Dinosaur Provincial Park

Canada
Inscribed in
1979
Criteria
(vii)
(viii)

In addition to its particularly beautiful scenery, Dinosaur Provincial Park – located at the heart of the province of Alberta's badlands – contains some of the most important fossil discoveries ever made from the 'Age of Reptiles', in particular about 35 species of dinosaur, dating back some 75 million years.
© UNESCO

Summary

2017 Conservation Outlook

Finalised on
09 Nov 2017
Good
The conservation outlook for the Dinosaur Provincial Park World Heritage Site is good. Currently, the outstanding scenic landscapes and the geological and palaeontological values and attributes of the site are in good condition and, generally, threats are of low concern. The ongoing concern of illegal removal of fossils requires both continuing education and enforcement. The emerging concern of increased visitation and its impact needs to be addressed in the near future.

The site is strongly protected, professionally managed under effective administrative regimes and enjoys the support from the local community and, in turn, the site's values support the local community economically.

Current state and trend of VALUES

Good
Trend
Stable
Overall, the current state and condition of the Outstanding Universal Values and attributes of the site are good due to the existing legislation and financial support.

Overall THREATS

Low Threat
Overall, the threats to values of the site can be assessed as low. Grazing and research can be considered as potential threats, but these pose a very low threat to the property. There are a number of current threats, but at present pose low threat to the key values of the property.

Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT

Highly Effective
Generally, the protection and management of the site is highly effective. There is a strong legal, administrative and management framework. With the exception of recent peak times, staffing and funding are adequate to meet current needs. Relationships with local communities and key stakeholders are good. Research and environmental monitoring are of the first order. Of some minor concern are the issues to do with invasive species control and continued enforcement of the illegal removal of fossils.

Full assessment

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Finalised on
09 Nov 2017

Description of values

Exceptional natural beauty

Criterion
(vii)
Stark “badlands” landscape displaying natural beauty with outstanding examples of landforms produced by fluvial erosion in former glacial conditions, semi-arid steppes and riparian areas supporting attractive and diverse plant cover (UNEP-WCMC 2012, World Heritage Nomination 1979, State Party of Canada 2006, State Party of Canada 1979, State Party of Canada 2014).

Outstanding examples of the earth's paleontology history and on-going geologic processess

Criterion
(viii)
A landscape of deeply eroded Cretaceous-age shales and sandstones dating from 75-77 million years ago when the climate was sub-tropical and lush forest covered a low, swampy coastal plain. The site is outstanding in the number and variety of high quality specimens representing every known group of Cretaceous dinosaurs. The diversity affords excellent opportunities for paleontology that is both comparative and chronological. Fossil remains of more than 23,000 specimens and 300 skeletons from 35 distinct species of dinosaur have been found at the site. Due to its exposure of Cretaceous sediments, the site also provides an excellent opportunity to conduct associated research on other fossil remains including fish, turtles, marsupials and amphibians (UNEP-WCMC 2012,World Heritage Committee 1992, World Heritage Nomination 1979, State Party of Canada 2006, State Party of Canada 1979, Brown et al. 2013, Brinkman et al. 2015, IUCN 2015, State Party of Canada 2014).
Threatened Plains riparian cottonwood vegetation communities; rich avifauna
Diverse vegetation of high quality and in various successional stages ranging from pioneer willow stands to cottonwood forest, tall shrubs, ephemeral wetlands and sagebrush flats. These are critical winter habitat for native ungulates such as pronghorn, mule and white-tailed deer. The site includes some 24 kilometres of Plains cottonwood riparian communities which are among the most threatened habitats in semi-arid regions. More than 150 species of birds are present, some of which are locally threatened or at their biogeographical limits, including golden eagle, prairie falcon and loggerhead shrike (UNEP-WCMC 2012, World Heritage Nomination 1979, State Party of Canada 2006, State Party of Canada 1979, State Party of Canada 2014).

