Madam Speaker, in 2014, the Mikisew Cree First Nation submitted a petition to the World Heritage Committee requesting a monitoring mission to assess the state of conservation in Wood Buffalo National Park and the Peace-Athabasca Delta. The Mikisew Cree, like many Canadians, were concerned by the impacts of the Site C hydroelectric dam in British Columbia and the Alberta oil sands on this environmentally sensitive region.
From September 25 to October 4 last year, UNESCO's World Heritage Centre undertook a monitoring mission at the site. What it found was extremely disturbing, which is why I asked the minister this important question regarding this issue last April.
First and foremost, the centre found there is a poor relationship between the federal government and the first nations and Métis who reside in the area. In particular, the local knowledge and culture have been ignored as have the concerns of residents about the impacts of development on their traditional territories.
The centre also found that conservation has been a low priority in the area, and that Parks Canada's legal obligation to maintain and restore the ecological integrity of Wood Buffalo National Park has not been met. Regarding the Alberta oil sands, there has been a lack of environmental assessment or risk assessment in developing facilities, such as mines and tailings ponds. In fact, overall, the lack of understanding of the flows of the rivers, the hydrological conditions, the complexity of the area, and the impacts of development is quite shocking.
This brings us to the Site C dam, a major British Columbia project that would have tremendous impacts on the Peace-Athabasca Delta and the people, flora, and fauna that reside there, and which received federal and provincial approvals without adequate assessments, according to international standards.
The new NDP B.C. government is taking steps to review Site C by sending it to the B.C. Utilities Commission. We have hope that future projects of this magnitude will be developed with appropriate environmental assessments and first nations consultation before receiving a green light.
UNESCO is treating the federal government's neglect of Wood Buffalo National Park very seriously. It offered Canada one chance, and only one chance, to correct the deficiencies in how we treat this incredible treasure.
Let me talk a little bit about this treasure. Wood Buffalo National Park is the largest park in Canada and the second largest national park in the world. It is the 13th largest protected area in the world. It was established in 1922 to protect the world's largest herd of free roaming wood bison, and it is one of two known nesting sites for whooping cranes. It is also considered the world's largest dark sky preserve, leading to significant populations of bats, nighthawks, and owls.
This amazing area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983 for the biological diversity of the Peace-Athabasca Delta and for the population of wild bison. It is a tragedy that the diversity of the area, the ecological integrity of the park, and the livelihoods of those who live there are all at risk, as is the park's UNESCO designation because of the neglect of successive governments.
Last April 13, I asked the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, what action will she take to protect Wood Buffalo National Park and when will she take it? A year after the study was conducted, and more than six months since the report was released, we have still heard nothing from the Liberals on any actions to protect wood buffalo, other than the work of the—