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Gros Morne National Park

Canada
Factors affecting the property in 2018*
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Oil and gas
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Oil and gas (petroleum exploration in the vicinity of the World Heritage property)
  • Management systems/ management plan (no buffer zone around the property)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2018
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2018**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 1 December 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/419/documents/, and reports the following:

  • The “pause” on onshore and onshore-based petroleum exploration using hydraulic fracturing outside the property remains in place, and will remain until a full assessment of the recommendations of the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydraulic Review Panel has been completed. Industrial resource extraction inside the property is prohibited, both on and below the surface;
  • There are no active exploratory licenses in the offshore area immediately adjacent to the property and the province is not accepting any new hydraulic fracturing projects. Parks Canada is also taking measures to formalise protocols for interagency collaboration on resource extraction and land use management in areas adjacent to the property;
  • Parks Canada will seek representation on the Review Panel for the interim review of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the western portion of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area – to open in 2019 – which may provide an opportunity to give consideration to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  • A section on OUV of the property will be included in the upcoming SEA of the next Gros Morne National Park Management Plan;
  • The existing legislation and regulation are sufficient to provide long-term protection to the property without defining a buffer zone. In this context, Parks Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador are developing a land-use advisory committee, comprising of provincial government department representatives and Parks Canada, which would advise Parks Canada concerning resource extraction and development project proposals around the property.

The State Party considers that a Reactive Monitoring mission was not required as the “pause” on oil exploration is still in place.

On 18 August and 20 September 2016, the World Heritage Centre transmitted to the State Party, third party information raising concerns about possible impacts from a potential hydrocarbon exploration project in the Old Harry prospect. The State Party responded on 31 March 2017 clarifying that the proposed exploratory drilling project is located approximately 200km southwest of Gros Morne National Park, and has been subject to an environmental assessment process since 2011.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2018

The clarification on the prohibition of industrial resource extraction inside the property is welcomed, and the ongoing “pause” on hydraulic fracturing outside the property is appreciated. However, the pause does not appear to be a formal moratorium, but rather “an operational decision of the provincial Department of Natural Resources”, as stated in the 2016 Newfoundland & Labrador Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel report.

Whilst the current “pause” on hydraulic fracturing has been effective, it would seem appropriate that more long-term substantive measures are put in place as a matter of priority to prevent future oil and gas licenses in the vicinity of the property. Recalling that the Newfoundland & Labrador Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel report was presented in late spring 2016, clarification is needed on when a full assessment of its recommendations will be completed, and it should be ensured that the “pause” remains in place until the appropriate measures are taken, not just until the assessment of the recommendations has been completed. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee reiterate 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 “pause” is discontinued without putting in place appropriate measures for maintaining OUV.

The affirmation that there is no active exploratory license immediately adjacent to the property is welcomed. Nevertheless, it should be noted that any oil spills occurring southwest of the property could potentially have a negative impact due to the counter-clockwise flow of currents in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Therefore, potential exploratory drilling in the Old Harry prospect (License EL-1153) southwest of the property is of concern. It is furthermore of concern that a map of the Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, dated 15 January 2017, indicates that there is an active onshore-to-offshore exploration license approximately 40km southwest of the property (Lake Harbour in the Bay of Islands area; License 1120), and an active offshore exploration license about 80km away (License 1070). It is therefore recommended that in case  any licence would be awarded and activated, adequate safeguards be put in place and that the awarded licenses are preceded by rigorous Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, taking into account relevant environmental factors such as flow of currents and wind regime.

Although the State Party considers that existing legislation and regulation are sufficient to provide long-term protection to the property without defining a buffer zone, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN regard the establishment of a buffer zone as a key tool to ensure that the property will not be impacted by adverse developments such as future onshore and offshore oil and gas developments. This is also in line with paragraphs 103 to 107 of the Operational Guidelines, which recall that an adequate buffer zone should be provided wherever necessary for the proper protection of the property. The State Party’s reported progress in developing measures towards formalizing protocols for interagency collaboration and developing a land-use advisory committee are certainly encouraging, but they should feed into further discussions on developing a buffer zone. It is recommended that these initiatives ensure transparent engagement and consultations with local communities and civil societies.