Assessment information

Low Threat
Current threats are minor. Although the most problematic threat to the site’s paleontological values is from recurring, illegal removal of fossils, education, monitoring and enforcement generally provide adequate deterrents. The increasing level of visitation has the potential to become a more pronounced threat to the site's natural beauty, and the related social value of visitor experience, if a review of site capacity is not conducted, determined and coupled with appropriate infrastructure development.
Oil/ Gas exploration/development
Low Threat
Outside site
Gas exploration and development occurs on portions of the perimeter of the site and associated infrastructure has the potential to degrade the beauty of the site in those areas. The development is subject to resource impact assessments, guidelines to minimize visual impact and ongoing monitoring and the park agency is engaged in those reviews (UNEP-WCMC 2012, IBI Group 2010, State Party of Canada 2006, Anon 2004).
Other Activities
Low Threat
Inside site
, Localised(<5%)
Outside site
Illegal removal and pilfering of fossils remains a threat. Access to the restricted zone in the park is only permitted with a guide which reduces the occurrences (UNEP-WCMC 2012, IBI Group 2010, State Party of Canada 2006).
Invasive Non-Native/ Alien Species
Low Threat
Inside site
, Localised(<5%)
Outside site
Weed infestation occurs but mainly in moist areas and not in the “badlands” terrain. A monitoring and control program for invasive species is in place that addresses defined species but not all invasive species in the park have been recognized by the Agriculture Department of government for removal, hence funding for their removal is a challenge (State Party of Canada 2006, Anon 2004).
Tourism/ visitors/ recreation
Low Threat
Inside site
, Localised(<5%)
The appropriate level of park development within the park component of the site has been debated throughout the park's existence: seeking a balance between protection of the site's values and visitor use and experience. Visitation has recently spiked in peak months due to external tourism promotion and park facility development has not kept pace (UNEP-WCMC 2012, IBI Group 2010, State Party of Canada 2006, State Party of Canada 1979, State Party of Canada 2014).
Very Low Threat
Potential threats are also minor as all grazing and research involving excavations require a permit and all grazing is permitted under license.
Other Activities
Very Low Threat
Inside site
, Localised(<5%)
Research involving removal of in-situ specimens has the potential to alter the immediate environment.
Livestock Farming / Grazing
Very Low Threat
Inside site
, Throughout(>50%)
Outside site
Within the site, all pre-existing grazing rights, both inside and outside the park, are subject to regulation pursuant to lease agreements and are monitored on an ongoing basis. The current grazing management regime adequately mitigates any risk to the OUV of the site (UNEP-WCMC 2012, State Party of Canada 1979, Anon 2004).
Overall, the threats to values of the site can be assessed as low. Grazing and research can be considered as potential threats, but these pose a very low threat to the property. There are a number of current threats, but at present pose low threat to the key values of the property.
Relationships with local people
Effective
Personal relationships have been established with First Nations, ranchers and other landowners in areas both within and surrounding the site and many are directly engaged in assisting site managers with surveillance and monitoring (State Party of Canada 1979, State Party of Canada 2014, Confidential consultation 2017).
Legal framework
Highly Effective
Overall, the site is subject to the Historical Resources Act which prohibits the unauthorized excavation and collection of fossils. The majority of the site is further protected by designation and management as a provincial park under the Provincial Parks Act. Perimeter portions of the site outside the park are subject to land use policies of Special Area #2 under the Municipal Government Act. Special Area #2 is managed by a Board which ensures notification on leases such as domestic grazing to ensure site protection. The Special Board does not generally consider any other land use than grazing (UNEP-WCMC 2012,State Party of Canada 2006, State Party of Canada 1979, State Party of Canada 2014,Confidential consultation 2017).
Enforcement
Highly Effective
Enforcement under the three pieces of applicable legislation is carried out by park and Board management staff (State Party of Canada 2014,Confidential consultation 2017).
Integration into regional and national planning systems
Effective
Staff responsible for the management of the site, both inside and outside the park, have participated in regional planning initiatives. As with most government agencies, closer co-operation between the conservation management agencies and the tourism promotion agencies would ensure a better level of site management (Confidential consultation 2017).
Management system
Highly Effective
The administrative and management framework for the site is well developed between the provincial park management and the Special Area #2 municipal management (State Party of Canada 2014,Confidential consultation 2017).
Management effectiveness
Highly Effective
The site enjoys a draft management plan, developed with public input, for the provincial park component of the site and co-operative agreements with the Special Areas Board for the area outside the park. Annual operating plans are prepared and implemented In keeping with the management plan (State Party of Canada 2014, Confidential consultation 2017).
Implementation of Committee decisions and recommendations
Highly Effective
Previous Issues to do with boundary changes and the extent of the site have been the subject of Committee recommendations, all of which have been addressed (World Heritage Committee 1991 and 1992).
Boundaries
Highly Effective
The current boundaries are sufficient to maintain the integrity of the property (R7,R13).
Sustainable finance
Effective
Park development was based on a general local visitation however recent international marketing has resulted in increases in park visitation during the peak summer months. The balance of protection and extent of park development and management to address this recent change in visitation has yet to be addressed. Funding levels for staffing and support are adequate for the rest of the year. Previous studies recommended that the authorities seek to establish more business partnerships and identify additional sources of revenue (State Party of Canada 1979 and 2006).
Staff training and development
Highly Effective
Staff are generally well qualified and training opportunities are readily available (State Party of Canada 1979).
Sustainable use
Highly Effective
The permits authorizing grazing and recreational guiding within the park portion of the site ensure that those uses do not impact the site's values.
Domestic grazing outside the park is also leased and controlled to limit impact of the site's values. Notations are placed on the lease that the lease is within the World Heritage Site.
Education and interpretation programs
Highly Effective
Education and Interpretation programs are highly effective with a field office of the Royal Tyrell Museum at the site and an interpretation centre in the park devoted to the park's natural and cultural history as well as geological and paleontological resources.
Tourism and visitation management
Effective
The park's management plan and the Special Areas' plans and policies addresses the site's values and strives to ensure that management programs, as well as external policies on tourism, are supportive. As noted, management of tourism and visitation in the park portion of the site is highly effective for the majority of the year. However, recent tourism promotion has resulted in a significant increase in visitation in July and August: at times, beyond the capacity of the site's present infrastructure.This impact needs to be reviewed to consider its consistency and acceptability to ensure the site's values are maintained.

