EXPLORE Wood Buffalo National Park with this slideshow, check the location map and get all the facts and information below.
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Location and Values: The Wood Buffalo National Park covers a vast area – slightly larger than Switzerland – in north-central Canada, straddling the state boundary between Alberta and the North West Territories. It protects the world’s largest inland delta together with extensive tracts of boreal forest and prairie grasslands. North America’s largest population of wild bison is found here, and it is the only place in the world where the predator-prey relationship between wolves and bison has co-existed continuously over time. Furthermore, Wood Buffalo National Park provides the only remaining breeding habitat for the whooping crane, an endangered species that has been brought back from the brink of extinction through rigorous protection here.
Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2020) the conservation status of Wood Buffalo National Park is of ‘significant concern’. The IUCN report recognizes that the site’s vast size and remote location provide for a generally good state of conservation at present, but expresses concern over possible future impacts of developments beyond the park boundaries. In particular there is concern about massive industrial development along the Peace and Athabasca River corridors (including the Alberta oil sands developments), which feed into the park and maintain the delta wetland system. The risks include hydrological alterations due to water abstraction, discharge of toxic pollution from the oil industry and breaches of tailings ponds. There are proposals for hydropower developments on the inflowing rivers, while climate change remains an ever-present threat with uncertain long-term consequences for the ecology of the site.
The slideshow ‘tells the story’ of Wood Buffalo National Park starting with a series of aerial photos to illustrate the landscape features of this outstanding place, with the complex wetland habitats of the Peace-Athabasca Delta and the vast tracts of boreal forest interspersed with more open habitats of the prairie grasslands. Some of the key wildlife species are shown, including the park’s iconic ‘flag-bearers’ – bison, wolf and whooping crane. Other prominent species occurring in Wood Buffalo National Park are also shown, including pelicans, beavers, lynx and black bear. The park is a good place to witness the northern lights (Aurora borealis, a spectacular night-time light show resulting from disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind). The slideshow continues with photos of the salt plains, and the Slave River lowland with its extensive karst topography. Finally a couple of photos are included to illustrate some risks to the park, including ‘development’ opportunities created by new roads and greater access, and the ever-present risk of fire.
The following Flickr photographers and other sources are acknowledged with thanks for their contributions to this slideshow: Janusz Sliwinski, Wilson Hul, Scott Lough, Mark Kent, Erin, Tim Lumley, J.D. McKinnon, Wild Knife Photography, Wikipedia, Delhi Planet, The Guardian, Nicholas Boullosa, sf-dvs, CTV News, Tripadvisor, Everywhere Travel Blog, CBC, DaseInDesign and National Geographic