03/06/2015 11:48 EST | Updated 05/06/2015 05:59 EDT

Federal government announces bison returning to Banff National Park

BANFF, Alta. - Bison are returning to Banff National Park.

The federal government says it will spend $6.4 million over five years on the project under the banner of Canada's National Conservation Plan.

The government says in a news release the aim is to "restore ecological integrity and connect Canadians with nature."

The project will reintroduce a small herd of plains bison in Banff National Park.

A keystone species that has been absent from the park since its establishment, plains bison once played a key role in the park's montane ecosystem.

The government says the project will also see Parks Canada invite First Nations to share their knowledge of the animals and participate in stewardship, management and celebrations.

Students and volunteers will also be sought to participate in bison research, monitoring and stewardship activities.