Environmental impact and facility design standards associated with Alberta provincial parks are implemented.

Facilities to capture tourists visiting the site are established at the entrance to the site.
Monitoring
Effective
As with most parks, monitoring focusses on visitors: monitoring of resources occurs as a secondary priority. Monitoring outside the park is done primarily by lease holders.
Research
Highly Effective
Both domestic and international scientific effort remains strong in all relevant fields of research and there are excellent professional relationships with research institutes. Individual research reviews with park staff could be strengthened as researchers can be tardy in sharing results (Confidential consultation 2017). Research results contribute to displays in the visitor centre and guiding management and researchers assist site managers as eyes in the field. Fossils from the property are held in collections of some 30 international institutions (UNEP-WCMC 2012,State Party of Canada 1979, Brown et al. 2013, Brinkman et al. 2015, State Party of Canada 2014).
Generally, the protection and management of the site is highly effective. There is a strong legal, administrative and management framework. With the exception of recent peak times, staffing and funding are adequate to meet current needs. Relationships with local communities and key stakeholders are good. Research and environmental monitoring are of the first order. Of some minor concern are the issues to do with invasive species control and continued enforcement of the illegal removal of fossils.
Assessment of the effectiveness of protection and management in addressing threats outside the site
Highly Effective
Outside threats are very low and primarily restricted to gas exploration. Staff are engaged to address visual quality objectives.
Best practice examples
The Park, in partnership with the Royal Tyrell Museum, has offered an opportunity for park visitors to learn about paleontology research by participating in day and overnight dinosaur dig programs for a fee.

In addition, there is a high-level, online process to review, co-ordinate and manage research permits to ensure both resource protection and meaningful scientific contributions.
World Heritage values

Exceptional natural beauty

Low Concern
Trend
Stable
The condition of scenic and aesthetic qualities of the site is of low concern. There is a need to address the recent increased visitation in the peak months.

Outstanding examples of the earth's paleontology history and on-going geologic processess

Good
Trend
Stable
Dinosaur fossils are widely recognized through continuing research and well protected by provincial legislation. As noted, there is a continuing problem regarding the illegal removal and pilfering of fossils and the need identified for management to respond with improved education, monitoring, surveillance and more vigorous prosecution of offences, remains (UNEP-WCMC 2012, World Heritage Nomination 1979, State Party of Canada 2006, State Party of Canada 1979).
Assessment of the current state and trend of World Heritage values
Good
Trend
Stable
Overall, the current state and condition of the Outstanding Universal Values and attributes of the site are good due to the existing legislation and financial support.
Assessment of the current state and trend of other important biodiversity values
Good
Trend
Stable
Research studies are subject to permit conditions.

