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Decision : CONF 001 VI.31-34
Wood Buffalo National Park (Canada)

31. The Bureau recalled that the Committee, at its last session, expressed serious concerns regarding the infection of the remaining 3,200 bison in this Park by brucellosis and tuberculosis, as well as with logging operations. The Bureau was informed of a longer term threat to the integrity of the site caused by activities upstream along the Peace/Athabasca Rivers, which include the expansion of pulp mills, logging operations and dam construction resulting in water pollution and loss of water quality, changes in the flooding regime and the gradual drying-up of the Athabasca delta. The Bureau noted that a large surface area is no longer an adequate basis to ensure the long-term integrity of the Wood Buffalo National Park, and similar World Heritage sites such as Yellowstone (USA), Serengeti (Tanzania) and Banc d'Arguin (Mauritania), and that an ecosystem management approach taking into account activities outside of the Park would be required.

32. The Delegate of Canada informed the Bureau that the Canadian Government, in consultation with interested parties, has reviewed options for a management programme, which will be announced shortly, for diseased bison of the Wood Buffalo National Park. This programme has already ruled out large-scale slaughter of bison as a management option and is likely to rely on a combination of techniques, including quarantine and treatment and, in some cases, removal of bison from the Park. The launching of the Bison Management Programme will probably include a statement acknowledging the principle of preserving the ecological/environmental integrity of the Park. The Delegate of Canada also informed the Bureau that the Canadian Government is now strictly enforcing forestry regulations and is negotiating with logging companies which have permits to seasonally log in the Park, in order to terminate logging operations well before the year 2002 - date at which all logging permits expire. The cessation of logging operations may remove resources now being used by pulp mills in the area.

33. The Delegate of Canada acknowledged the need to monitor activities outside the Park which may negatively impact the Park. The Delegate also informed the Bureau that a number of technological approaches have been developed and implemented to monitor water quality in the Peace and Athabasca Rivers and minimize the threat of the drying-out of the Athabasca Delta. A three to five year study, costing about 10 million dollars is underway to examine the Peace-Athabasca basin and the activities in that basin which affect water quality. The studyis a part of Canada's Green Plan for the Environment.

34. The Bureau noted that a number of Canadian non- governmental organizations had suggested that the Wood Buffalo National Park merited consideration for inclusion in the List of World Heritage in Danger. However, the Bureau acknowledged that the Canadian Government was taking appropriate measures to preserve the integrity of this Park. The Bureau requested the Canadian authorities to make special efforts both within the Park and throughout its entire drainage basin in order to retain and restore the integrity of this Park and provide information on the types and nature of technologies which are currently used for mitigating negative impacts on the Peace and Athabasca Rivers due to development activities. The Bureau agreed with the IUCN report that the Wood Buffalo National Park will, in many ways, be a test case for conservation of large, remote reserves and could provide lessons applicable elsewhere.

Context of Decision
Themes: Conservation
States Parties: Canada
Year: 1991
Decision Code: CONF 001 VI.31-34