Michael Cody: Leading change in forest management
The “Us” in Cenovus
October 2021 - Michael Cody, Environmental Specialist at Cenovus Energy, has always been passionate about sustainability and maintaining healthy ecosystems for the well-being of future generations.
With a master’s degree in forest and soil science, Michael leads a Calgary-based team that provides regulatory and environmental expertise on topics like soil remediation and land ecosystems. He also provides guidance in his area of specialization — forest disturbance and restoration, biodiversity and our Caribou Habitat Restoration Project.
“As a company, we approach every project with the confidence that the land we use will one day be restored,” says Michael. “These plans are in place before the work on a project even begins and my team focuses on assessing environmental risks and providing expertise on priority restoration areas.”
At Cenovus, Michael has always been encouraged to use innovation and technology to reduce environmental risk and believes this is the reason Cenovus has been able to lead progressive change in the area of biodiversity.
One project that stands out is Cenovus’s Caribou Habitat Restoration Project, the largest project of its kind in the world, which is helping to reduce fragmentation in the Cold Lake caribou herd’s habitat. This program, announced in 2016 as a voluntary environmental initiative, uses proven reforestation techniques to restore old seismic lines, access roads and other linear disturbances. These include techniques such as mounding the ground, planting trees on the mounds, adding woody debris and leaning tree stems into the pathways to help cover the disturbed land.
“As the old adage goes, necessity is the mother of invention and we’re at the beginning of a new era of change and even more technology and innovation,” says Michael. “In my field, this will include new approaches to forest management that support and enhance a forest’s ability to store more carbon, playing a critical role in mitigating climate change. Given some of the problems we face — changing climate, worsening fire seasons and forest pests and diseases — it’s more important than ever to challenge the status quo. It’s an exciting time!”
Outside of work, Michael stays committed to biodiversity conservation. He has a reforestation project in the Peruvian Amazon which he has developed over the past 20 years.
“I enjoy working with the local people and restoring degraded forest land,” explains Michael. “And at work, it’s the same thing. Having incredible co-workers across the company and knowing that my team will be encouraged to challenge the status quo and try these new approaches is incredibly motivating. It’s really satisfying to know that I’m helping to build sustainable forests for future generations.”