The Wood Buffalo National Park (English Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada, French Parc national du Canada Wood Buffalo ) was founded in 1922 in the border area of the Province of Alberta and the Northwest Territories and covers an area of 44,802 km ², the largest Canadian national park. In 1983 he was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The area was in 2013 in its entirety as Dark Sky Preserve ( Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Reserve ) are reported, thus it is also the world's largest light reserve.
The national park is mainly characterized by the bounding it to the east of the Athabasca River and rivers of the Slave River and by the eastward flowing through it from west Peace River and the southwest tip of the Athabascasees. The river delta of Slave, Peace and Athabasca is a maze of rivers, lakes (including Lake Claire ) and marshes and is one of the largest freshwater deltas in Canada. The oriented 300 km long in east-west direction Athabasca has a high water quality in spite of the burden of residues from uranium mining on the north shore.
The area of the national park is well covered with coniferous and mixed forests. In the southwest of the small town of Fort Smith is the Slave River extends west the most important gypsum karst area of North America. Here there are hundreds of caves, sinkholes and karst springs and an extensive network of underground rivers. Some caves have collapsed, and so characteristic of sinkholes have emerged that make the maze easily recognizable. The most spectacular sinkhole has developed into Pine Lake, which is located 60 kilometers south of Fort Smith directly on the gravel path to Peace Point ( Peace River ). In the northeast part of the national park lie with a salt crust covered plains; they created by the drying of water cascading down with underground salt residues of a prehistoric sea freighted from sources on the surface.
The national park is indeed located on the edge of the permafrost zone; yet the summer months of July and August are hot and dry.
In the area of the National Park, approximately 300 animal species, including 250 species of birds counted. Thousands of migratory birds cross the region on its northern and Südflügen. The world's last remaining nesting sites of whooping cranes (Grus americana) are here, and at the rapids of the Slave River between Fort Smith and Fort Fitzgerald, the northernmost colony of the rhino is pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos, American White Pelican ).
Founded in the park to protect the nesting sites of the endangered whooping crane and the last still living wood bison (Bison bison athabascae ). Today, it is estimated the stock of bison ( forest and additionally exposed from the former Buffalo National Park plains bison, which have often mixed ) to approximately 6,000 animals; now they form the world's largest group of wild bison. In addition, here also black bears, grizzly bears, lynx, moose, arctic foxes, beavers, marmots and many other species are still several packs of wolves, native. Even bald eagles build their nests in tree tops.
In terms of its vegetation, the park is one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in North America. In the coniferous and mixed forests and on the saline levels thrives on a variety of marsh and prairie plant species.
The lowest starting point for visiting the Wood Buffalo National Park is Fort Smith, that can be reached with the vehicle on a branch of the Mackenzie Highway about Hay River or plane, both of Edmonton as of Yellowknife.