Additional information

Importance for research,
Contribution to education
The site is an internationally significant source of knowledge about the former "Age of Dinosaurs". Large numbers of scientists from national and international institutions have conducted research in the site and new fossil discoveries are ongoing as more material is exposed by erosion. Fossil specimens are held in the collections of some 30 international institutions and education locally is provided by programs in the visitor centre.
Factors negatively affecting provision of this benefit
Climate change
Impact level - Low
Overexploitation
Impact level - Low
Soil stabilisation,
Water provision (importance for water quantity and quality)
The site is important for conservation of soil and freshwater resources especially through the protection of unmodified semi-arid steppe vegetation cover.
Factors negatively affecting provision of this benefit
Climate change
Impact level - Low
Pollution
Impact level - Low
Overexploitation
Impact level - Low
Habitat change
Impact level - Low
Outdoor recreation and tourism,
Natural beauty and scenery
The park contributes to recreation and tourism at the local, national and international level.
Factors negatively affecting provision of this benefit
Climate change
Impact level - Low
Pollution
Impact level - Low
Overexploitation
Impact level - Low
Trend - Increasing
Invasive species
Impact level - Low
Habitat change
Impact level - Low
Although park development and management due to recent tourism promotion is currently acceptable, a trend toward increased visitation may be occurring. This trend should be reviewed to ensure that it does lead to park development that would negatively impact the site's values.
Direct employment,
Tourism-related income,
Provision of jobs
The park contributes to the local economy through visitation.
Factors negatively affecting provision of this benefit
Climate change
Impact level - Low
Pollution
Impact level - Low
Overexploitation
Impact level - Low
Invasive species
Impact level - Low
Habitat change
Impact level - Low
The site is internationally important for protection, scientific research and curation of dinosaur fossil material dating from the Cretaceous times and contributes significantly to our understanding of the "Age of the Dinosaurs", ranking among the world’s most important palaeontological sites. It also plays an important role in conservation of soil and water resources and biodiversity as a continental semi-arid steppe biome and provides opportunities for recreation and education.

Visitation contributes to the local economy.
Organization/ individuals Project duration Brief description of Active Projects
1 Royal Tyrell Museum From: 2009
Continuing paleontology research
2 Dinosaur Research Institute From: 2009
Continuing paleontology research
Site need title Brief description of potential site needs Support needed for following years
1 Study of increased visitation of the provincial park component of the World heritage Site The management of tourism and visitation in the park portion of the site is highly effective for the majority of the year. However, recent tourism promotion has resulted in a significant increase in visitation in July and August: at times, beyond the capacity of the site's present infrastructure.This impact needs to be reviewed to consider its consistency and acceptability to ensure the site's values are maintained and the results integrated into the draft management plan. From: 2018
To: 2019

References

References
1 Anon. 2004. Pilot inventory of invasive plant species in Dinosaur Provincial Park. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development Publication.
2 Brinkman, Donald B., Densmore, Michael, Rabi, Marton, Ryan, Michael J. and Evans, David C. (2015) Marine turtles from the Late Cretaceous of Alberta, Canada” Canadian Journal of Earth Science, Volume 52 NRC Research Press. pp.581-589.
3 Brown, Sarah A. E., Collinson, Margaret E. and Scott, Andrew C. (2013) Did fire play a role in formation of dinosaur-rich deposits? An example from the Late Cretaceous of Canada. A Journal of the Senckenberg Research Institute,<http://www.researchgate.net/publication/271951409
4 Confidential consultation (2017)
5 Confidential consultation (2017)
6 Eagles, P. et al. (2004) Best practice study for sustainable tourism at Dinosaur Provincial Park. Miscell. Pub., Ontario, Canada.
7 IBI Group (2010) Dinosaur Provincial Park and area tourism development study. Miscell. Pub., Government of Alberta.
8 IUCN (1979) World Heritage Nomination - IUCN Evaluation, Dinosaur Provincial Park (Canada). <http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/71/documents/&gt;.
9 IUCN (2015) Adoption of Retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value. World Heritage Centre. pp31-32
10 State Party of Canada (1979) Nomination for the World Heritage List of Canadian Natural Site Dinosaur Provincial Park.
11 State Party of Canada (2006) Periodic Report First Cycle: Dinosaur Provincial Park. Paris, France: UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
12 State Party of Canada (2014) Periodic Report Second Cycle Section II: Dinosaur Provincial Park. Paris, France: UNESCO World Heritage Centre. <http://whc.unesco.org/archive/periodicreporting/EUR/cycle02…;.
13 UNEP-WCMC (2012) Dinosaur Provincial Park. UNEP-WCMC World Heritage Information Sheets. Cambridge, UK: UNEP-WCMC.
14 World Heritage Committee (1991) Decision 15 COM VIII. Dinosaur Provincial Park (Canada). <http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/3489&gt;.
15 World Heritage Committee (1992) Decision 16 COM VIII.12. Dinosaur Provincial Park (Canada). <http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/3408&gt;.