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World Heritage: Canada

Ivvavik/Vuntut/Herschel Island (Qikiqtaruk)



Name of country: CANADA

List drawn up by:
Parks Canada Agency
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau (Quebec) J8X 0B3

Date: March 2004




YUKON 68 ° N – 139,5 ° W


Together, Ivvavik National Park of Canada, Vuntut National Park of Canada, and Herschel Island (Qikiqtaruk) Territorial Park comprise 15 500 km2 of wilderness on the Yukon coastal plain, Richardson Mountains, a portion of the Old Crow Flats wetlands and an arctic island in the Beaufort Sea. Together, these parks comprise a land rich in wildlife, in variety of landscape and in vegetation. This area was not glaciated, and forms part of the Beringia corridor as evidenced in its rich assemblage of archeological and palaeontological deposits. Major rivers flow through the coastal plain, cutting spectacular canyons on their way to the Beaufort Sea. Part of the area, the Old Crow Flats, is a Ramsar site internationally recognized for breeding and migratory water howl. Three species of bear are found in parts of the area, along with a host of other wildlife, including Dall sheep and moose. The area supports close to 10 percent of the world’s caribou population, with the Porcupine Herd numbering close to 123 000 animals. A portion of the calving grounds for the herd is located in Ivvavik National Park of Canada. This is the land of the Inuvialuit and Vuntut Gwitchin, who have hunted, fished and traded in the region for thousands of years. The cultural landscape’s rich and complex human history is expressed through archaeological evidence and oral history. A key area to the peopling of North America, it illustrates successive occupations over thousands of years of adaptation to evolving climatic episodes. During preparation of nomination documentation, careful consideration will be given to final proposed boundaries to include all of parts of nearby protected areas, for example Fishing Branch Ni’iinlii’njik Territorial Park (7 000 km2), which is located south of Vuntut National Park of Canada.


Criteria met:

(iv) Together, Ivvavik, Vuntut and Herschel Island is an outstanding example of a landscape which illustrates the very early human occupation of northwest North America via the Bering Yukon Refugium;

(v) It is an outstanding example of traditional land use representative of two distinctive Aboriginal cultural traditions adapting to the extreme environment of the Coastal Plain, the North Slope, the Old Crow Basin and Herschel Island;

(vii) It possesses scenic beauty and natural phenomena, with mountains, wetlands, wild rivers and migrating wildlife spectacles;

(viii) It illustrates geological processes relating to Pleistocene events and Beringia;

(x) It includes significant biological diversity, its wide range of species including caribou, bear, waterfowl and marine life.

Assurances of authenticity and/or integrity:

Both national parks are managed by Parks Canada in cooperation with the Inuvialuit (Ivvavik) and the Vuntut Gwitchen (Vuntut), according to the provisions of land claim settlements, and both have management plans. Herschel Island (Qikiqtaruk) Territorial Park was the first territorial park established in Yukon and is managed under the Parks and Land Certainty Act.

Comparison with other similar properties:

No other natural World Heritage Sites are found within the Alaskan Tundra Biogeographical Province. Perhaps no where else in the world do high mountains, boreal forest, tundra and expansive wetlands come together in such a rich way to form the living fabric of the arctic wilderness. No other site in Beringia contains such varied and extensive palaeontological deposits. No other protected area includes all three species of bear. Other sites in the Arctic support equivalent or greater populations of caribou and migratory waterfowl (e.g., the Bathurst, Beverly and Bluenose caribou herds, and the total bird populations in Queen Maud Gulf).