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Gros Morne National Park

Canada
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Oil and gas
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Petroleum exploration in the vicinity of the World Heritage property
  • No buffer zone around the property
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2016**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 30 November 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/419/documents/, and reports the following:

  • There continues to be no possibility of onshore and onshore-based petroleum exploration using hydraulic fracturing in the property given the existing moratorium;
  • An independent Newfoundland and Labrador Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel has been established to conduct a public review of the socio-economic and environmental implications of hydraulic fracturing in Western Newfoundland. The report, including recommendations on future actions concerning hydraulic fracturing, was scheduled to be released in February 2016, and was postponed to late spring 2016;
  • A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the western portion of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area has been published;
  • Parks Canada held meetings with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and concluded that the existing legislation and regulation provides a sufficient and effective framework to ensure the long-term protection of the property without defining a buffer zone.

Following review of the above state of conservation report, the World Heritage Centre requested further details from the State Party specifically regarding the SEA, to which the State Party responded on 12 February 2016 with the following information:

  • The SEA was near completion when the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment was released, so retrofitting the SEA was considered to not be realistic;
  • Future oil and gas production proposals will be subject to project-level environmental impact assessments (EIAs) that consider the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and therefore it was not the State Party’s intentions to incorporate these at this stage in the SEA.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2016

It is recommended that the Committee welcome the continued moratorium on onshore and onshore-based petroleum exploration using hydraulic fracturing, and that there are currently no active offshore licences in areas adjacent to the property or plans to initiate any process to issue licences in this offshore area. It is also recommended that, should the moratorium on acceptance for petroleum exploitation in the vicinity of the property be discontinued without putting other appropriate measures in place to maintain the OUV of the property, the State Party should invite a World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, as per the Committee’s previous request (Decision 37 COM 7B.18). It is considered that the moratorium should be used to ensure substantive measures are introduced to prevent future petroleum licences from being issued if they are likely to have a negative impact on the OUV of the property.

It is appreciated that the State Party will submit to the World Heritage Centre, a report by the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel, on the public and stakeholder consultation of hydraulic fracturing. It is noted that the report will be used to reassess the effectiveness of the existing legislation and regulation to protect the property in the long term, and that it will also influence the SEAs and project-level EIAs.

The State Party’s clarification of the intended purpose of the SEA is appreciated, and it is noted that the SEA was nearing completion when the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment was published. Nevertheless, it is considered that an assessment of potential impacts on the OUV of the property, including its conditions of integrity, as well as the identification of appropriate measures to avoid and/or mitigate such impacts would be required to inform the potential projects that could be considered before project-level EIAs are conducted.

It is appreciated that the State Party considered the Committee’s Decision 38 COM 7B.74 on buffer zones, and it is noted that the meetings on this matter concluded that an effective framework already exists. However, it is also noted that the public opinion poll conducted by the Review Panel revealed significant public support for a buffer zone and it is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to establish a buffer zone as part of the measures needed to ensure adequate protection of the property against oil and gas exploration when the current moratorium expires.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.94
Gros Morne National Park (Canada) (N 419)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 37 COM 7B.18 and 38 COM 7B.74, adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) and 38th (Doha, 2014) sessions respectively,
  3. Requests the State Party to ensure that substantive measures are introduced before the existing moratorium on onshore and onshore-based petroleum exploration using hydraulic fracturing expires, in order to prevent any future oil or gas licences from being issued inside the property, or issued outside the property where they could adversely impact its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  4. Notes that the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the western portion of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area, which is adjacent to the property, was nearing completion when the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment was published and that therefore, an assessment of impacts on OUV was not included in the SEA;
  5. Nevertheless, also requests the State Party to incorporate into the SEA, through an addendum or other appropriate means, an assessment of the impacts on the OUV of the property, including its conditions of integrity, and to identify appropriate measures to ensure that any such impacts are avoided or adequately mitigated;
  6. Also notes that the State Party, in consultation with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, concluded that the existing legislation and regulation provides a sufficient and effective framework to ensure the long term protection of the property without defining a buffer zone, but considers that the property may no longer be adequately protected against oil and gas exploration if the aforementioned moratorium expires before other appropriate protection measures are in place, and therefore further requests the State Party to consider establishing an appropriate buffer zone as part of wider protection measures;
  7. Reiterates its request to the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess the risks to the property’s OUV of petroleum exploration in its vicinity, in case the moratorium on acceptance of such applications is discontinued without putting in place other appropriate measures for maintaining the OUV of the property;
  8. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7B.94

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 37 COM 7B.18 and 38 COM 7B.74, adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) and 38th (Doha, 2014) sessions respectively,
  3. Requests the State Party to ensure that substantive measures are introduced before the existing moratorium on onshore and onshore-based petroleum exploration using hydraulic fracturing expires, in order to prevent any future oil or gas licences from being issued inside the property, or issued outside the property where they could adversely impact its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  4. Notes that the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the western portion of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area, which is adjacent to the property, was nearing completion when the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment was published and that therefore, an assessment of impacts on OUV was not included in the SEA;
  5. Nevertheless, also requests the State Party to incorporate into the SEA, through an addendum or other appropriate means, an assessment of the impacts on the OUV of the property, including its conditions of integrity, and to identify appropriate measures to ensure that any such impacts are avoided or adequately mitigated;
  6. Also notes that the State Party, in consultation with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, concluded that the existing legislation and regulation provides a sufficient and effective framework to ensure the long term protection of the property without defining a buffer zone, but considers that the property may no longer be adequately protected against oil and gas exploration if the aforementioned moratorium expires before other appropriate protection measures are in place, and therefore further requests the State Party to consider establishing an appropriate buffer zone as part of wider protection measures;
  7. Reiterates its request to the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess the risks to the property’s OUV of petroleum exploration in its vicinity, in case the moratorium on acceptance of such applications is discontinued without putting in place other appropriate measures for maintaining the OUV of the property;
  8. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Report year: 2016
Canada
Date of Inscription: 1987
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2015) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 40COM (2016)
Exports

* : 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”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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