CPAWS elated with the establishment of Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park

EDMONTON – On March 11, 2019, the Government of Alberta announced the establishment of Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park in northeast Alberta, just south of the Wood Buffalo National Park boundary. The establishment of this area reflects the Government of Alberta’s ongoing commitment to recognize and uphold the Treaty Rights of Indigenous peoples and protect places with cultural, social, and ecological value to Indigenous communities. CPAWS applauds the tireless work of the Mikisew Cree First Nation that first proposed this protected area to preserve their traditional uses. Industry partners should be commended for their voluntarily abandonment of mineral leases within the Park boundaries, reflecting meaningful and coordinated efforts by all stakeholders to ensure functional protection of this Wildland Provincial Park.

In particular, CPAWS is happy to see that the final boundary encompasses much of the herd range for the Ronald Lake wood bison herd. American bison are believed to now encompass only 1% of their historical range, with this herd being the largest and most genetically-diverse population of wood bison. The Park contributes to a buffer of protected areas around the vulnerable Wood Buffalo National Park, and in particular, the Peace-Athabasca Delta. The rapid degredation of the Delta and conservation value of Wood Buffalo National Park has been linked to increasing industrial impacts from outside Wood Buffalo’s boundaries. This Park—as it prohibits most industrial development—will work toward minimizing impacts on the Delta from external cumulative impacts.

The final park boundaries shift from the original boundaries proposed by the Mikisew Cree First Nation. The Government of Alberta cites conflict with industrial activities for the adjustments. Given this compromise in park integrity, CPAWS is intent on seeing follow through on cooperative management between the provincial government and interested Indigenous communities and the co-development of park management plans. CPAWS also supports a potential Indigenous Guardian Program, which should be matched by a commitment for long-term funding to ensure the success of the program.

Overall, CPAWS is excited to see this step taken by the provincial government. CPAWS looks forward to seeing continued collaboration—not just consultation—, and eventually true co-management, with Indigenous peoples in Alberta.

For more information:

Gillian Chow-Fraser
Boreal Program Manager
CPAWS Northern Alberta 
Email: [email protected]