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World Heritage Convention

Decision 41 COM 7B.2
Wood Buffalo National Park (Canada) (N 256)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.18, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Welcomes the State Party’s acknowledgement of the property’s challenges and vulnerability, and the commitment to embark on a major and participatory management response in the form of an overarching and coherent Action Plan, and requests the State Party to:
    1. Allocate adequate resources for the elaboration and implementation of the Action Plan as a matter of priority, and clarify the timeline for its completion,
    2. Ensure a process enabling fair, transparent and meaningful involvement of all legitimate stakeholders and rights-holders, including First Nations and Métis, based on mechanisms agreed by these stakeholders and rights-holders,
    3. Ensure the best possible coherence with all relevant planning schemes affecting the property, including at provincial and territorial levels,
    4. Fully reflect the results of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which should assess the cumulative impacts of all industrial developments on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and is scheduled for completion by the end of March 2018;
  4. Also welcomes the State Party’s support for the recommendations formulated by the 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission and also requests the State Party to fully implement all the mission’s recommendations and to ensure refinement of its preliminary views on the concrete follow-up so as to fully and consistently reflect the management responses to these recommendations in the above-mentioned Action Plan, the 2020 Management Plan and the specific Area Management Approach for the Peace-Athabasca Delta;
  5. Further welcomes the State Party’s commitment to invest in comprehensive and independent analysis of the conservation importance and status of the Ronald Lake Bison Herd, including threats to it posed by the proposed development, within a broader Species Recovery Strategy and to dedicate, in full cooperation with First Nations, adequate attention and funding to the management of Wood Bison, including as regards the development of disease management options other than culling;
  6. Further requests the State Party to make every effort to assess and understand the potential impacts of the Site C hydropower project and of the various major dams on the Peace River on the OUV of the property and ensure the application of best practice at all stages of the project, including mitigation measures and strategic flow regulation;
  7. Reiterates its requests to the State Party to assess the potential cumulative impacts of all developments on the OUV of the property in the form of an SEA, including hydroelectric dams, oil sands development, and mining, in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment and submit it to the World Heritage Centre as soon as it is available, for review by IUCN, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  8. Requests furthermore the State Party to conduct, in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines:
    1. An Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of any other hydropower projects potentially affecting the OUV of the property,
    2. An ESIA of any other oil sands development between the current northern frontier of the actively mined area and the property, which may affect the OUV of the property, including the Teck Frontier project,
    3. A systematic risk assessment of the tailings ponds of the Alberta Oil Sands region with a focus on risks to the Peace-Athabasca Delta;
  9. Requests moreover the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, a refined response to the 2016 mission recommendations and report on the progress achieved with their implementation, and to submit by 1 December 2018, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, including the Action Plan, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.
Decision Code
41 COM 7B.2
States Parties 1
State of conservation reports
2017 Wood Buffalo National Park
Decisions adopted during the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee (Krakow, 2017)
Context of Decision