Canada has eight months to develop a detailed plan to improve the health of Wood Buffalo National Park or risk having the United Nations add it to a list of world heritage sites considered to be in danger.
Canada’s largest national park has been a world heritage site since 1983. In March, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization issued a report warning the park was at risk from industrial development and would be designated “in danger” if Canada didn’t implement 17 recommendations to save the park.
Recommendations include improved staffing, better collaboration with Indigenous partners on the park’s management, and a risk management review of oil sands tailing ponds, focused on the impact on the Peace-Athabasca delta.
UNESCO visited the park last fall following a complaint from the Mikisew Cree Nation in 2014, concerned with the impact oil sands development and hydroelectric dams were having.
In a letter to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna this week, Melody Lepine, director of government and industry relations for the Mikisew Cree Nation, said the First Nation hasn’t been able to even get a single meeting with Parks Canada to start talking, nor could it get information on who at Parks Canada is working on the matter.
Canada has until February 2018 to show its plan to meet those recommendations and another deadline of December 2018 to show progress on that plan.