OTTAWA, June 28, 2018 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada recognizes the Outstanding Universal Value of Canada's 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Wood Buffalo National Park, and is committed to their ongoing protection.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, announced $27.5 million in funding over five years to support the development of an action plan to secure the future of Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site.
The investment comes after recommendations in 2017 from the World Heritage Committee, which oversees UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and takes concrete steps to address the recommendations of a recent reactive monitoring mission to Wood Buffalo National Park.
This funding will further support Canada's response to the World Heritage Committee in the requested timelines as part of the Government's ongoing commitment to protecting Canada's heritage places now, and for future generations. Work is already well underway.
Recently, the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site was completed in fulfillment of the World Heritage Committee request to undertake such an assessment. The SEA identifies potential cumulative impacts to the Outstanding Universal Value of Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site and is a key component that will inform the action plan.
The Government of Canada is leading a collaborative effort with the Governments of Alberta, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories, in partnership with Indigenous organizations, which all have areas of responsibility in the development of the action plan, and with other stakeholders. Development of the action plan will build on existing efforts by the various partners, and will also address other important issues such as enhanced focus on community-based monitoring. Through this collaboration, all partners will continue to work to preserve the Outstanding Universal Value of Wood Buffalo National Park and address the important issues identified by the World Heritage Committee.
The new funding will be allocated from Budget 2018, which made a historic $1.3 billion investment in Canada's nature, parks, and wild spaces.
"As I have said many times before, the findings and recommendations of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee represent an important call to action. Today, our Government continues to take action with this new, substantial, and long term investment. 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."
The Honourable Catherine McKenna,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
- Following a petition submitted to the World Heritage Committee by the Mikisew Cree First Nation in 2014 requesting that Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site be added to the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger, the Committee issued a decision requesting that Canada host a Reactive Monitoring Mission and undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to assess the potential cumulative impacts of all developments on the site's world heritage values.
- Parks Canada hosted a joint Reactive Monitoring Mission of the World Heritage Centre and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and as a result of the mission and subsequent report, the World Heritage Committee formally requested through its July 2017 decision that Canada develop an action plan for Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site.
- As one of the most significant investments in nature conservation in Canadian history, Budget 2018 will increase federal capacity to protect species at risk and put in place new recovery initiatives for priority species, areas, and threats to our environment.
- Through Budget 2018, over $27.5 million will be invested over five years in the development of, and early implementation of, the action plan for Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site.
- Wood Buffalo National Park is located in the traditional territory of Indigenous peoples. Parks Canada is working with the 11 Indigenous communities associated with Wood Buffalo National Park through a co-operative management committee that strives to respect both the mandate of Parks Canada and the cultures and traditions of Indigenous peoples. The development of the action plan will be informed by and will reflect Indigenous perspectives, values, and knowledge.
Actions to Ensure the Protection of
Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site
In July 2015, the World Heritage Committee issued a decision requesting that Canada invite a World Heritage Centre (WHC)/International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Reactive Monitoring Mission to Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site to evaluate its state of conservation. The Committee also requested that Canada undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to assess the potential cumulative impacts of all developments on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, including hydroelectric dams, oil sands development, and mining.
Canada welcomed the Reactive Monitoring Mission and worked closely with the WHC, the IUCN, and Indigenous partners to plan the visit. The mission occurred between September 26 and October 4, 2016 in which representatives of the WHC and the IUCN met with federal, provincial and territorial governments; Indigenous communities; industry; and environmental non-government organizations.
The World Heritage Committee adopted a decision at the July 2017 Committee meeting requesting that Canada submit to the World Heritage Centre, by February 1, 2018, a report on the progress achieved with its implementation of the 2016 Reactive Monitoring Mission recommendations, and to submit by December 1, 2018, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and an action plan to address the challenges to Wood Buffalo National Park. The material will be considered by the Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.
Working with partners and stakeholders, including Indigenous peoples, the Government of Canada is taking action to respond to the World Heritage Committee's recommendations. We are confident that through this collaboration we can create a path forward and secure the future of Wood Buffalo National Park, so that it remains a treasured place with Outstanding Universal Value for generations to come.
Actions taken to date and currently underway include the following:
Strategic Environmental Assessment
- In December 2016, Parks Canada contracted Independent Environmental Consultants (IEC) to undertake the Strategic Environmental Assessment requested by the World Heritage Committee.
- In August 2017, the Strategic Environmental Assessment Draft Scoping Report was shared with other federal departments, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous partners, industry groups, and conservation organizations. It was also made available for public comment.
- In June 2017, The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site was completed in fulfilment of the World Heritage Committee request to undertake such an assessment. The SEA identifies potential cumulative impacts to the Outstanding Universal Value of Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site.
- In late 2017, a Federal-Provincial–Territorial Coordinating Committee was established to coordinate jurisdictional collaboration in the development of the action plan for Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site.
- Indigenous communities which partner regularly with Wood Buffalo National Park are engaged in the development of the action plan, and also in related processes led by the provinces. The action plan is being developed through a range of processes on specific thematic areas led by relevant jurisdictional authorities.
- The Government of Canada's Budget 2018 proposes historic investments to protect Canada's nature, parks, and wild spaces. Included in these investments in Canada's Natural Legacy is a commitment to invest in the action plan that is being developed for Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site.
- Work on the action plan is well underway and the draft is anticipated to be completed by fall 2018 with the ongoing collaboration and input from partners and stakeholders.
- Formal consultation on the Action plan will occur in late fall 2018, including through a public comment period with a final draft plan completed for approval in late fall 2018. The final action plan is scheduled to be submitted to the World Heritage Centre by December 1, 2018.
- In August 2017, together with the Alberta Energy Regulator, Canada announced an amendment to the Joint Review Panel Agreement for the proposed Frontier Oil Sands Mine Project. The amendment mandates the independent Joint Review Panel to specifically consider and report on the potential environmental and cumulative effects of the project on the Outstanding Universal Value of the Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site, including the Peace Athabasca Delta (PAD). The amendment was developed in consultation with Indigenous communities.
- The Joint Review Panel established to review the proposed Frontier Oil Sands Mine Project and conduct the assessment of the potential environmental effects of the project has determined that the proponent, Teck Resources Limited, has provided sufficient information for the Panel to hold a public hearing for the project in September 2018. Hearing dates and locations have not been determined.
- In December of 2017, the Ministers of Alberta Environment and Parks and Environment and Climate Change Canada, signed a Memorandum of Understanding that renews each Government's commitment to monitoring of oil sands development, including environmental monitoring within the Peace-Athabasca Delta region of WBNP. The agreement also recognized and affirmed treaty and Aboriginal rights of Indigenous people as per Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
- Under this agreement, Environment and Climate Change Canada will invest up to $2 million annually to assist local Indigenous communities – including some of those whose traditional territory includes Wood Buffalo National Park – to develop and implement community-based environmental monitoring projects.
- Parks Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Alberta and Indigenous communities, among others, all conduct on-going science and monitoring work in the Peace-Athabasca Delta.
- In February 2018, the Government of Canada proposed changes to environmental and regulatory processes, including project proposals that may have an impact on national parks. The changes will ensure decisions are informed by consultation with, and input from, Indigenous peoples and the public.
- Currently, Environment and Climate Change Canada is convening a new multi-jurisdictional process to address the recommendations related to environmental flows and hydrology. Environment and Climate Change Canada and Parks Canada are working with technical advisors from government and Indigenous partners to develop the action plan content for this theme.
SOURCE Parks Canada
For further information: Caroline Thériault, Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, firstname.lastname@example.org; Media Relations, Parks Canada Agency, 855-862-1812, email@example.com