Strategic Environmental Assessment of potential cumulative impacts of all developments on the World Heritage Values of Wood Buffalo National Park


In response to a request from the World Heritage Committee, Parks Canada has completed a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the potential cumulative impacts of all developments on the world heritage values of Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site. The SEA presents the best available information (Indigenous traditional knowledge and science) on activities and trends that may be having negative impacts on the world heritage values of the site.

The focus of the assessment is cumulative effects on the features and species that are relevant to the park's designation as a world heritage site. Additional information on the status of Wood Buffalo National Park as a world heritage site is available on the Overview page.

Completion of the SEA fulfils the World Heritage Committee’s 2015 and 2017 requests for Canada to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the potential cumulative impacts to the world heritage values of the site.

The SEA in relation to the Action Plan

Along with the recommendations from the Reactive Monitoring Mission report, the recommendations from the SEA are being used by Parks Canada to inform park management, and are being used by federal-provincial-territorial partners and others in the development of an Action Plan. For additional information, please refer to our Action Plan page.

Final Report

Following a final round of workshops, meetings, and a public comment period that closed on April 13, 2018, the final SEA report was completed on May 30, 2018. The Executive Summary is available here. The full SEA report has been shared with interested parties and submitted to the World Heritage Centre.

Engagement on the SEA

Working with the SEA contractor (Independent Environmental Consultants or IEC), Parks Canada managed the engagement process to ensure the SEA reflected a broad range of perspectives and presented complete information and balanced views.

Feedback and information received in meetings, workshops and written submissions helped improve the assessment and the final report. The SEA recognizes different perspectives and information gaps where they continue to exist. Recommendations from the SEA will be carried forward in continued dialogue related to the Action Plan and the long-term management of Wood Buffalo National Park and the surrounding area.

In August 2017, a Draft Scoping Report was made available for comment. Based on the feedback submitted to Parks Canada in September, the contractor prepared an addendum to the Draft Scoping Report which summarized the key messages received during the comment period and outlined how feedback expanded the scope of SEA and integrated ecological integrity and Indigenous ways of life along with the world heritage values.

In addition to the addendum and Draft Scoping Report, Parks Canada prepared two newsletters describing the process used to develop the SEA, which are also available on this web page. The SEA, at the scoping stage in August-September, 2017, throughout its development, and at the review stage in March-May, 2018, was developed with input from government partners, Indigenous groups, academic researchers, industry, and conservation organizations. Federal, provincial and territorial government partners received regular updates from Parks Canada, directed the contractor to sources of information, and Environment and Climate Change Canada in particular made relevant experts available to review draft content.

Considering the project was initiated by concerns raised by Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN), Parks Canada and IEC worked closely with MCFN and other Indigenous partners. The goal of the engagement process with Indigenous groups was to hear from a range of leaders, Elders, land-users and technical advisors in an iterative process, so that the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples are evident in the report, and so that participants had a clear understanding of how their input was being used by decision makers.


Parks Canada thanks the Indigenous groups and their advisors, government partners, academic researchers, and representatives of industry and conservation organizations for their interest in the SEA and their willingness to contribute time and share information.

Parks especially appreciates the contributions of Elders and land-users from Indigenous groups whose homelands are within the park. We sincerely thank the Elders for their time, and for their patience and passion in sharing their stories.