We're significantly expanding our Caribou Habitat Restoration Project
January 2020 – As part of our recently announced environmental, social & governance (ESG) targets, we’re significantly expanding the scope of our Caribou Habitat Restoration Project in northern Alberta, the largest project of its kind in the world.
Announced in 2016 as a voluntary environmental initiative, this program uses proven reforestation techniques to restore old seismic lines, access roads and other linear disturbances. The initiative is helping to reduce fragmentation in the Cold Lake caribou herd’s habitat, where our Foster Creek and Christina Lake oil sands projects are located.
As part of the project expansion, we are planning to apply restoration techniques to up to 4,000 kilometres of linear disturbances by 2030, including planting up to 5 million trees. That’s a significant increase from our original target of treating up to 3,500 kilometres and planting up to 4 million trees by 2026. Planned project spending is expected to be $40 million. Since 2013, we’ve cumulatively treated more than 800 kilometres and planted about 1 million trees as part of the Caribou Habitat Restoration Project.
Our project uses techniques such as mounding the ground, planting trees on these mounds, adding woody debris and leaning tree stems into the pathways to help cover historical corridors cut into the forest for seismic work, access roads and other activities. By closing and reforesting these long open stretches, our work aims to reduce wolf predation on caribou. Woodland caribou are listed as threatened under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.
We continue to measure and monitor the results of our restoration work and share what we learn with others through Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance. For example, we’re a member of the Regional Industry Caribou Collaboration, where producers work collaboratively across individual company tenures and lease boundaries to coordinate habitat restoration in the Cold Lake and East Side Athabasca River caribou herds and conduct research on caribou ecology and how wildlife respond to habitat treatments. We also work on a coordinated caribou approach with our peers at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.