The expansion adds more than 375,000 acres to the existing park in northeast Alberta, and to the largest contiguous area of protected boreal forest in the world. The total area of Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park is now more than 775,000 acres, about six times the size of Waterton Lakes National Park.
Collaboration between the Alberta government, federal government, Indigenous communities and industry made the expansion possible. The Mikisew Cree First Nation led the discussions, which began in 2019, and several companies surrendered Crown mineral agreements.
“The lasting legacy of Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park is an example of how Alberta’s energy companies and Indigenous communities, working together, can help achieve desired outcomes on Alberta’s Crown lands.”
Wildland provincial parks conserve wilderness while offering opportunities for backcountry recreation on lands that are relatively undisturbed. In addition to sustainable recreation opportunities, the expanded Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park will:
- support Indigenous People’s traditional activities, including the exercise of treaty rights
- protect the Peace-Athabasca watershed south of Wood Buffalo National Park
- conserve critical habitat for woodland caribou and bison
This expansion aligns with the Alberta Crown Land Vision, which guides Alberta’s management of the province’s rich, natural heritage of Crown lands.
Alberta’s government invested more than $300 million in 2020 and 2021 combined to enhance outdoor recreational opportunities, natural features and buildings in provincial parks and on public lands. All parks in Alberta’s parks system remain open and under the ownership of Environment and Parks, and will continue to retain their current designations and associated protections.
“Once again, we’ve proven that collaboration can produce results. Expansion of Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park continues to become an achievement to be recognized for generations to follow. The Elders provided the vision for protecting the Peace-Athabasca Delta, North America’s largest inland river delta, and important resources like woodland caribou and wood bison, and together we are delivering. We respectfully acknowledge the community support for the wisdom they shared in helping us identify the need to protect key watersheds for current and future generations. Canada’s Nature Fund helped us chart the collaborative strategy that allowed us to achieve this significant outcome with the support of our neighbouring nations, the provincial and federal governments and many partners in industry. We’ve proven that collaboration is a key to success.”
“This agreement is a watershed moment in understanding what happens when the provincial and federal governments, alongside First Nations and industry, work collaboratively for the benefit of all. This region has been a key component of the ecosystem that so much wildlife, including birds and caribou, rely on. The expansion of the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park will provide even more enjoyment for those who like to immerse themselves in northern Alberta’s beautiful natural areas, and presents a good opportunity to develop touristic opportunities in the region.”
“After years of careful planning and collaboration with the Mikisew Cree First Nation and the Government of Alberta, Athabasca Oil is pleased to play a role in expanding the culturally and ecologically significant Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park by contributing over 230,000 acres of mineral rights to the largest contiguous area of protected boreal forest in the world. The finalization of the park expansion represents a successful partnership for Indigenous communities, industry and Albertans.”
“The successful conclusion of this collaborative conservation process leading to the expansion of the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park is a great example of what can be achieved when government, Indigenous communities and industry work together to enhance protection of the environment. The contribution of leased land in the area demonstrates our commitment to sustainability leadership as a core element of Cenovus’s strategy and further progresses two of our key sustainability priorities – engagement with Indigenous communities and land stewardship, including the protection of caribou.”
“We are grateful that we could contribute to this important conservation effort. The Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park is an important place for supporting the recovery of woodland caribou and will enhance Canada’s future generations’ connection with the land. This has been an excellent example of collaboration between Indigenous communities, industry, the Government of Alberta and Albertans.”
- Kitaskino means "our land" in Cree and Nuwenëné means “our land” in Dene.
- There are 34 wildland provincial parks in Alberta.
- The Government of Alberta established the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park – more than 400,000 acres of land just south of Wood Buffalo National Park – in 2019.
- The expansion area is located between the Birch River Wildland Provincial Park and the existing Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park, south of Wood Buffalo National Park.
- The Government of Alberta gathered input from Albertans on the proposed expansion in February and March 2021. During engagement, an additional area was identified for inclusion in the expanded wildland, making the final expanded area more than 19,000 acres larger than anticipated.
- Almost all of the expansion area (98 per cent) overlaps with caribou habitat.
- The expansion area overlaps a small portion of the Ronald Lake bison herd range.
- The expansion adds to contributions the original Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park made to increase watershed protection in support of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Outstanding Universal Values of the Peace-Athabasca Delta, and creates a conservation buffer to support the UNESCO Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site.