State of Conservation (SOC)
Wood Buffalo National Park (1989)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property
Total Amount Ap proved:0USD
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
Construction of a dam on the Slave River (issue resolved)
Current conservation issues
IUCN reported to the Bureau in June that over 50% of the hydrid bison herd in the park have been found to be infected with either tuberculosis and/or brucellosis. These diseased animals pose a threat to humans, domestic livestock, and disease-free wood bison herds. An environmental assessment panel is currently exploring at least four options of how to control this problem including the elimination of all diseased animals.
More recently, reports have come to hand of potential pollution of the national park that may be caused by proposed pulp and paper mill development in the country of Athabasca. The Canadian Parks Service of Environment Canada reports that a proposal for a bleached kraft mill is simply a large component of a major industrial development phase commencing in the north of the Province of Alberta fuelled by strong international markets for pulp and paper. The Parks Service says that due to the scale of these individual proposals and the potential for cumulative impacts, Federal interests would be affected including Wood Buffalo National Park.
As a result, the Federal Minister of the Environment has negotiated with the Alberta Government to ensure a federal presence in the environmental assessement process and a joint Federal/Provincial Environmental Assessment Review Board has been set up to review, among other things, potential impacts on Wood Buffalo National Park, and to recommend whether the proposed new mill could be constructed and operated in an environmentally satisfactory manner and, if so, what safeguards are needed and what conditions should be attached to any approval. The Canadian Parks Service stand is that "no impacts on... lands within the Park boundary are acceptable."
The Federal input into the issue is being coordinated by Dr. Len Good, Deputy Minister, Department of Environment, Canada and the Committee may consider it appropriate to draw to the attention of the Federal and Provincial authorities its concern that the integrity of Wood Buffalo National Park as a World Heritage site is maintained.
As the bison herd is one of the major values of this site, it is recommended that the Committee request to be kept informed of the results of the Panel review.
Link to the decision
Wood Buffalo National Park (Canada)
The Committee noted the report of IUCN and the clarification made by the Canadian delegation on the environmental assessment now proceeding into disease in the park's hybrid buffalo herd and the external threat which may result from proposed industrial development upstream from the park. The Committee noted the commitment of the Canadian delegation to maintain the site's integrity and asked that IUCN continue to contact the Canadian authorities and report back to the Bureau at its next session.
No draft Decision
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50% of the bison herd infected with either tuberculosis and/or brucellosis
The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).