Newspaper article The Canadian Press

More Staff, Artificial Flooding among Plans to Save Wood Buffalo National Park

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

More Staff, Artificial Flooding among Plans to Save Wood Buffalo National Park

Article excerpt

Feds reveal plan to save Wood Buffalo park

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OTTAWA - The federal government intends to save the international heritage status of Canada's largest national park by increasing staffing, better monitoring oil-sands tailings and artificially recreating spring flooding to rejuvenate the park's waterways.

Ottawa submitted a 96-page action plan to save the Wood Buffalo National Park to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization Friday to stave off having the park designated as "in danger" due to poor management practices.

UNESCO warned Canada in 2017 that the park was in a bad state after receiving a complaint from the Mikisew Cree First Nation two years earlier.

Canada had until Friday to submit its response plan, which UNESCO will consider at its July meeting before deciding whether the park continues is marked as "in danger." That could lead to it being delisted as a world heritage site altogether.

World-heritage status designates important cultural and natural locations around the world as being in need of proper conservation. There are more than 1,000 such sites worldwide, about 50 of which are currently listed as "in danger."

Wood Buffalo National Park covers 45,000 square kilometres of forests, wetlands and grasslands that straddle the border of Alberta and the Northwest Territories. The park is home to the largest free-roaming wood-bison herd, the last breeding ground for whooping cranes and one of the largest inland river deltas in the world.

The Mikisew Cree say climate change, hydro dams and the oil sands are having catastrophic effects on the ecosystem in Wood Buffalo National Park, which received world-heritage status in 1983.

Mikisew spokeswoman Melody Lepine says the action plan as written is well-designed and if it is actually implemented it could help restore the ecosystem to its previous health. …

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