The funding will come from budget 2018, which contains a $1.3 billion investment in Canada’s nature, parks, and wild spaces.
Wood Buffalo National Park sits along the boundary between Alberta and the Northwest Territories. According to the World Heritage Convention, the park is made up of 4.5 million hectares of forest, wetland, and prairie. The sheer size of the park allows for the protection of ecosystems within the park itself as well as ecosystemic features that stand as the basis for the park’s Outstanding Universal Value.
The protection of the park will ensure that it is maintained for future generations, Parks Canada said.