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Historic agreement protects more than 160,000 hectares of land near Wood Buffalo Nation park

Last Updated Mar 12, 2019 at 11:44 am MDT

PHOTO. Supplied. Alberta Government. The Ronald Lake Bison Herd in the newly established Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland.

More than 160,000 hectares of land, just south of Wood Buffalo National Park will be protected thanks to the newly created Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland conservation.

It will protect the Peace-Athabasca watershed and habitat for at risk species like the woodland caribou and the Ronald Lake Bison herd while also supporting traditional Indigenous uses and sustainable development.

Kitaskino Nuwenëné means “our land” in both Cree and Dene.

Initially proposed by Mikisew Cree First Nation, the wildland is a way of addressing concerns raised in a 2016 UNESCO report on Wood Buffalo National Park

“Protecting this area is part of Mikisew’s stewardship vision for our lands and waters. This new park will help conserve areas that are important to our people and provide greater certainty that Mikisew ancestral lands can be monitored and better protected,” said Mikisew Cree First Nation Chief Archie Waquan in a press release.

Originally the idea was to have the wildland be a Biodiversity Stewardship Area and after months of collaboration between Indigenous groups, industry and other stakeholders, federal and provincial governments and public consultation, it will add to the largest contiguous area of boreal protected land in the world.

“We appreciate the collaborative efforts by industry and the provincial and federal governments to make this park a reality and their recognition of our inherent commitment to protecting our rights,” said Chief Waquan.

Teck, Cenovus Energy and Imperial voluntarily relinquishing oilsands and mining leases and played a vital role in securing the land base for the new wildland.