The 17 Recommendations from the Reactive Monitoring Mission

Wood Buffalo National Park

Recommendation 1

(Indigenous Partnerships with WBNP) 

Adopt a clear and coherent policy and guidance to enable the transition to a genuine partnership with First Nations and Métis communities in the governance and management of the property.

Recommendation 2

(Monitoring and Science) 

Considering the increasing pressures on the property at this time, prioritise conservation and ensure that the State Party’s science capacity enables Parks Canada’s legal obligation to maintain and restore the Ecological Integrity of the property.

Recommendation 3

(Environmental Flows and Hydrology) 

To enable informed decision-making, conduct environmental flows assessments to the highest international standards for the Peace, Athabasca and Slave Rivers as they pertain to the health of the Peace-Athabasca Delta (PAD), in order to identify water flows needed to sustain the ecological functioning of the PAD under the circumstances of existing and planned future dams and water withdrawals. These assessments should incorporate projections of climate change and should determine the cumulative effects on the PAD and the property of flow regulation of all existing and proposed dams on all three rivers.

Recommendation 4

(Environmental Assessment) 

Conduct, in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, an environmental and social impact assessment of the Site C project and, if moved forward, any other hydropower projects potentially affecting the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.

Recommendation 5

(Environmental Assessment) 

Conduct an environmental and social impact assessment of the proposed Teck Frontier oil sands mine project in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, fully taking into account the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, including the Peace-Athabasca Delta.

Recommendation 6

(Tailings Ponds Risk Assessment) 

Conduct a systematic risk assessment of the tailings ponds of the Alberta Oil Sands region with a focus on risks to the Peace-Athabasca Delta, and submit the report of this assessment to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

Recommendation 7

(Environmental Flows and Hydrology) 

Establish adequate baseline hydrological information of the Peace and Athabasca River Basins to enhance the reference for monitoring and assessing current and future hydrological conditions.

Recommendation 8

(SEA - Completed) 

Expand the scope of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which was requested by the Committee in its Decision 39 COM 7B.18, so that it adequately reflects the scale, pace and complexity of industrial development, land use changes and river flow manipulations in the Peace and Athabasca River watersheds, both in terms of individual and cumulative impacts.

Recommendation 9

(Environmental Assessment) 

Expand the scope of monitoring and project assessments to encompass possible individual and cumulative impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and in particular the PAD.

Recommendation 10

(Conservation Area Connectivity) 

Conduct a comprehensive assessment of options, in order to underpin decision-making to put in place an effective buffer zone, as defined in the Operational Guidelines. The Birch River deserves particular attention as the only relatively intact major watershed of the PAD.

Recommendation 11

(Conservation Area Connectivity) 

Conduct a systematic assessment of options to better realize synergies between the property and land use planning in its immediate vicinity, including the existing and planned provincial protected areas.

Recommendation 12

(Indigenous Partnerships with WBNP) 

Consolidate the management resources and capacity to a standard commensurate with World Heritage status and adequately respond to the challenges facing the property by:

a) Reinstating a year round status and staffing of WBNP;

b) Recruiting a full-time Superintendent exclusively in charge of WBNP;

c) Ensuring an adequate Parks Canada presence in Fort Chipewyan, part of the critical Peace-Athabasca Delta area and a major ecological region of WBNP.

Recommendation 13

(Indigenous Partnerships with WBNP) 

Further develop the existing Cooperative Management Committee established by the State Party, and consolidate a functional and effective mechanism to involve Aboriginal Peoples in the management of the property.

Recommendation 14

(Indigenous Partnerships with WBNP) 

Ensure that the preparation and skills of involved governmental staff correspond to the requirements inherent in the evolving relationship with First Nations and Métis communities.

Recommendation 15


Further harmonize and adopt the Species Recovery Strategy for Wood Bison throughout its range, including but not limited to the Greater WBNP Ecosystem, and specifically:

a) Urgently invest in comprehensive and independent analysis of the conservation importance and status of the Ronald Lake Bison Herd, including threats to it posed by proposed development, within a broader Species Recovery Strategy;

b) Dedicate, in full cooperation with Aboriginal Peoples, adequate attention and funding to the management of Wood Bison, including as regards the development of disease management options other than culling.

Recommendation 16


Continue to closely monitor the entire used and potential nesting area of the Whooping Crane within the Greater WBNP Ecosystem so as to be able to respond to possibly changing management requirements.

Recommendation 17

(Monitoring and Science) 

Incorporate invasive alien species (IAS) into the overall monitoring of the property and the PAD based on science and local and indigenous knowledge, and based on monitoring results, develop an appropriate management response to control the spread of IAS.

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