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Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park Expansion
Friday Read and Science | May 2022

Ashley Johnson, Education and Outreach Coordinator

Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park was established in 2019, and was expanded in February 2022. A portion of this park is located in the Athabasca Watershed, and the recent expansion was intended, among other things, to increase watershed protection, in support of UNESCO’s assessment of the Peace-Athabasca Delta. It will also create a conservation buffer to support the UNESCO Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site. The park’s name comes from Kitaskino, meaning “our land” in Cree, and Nuwenëné, meaning “our land” in Dene. This blog post will answer the following questions that you may have thought about after reading this introduction: “What does it mean to add a conservation buffer to a National Park?”, “How is a Wildland Provincial Park different from a National Park?”, and “What types of protected areas are there?” 

What does it mean to add a conservation buffer to a National Park? A buffer zone, or conservation buffer, is an area (usually adjacent to an existing protected area) that is managed to provide an extension of habitat area for wildlife and provide benefits to nearby communities with fewer restrictions than the existing protected area. The idea of a conservation buffer in conservation biology is to add further protection to a protected area. They are supposed to help prevent disturbances from surrounding areas, act as an extension of the protected area, and potentially better integrate parks and people. 

How is a Wildland Provincial Park different from a National Park? The first broad difference is that National Parks are governed under the Canadian National Parks Act and are the responsibility of the federal government (Parks Canada). Wildland Provincial Parks are governed under the Provincial Parks Act and are remote wilderness areas (unlike regular provincial parks, which have facilitated recreation areas). Functional differences in the governance of Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland versus Wood Buffalo National Park: Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland is designed so that First Nations and Metis communities can exercise their Treaty and harvesting rights, and practice cultural activities. As a National Park, Wood Buffalo has a more complicated history regarding the recognition of Treaty rights, which are still not explicitly included in the site’s world heritage values.  

What types of protected areas are there? The IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, recognizes different types of protected areas, depending on what types of activities are allowed within them: Ia Strict Nature Reserve; Ib Wilderness Area; II National Park; III National Monument or Feature; IV Habitat/Species Management Area; V Protected Landscape/Seascape; VI Protected area with sustainable use of natural resources. Classes Ia and Ib limit human impacts the most, whereas the aim of Class VI area is not to protect them from human interference, and they may have the sustainable use of natural resources. How would you classify Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland using the IUCN categories? Comment on this post! 

The cross-hatched area shows where the park has been expanded. To see the map in higher resolution, click here

Learn more about Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park: