Alberta’s government is planning a massive expansion to the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland. Under the plan, 143,800 hectares of land will be added to over 160,000 hectares of protected boreal forests in northeastern Alberta. Almost all of the proposed expansion overlaps with a woodland caribou habitat and a small portion of the Ronald Lake bison herd range – both mammals that have been identified as species at risk. It also will increase watershed protection and will support treaty rights and activities of the Indigenous people who live in the area.
To get to this point, the Mikisew Cree First Nation led collaborative work on a potential expansion, and discussions occurred with other Indigenous communities, the Alberta Government and industry stakeholders. Among the industry partners, Athabasca Oil Corporation and Cenovus surrendered their Crown mineral agreements in the area. Athabasca president and CEO Rob Broen points out that his company relinquished over 95,000 hectares of mineral rights to support the park expansion. Cenovus’ chief sustainability officer noted that the park will help meet the provinces biodiversity and conservation goals.