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World Heritage Convention

Decision 43 COM 7B.15
Wood Buffalo National Park (Canada) (N 256)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 39 COM 7B.18 and 41 COM 7B.2, adopted at its 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Commends the State Party for having developed a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and an Action Plan to underpin and guide an adequate management response for the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including its conditions of integrity;
  4. Also commends the State Party for its efforts and renewed commitment to fair, transparent and meaningful involvement of all legitimate stakeholders and rights-holders, including First Nations and Métis, in line with the UNESCO policy on engaging with indigenous peoples;
  5. Welcomes the creation of a protected area complex next to the property through the designation of provincial parks, and also encourages the federal and the provincial governments to allocate adequate resources to enable effective coordination and management for the property and the new protected areas, and to consider the designation of a buffer zone for the property;
  6. Also welcomes the threat analysis undertaken for the Ronald Lake Bison Herd, and requests the State Party to fully consider the findings of the ongoing assessment in the overall Species Recovery Strategy;
  7. Noting with concern the continued threat the Site C hydropower project and other major dams on the Peace River pose on the OUV of the property, also requests the State Party to provide a detailed update on the progress towards undertaking an environmental flow and hydrology assessment as recommended in the 2016 mission;
  8. Appreciates that the Alberta’s tailings management framework is implemented and that a systematic risk assessment of the tailings ponds of the Alberta Oil Sands region is foreseen by the Action Plan, but notes with serious concern the potential and current cumulative impacts of 47 oil sands projects being considered besides the 37 already operating facilities;
  9. Also requests the State Party to conduct a systematic risk assessment of the tailings ponds of the Alberta Oil Sands as a matter of priority, and to submit it to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  10. Also notes with serious concern the downward trend confirmed by the SEA of the indicators for the property’s OUV, considers that continued deterioration of the OUV could eventually constitute a case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, therefore further requests the State Party to ensure that the SEA’s recommendations are fully considered in future Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and decision-making for relevant developments and that the Action Plan be implemented in a timely manner with adequate funding, in order to avert continued deterioration of the property’s OUV;
  11. Further welcomes the significant funding already assigned to the implementation of the Action Plan, but also considers that more funding will likely be needed given the size of the property and complexity of issues to address;
  12. Further encourages the State Party to take advantage of the pending Management Plan review for the property to further substantiate and amend the valuable information generated by the SEA and Action Plan processes and link action with adequate governance and resource allocation, including effective sharing of governance and management with indigenous peoples inside and outside of the property;
  13. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, including detailed information on the outcomes of continued assessments, mitigation and compliance measures, in relation to potential impacts of the Site C hydropower project and of other major dams on the Peace River on the OUV of the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session in 2021.
Decision Code
43 COM 7B.15
States Parties 1
State of conservation reports
2019 Wood Buffalo National Park
Decisions adopted during the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee (Baku, 2019)
Context of Decision