A joint reactive monitoring mission by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) to assess the state of conservation of the World Heritage property “Wood Buffalo National Park” will take place from 25 September to 4 October 2016, at the invitation of Canada, and in keeping with the request made by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.

In line with World Heritage Committee Decision 39 COM 7B.18 (see whc.unesco.org/en/soc/3318), the objective of the monitoring mission is to assess the state of conservation of the property, as well as potential threats to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). In particular, the mission will review and assess:

  • the current effects of Peace River flow regulation activities associated with operation of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam and Peace Canyon Dam, on the OUV of the property;
  • the potential (cumulative) impacts of the planned Site C Hydroelectric Dam on the hydrological regime of the Peace-Athabasca Delta that could impact the OUV of the property and the ecological processes as they relate to the OUV of the property, also taking into account the effects of climate change; and
  • the impacts of existing and planned oil sands projects in the Athabasca oil sands region, as well as their associated tailings ponds, including the impact on movement of migratory birds, the development and implementation of monitoring programs and the ecosystems that support some of the traditional ways of life of indigenous communities.

The mission will hold consultations with the relevant Canadian authorities at the federal, provincial, and territorial levels, along with representatives of indigenous people as well as a range of relevant stakeholders, including: industry; non-governmental organizations (NGOs); and relevant scientists, researchers and experts.

The mission team will prepare a report that sets out recommendations for review by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and IUCN. The final report will be sent to the Government of Canada for consideration and will be included in the working documents related to the state of conservation of World Heritage properties to be examined by the World Heritage Committee at its forthcoming 41st session (July 2017, Kraków, Poland, see whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/41COM).