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World Heritage: Canada

Atikaki/Woodland Caribou/Accord First Nations (Pimachiowin Aki)

Manitoba and Ontario

Name of country: CANADA

List drawn up by:
Parks Canada Agency
25 Eddy Street
Gatineau (Quebec) K1A 0M5

Date: January 2008






First Nations in Manitoba and Ontario with the support of both provincial governments have proposed creating an internationally recognized network of protected areas and managed landscapes on their ancestral lands and to seek UNESCO designation of the area as a World Heritage Site. Set in the Canadian Shield, the project is known as Pimachiowin Aki and the project area contains 40,147 km2 of boreal forest that includes the First Nations' traditional lands and contiguous protected areas on both sides of the provincial border. The majority of the project area is comprised of the First Nations' Traditional Land Areas where ongoing land use planning will help to determine the boundary of a future World Heritage nomination. The parklands include Atikaki and South Atikaki Provincial Parks in Manitoba and Woodland Caribou Provincial Park, four proposed park additions and the Eagle – Snowshoe Conservation Reserve in Ontario. These parks and protected lands represent an area of natural and wilderness values covering over 8,500 km2. The First Nations' traditional lands and provincially designated lands together form part of the continuous coniferous boreal forest that extends across northern Canada.

The forest is dominated by stands of black spruce and jack pine, with a shrub layer of ericaceous shrubs, mosses and lichens. Secondary tree species include aspen, white birch, white spruce and balsam fir, with some species from the prairies and the eastern deciduous regions. Four rivers carve through the area, with associated cliffs, waterfalls and rapids. One of these rivers, the Bloodvein, has been recognized and designated as a Canadian Heritage River. Also found are typical landforms of the shield region, including glacial striae, till deposits and evidence of glacial Lake Aggasiz. The area provides an essential habitat for a segment of the threatened woodland caribou, and also protects habitat for the chestnut lamprey, a species of special concern. Other wildlife representative of the region includes black bears, wolves, lynx and owls, as well as lake trout, pike and walleye. Numerous archeological sites exist, helping to demonstrate that the area has long been of special significance to First Nations. The site was one of several protected areas in the circumpolar region recommended at the October 2003 Boreal forest workshop held in Russia for consideration as possible World Heritage nominations. This project area is considered part of the Midwestern Canadian Shield ecoregion, which is in turn part of the Canadian Taiga Biogeographical Province (Udvardy classification).


Criteria met:

(v) The site, which represents an outstanding example of traditional lifeways by Aboriginal people in the boreal ecozone, exemplifies a land use representative of a culture and human interaction with the environment;

(vii) It has exceptional natural scenic values, with wild rivers and extensive undisturbed boreal forests, lakes and wetlands;

(ix) It is an intact boreal landscape demonstrating a range of ecological processes relating to glacial history and fire ecology;

(x) It contains a good variety of species typical of the region as well as one threatened species (woodland caribou) and one species of special concern (chestnut lamprey).

Assurances of authenticity and/or integrity:

Both provincial governments are in the process of completing management plans for the provincial parks, and as well are jointly considering designating an “interprovincial wilderness area”(anticipated to be established in 2008). First Nations have proposed extensive lands surrounding the parks for inclusion in the site under consideration. The First Nations are striving to protect the land -- as an imperative to ensure the well being of their youth and the maintenance of their culture.

Comparison with other similar properties:

An extensive network of eight existing natural World Heritage Sites are found in the circumpolar boreal region (as defined by Larsen). These include three major sites in Russia -- Komi Virgin Forest (3.3 million ha), Lake Baikal (8.8 million ha) and Kamchatka Volcanoes (1.8 million ha). In Sweden the Laponia site is 940,000 ha. In Canada four sites in the boreal region exist: Wood Buffalo (4.5 million ha), Nahanni (480,000 ha), Gros Morne (180,000 ha) and the St. Elias parks complex (10 million ha, including the portion shared with the USA). In terms of size, the Manitoba-Ontario Canadian Shield Boreal Site, not including the adjacent Traditional Resource Areas, is much smaller except for Nahanni (which is a candidate for enlargement) and Gros Morne (which was inscribed for its geological and scenic reasons). Its wild river systems in terms of length and perhaps scenery are also secondary to those in several of the above sites. This site, however, is distinctive from all the above in terms of its location in the south-central Canadian Shield boreal shield ecoregion, where other species from adjoining ecozones are at the limits of their range. It is also the only one (except Gros Morne) containing woodland caribou. It is an intact area characterized by fire-dominated vegetation over shallow-soiled topography, dissected by fast flowing watercourses and interspersed with multiple lakes, ponds and wetlands. It embodies the notion of Canadian wilderness and has long provided sustenance for First Nations who continue to count on its bounty.

March 2004 Version