The consideration of the property’s OUV in the interim review of the SEA for the western portion of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area would be valuable and should be strongly encouraged. The State Party intends to include a section on OUV in the SEA of the next management plan, which is considered beneficial provided there is clarification on how this addresses the primary concern of reviewing the threats of the extractive industry and tourism development on the property.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2018
42 COM 7B.73
Gros Morne National Park (Canada) (N 419)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.94, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Welcomes the clarification provided by the State Party that industrial resource extraction inside the boundaries of the property, both on and below the surface, is not permitted;
  4. Requests the State Party to ensure that long-term, substantive measures are introduced to prevent future oil and gas licences being awarded in the vicinity of the property as a matter of priority, and before the “pause” on hydraulic fracturing outside the property is lifted;
  5. Noting that the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydraulic Review Panel’s recommendations were presented in May 2016, also requests the State Party to clarify when a full assessment of the recommendations will be completed, and submit the final analyses to the World Heritage Centre;
  6. Also noting the potential negative impact on the property from hydrocarbon exploration in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, further requests the State Party to ensure that any potential exploration licenses located in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence are subject to adequate safeguards and rigorous Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, with a specific section focusing on the potential impact of the project on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and submit a copy to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  7. Notes with appreciation that the State Party is developing measures towards formalizing protocols for interagency collaboration on resource extraction and land use management in areas adjacent to the property, and is also establishing a land-use advisory committee, but considers that the establishment of a buffer zone remains a key tool to ensure that the property will not be impacted by adverse developments such as future onshore and offshore oil and gas developments, and therefore requests furthermore to the State Party to establish an appropriate buffer zone as part of wider protection measures through transparent consultations with local communities and civil society;
  8. Strongly encourages the State Party to provide input to the interim review of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the western portion of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area to consider the OUV of the property, particularly to review the threats of extractive industry;
  9. Also 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 “pause” on acceptance of such applications is discontinued without putting in place other appropriate measures for maintaining the OUV of the property;
  10. Requests moreover the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.
Draft Decision: 42 COM 7B.73

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.94, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Welcomes the clarification provided by the State Party that industrial resource extraction inside the boundaries of the property, both on and below the surface, is not permitted;
  4. Requests the State Party to ensure that long-term, substantive measures are introduced to prevent future oil and gas licences being awarded in the vicinity of the property as a matter of priority, and before the “pause” on hydraulic fracturing outside the property is lifted;
  5. Noting that the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydraulic Review Panel’s recommendations were presented in May 2016, also requests the State Party to clarify when a full assessment of the recommendations will be completed, and submit the final analyses to the World Heritage Centre;
  6. Also noting the potential negative impact on the property from hydrocarbon exploration in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, further requests the State Party to ensure that any potential exploration licenses located in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence are subject to adequate safeguards and rigorous Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, with a specific section focusing on the potential impact of the project on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and submit a copy to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  7. Notes with appreciation that the State Party is developing measures towards formalizing protocols for interagency collaboration on resource extraction and land use management in areas adjacent to the property, and is also establishing a land-use advisory committee, but considers that the establishment of a buffer zone remains a key tool to ensure that the property will not be impacted by adverse developments such as future onshore and offshore oil and gas developments, and therefore requests furthermore to the State Party to establish an appropriate buffer zone as part of wider protection measures through transparent consultations with local communities and civil society;
  8. Strongly encourages the State Party to provide input to the interim review of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the western portion of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area to consider the OUV of the property, particularly to review the threats of extractive industry and expanding tourism development on the property;
  9. Also 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 “pause” on acceptance of such applications is discontinued without putting in place other appropriate measures for maintaining the OUV of the property;
  10. Requests moreover the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.
Report year: 2018
Canada
Date of Inscription: 1987
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2017) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 42COM (2018)
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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