Canada misses deadline to submit plan to save Wood Buffalo

Canada has missed its December 1 deadline to submit an updated plan to save Wood Buffalo National Park’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

In June 2018, Ottawa said it would spend $27.5 million to save the park from being listed as endangered, which the United Nations body said would happen if Canada didn’t provide an “adequately funded” plan to protect Wood Buffalo from environmental threats.

That plan was originally due on December 1, 2018, a date later changed to February 1, 2019.


In June 2019, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee said Canada’s first attempt at a plan needed “considerably more effort … to reverse the negative trends.”

In particular, UNESCO told Canada the plan needed to include more detail on the impact of BC Hydro’s Site C hydro project and other dams on the Peace River, as well as the effects of oilsands tailings ponds in Alberta.

UNESCO gave the federal government nearly a year and a half to update its plan, asking for a revised plan by December 1, 2020.

“We have notified the World Heritage Centre that we are still finalizing the report and expect it will be submitted shortly,” Rola Salem, a spokesperson for Parks Canada, said by email.

“We remain committed to protecting Wood Buffalo National Park. That is why we have a comprehensive action plan and we will continue to implement it to ensure the park remains a treasured place for generations to come,” she wrote, reiterating word-for-word the same statement Parks Canada sent to Cabin Radio two and a half years ago.


It’s unclear if the federal government has begun to implement any of the necessary steps to save Wood Buffalo, or if Canada is waiting until after UNESCO reviews the plan again, in 2021, to begin implementation.