Caribou Habitat Restoration Project
Our 10-year Caribou Habitat Restoration Project, announced in 2016, is a voluntary environmental initiative that represents the largest single area of boreal caribou habitat restoration undertaken by a company anywhere in the world.
We use proven reforestation techniques to restore old seismic lines, access roads and other linear disturbances. During 2017, we treated approximately 270 kilometres of these linear features in an area comprising about 276 square kilometres. Our restoration program 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.
Since 2013, we’ve cumulatively treated more than 700 kilometres of these linear disturbances and planted about 500,000 trees. As part of our 10-year project, we plan to take that total to 3,500 kilometres treated within an area of 3,900 square kilometres - about five times the area of the city of Calgary. We plan to have planted approximately 4 million trees by 2026.
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 these long open stretches, our work aims to make it harder for wolves to hunt 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.