Land technology and innovation
Our activities on the land are temporary and we develop restoration plans even before we begin work on a project. Once the entire project is complete and the equipment and infrastructure are removed, all the land we use will be reclaimed, including access roads, well pads and seismic lines. We are always looking for ways to reduce our impact on land and wildlife and build on our leading land restoration and wildlife protection activities. Here are some examples of technology and innovation that we use to reduce the impact of our operations on the surrounding land and wildlife.
Improving the science of forest regeneration
For many years, the common industry practice for forest recovery was a passive approach, leaving the soil as is and letting trees regenerate on their own. Recognizing that this method made for a slow return to forest cover, in 2008, we became the first oil sands company to initiate research in the science of forest regeneration. Since that time, we have tested a range of techniques to facilitate the return of natural forest cover, and results from this research and testing have contributed to widespread change in practices in our sector. Using techniques such as mounding the soil for tree planting in wet areas and adding woody debris has helped accelerate restoration, and in some cases has helped triple the rate of tree growth in areas under reclamation.
In collaboration with COSIA, we released a new video highlighting our work with two amphibious excavation vehicles. These vehicles have modified tracks and an air-filled undercarriage that allow them to safely navigate through unfrozen muskeg to carry out reclamation activities with minimal environmental impact. Originally started as a pilot project with COSIA, these two vehicles have allowed us to extend our reclamation activities year round and are expected to contribute significantly to our restoration goals. The vehicles can work in soft soil and cross a creek without causing damage or stirring up sediment in the water. Learn more about this technology.
Regional Industry Caribou Collaboration
Cenovus is a founding member of the Regional Industry Caribou Collaboration, a group of oil sands and forestry companies that work collaboratively to conduct science-based research and monitoring and implement landscape-level habitat restoration projects in five oil sands caribou ranges. Learn more about this project.
When we work with other companies to voluntarily restore caribou habitat in northeastern Alberta, we want to share what we learn with our peers to maximize our effectiveness. A recent study we led through Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) did exactly that. The study, informally called Restoration 3.0, builds on previous, similar research and examined disturbed habitat in five caribou ranges near COSIA members’ oil sands operations. Learn more about this project.
Boreal Ecological Recovery and Assessment project
An important part of reclamation is our ability to monitor and predict vegetation recovery. To help mitigate our impacts, we’ve begun using remote monitoring technologies to track growth and measure forest recovery sites without creating further human disturbance. As an industry partner in this project, we’re actively involved in testing these new monitoring initiatives.
Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland
In March 2019, Imperial Oil, Teck Resources and Cenovus helped create a new provincial park in Alberta. The Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park will protect bison and caribou ranges with over 160,000 hectares of allocated land south of Wood Buffalo National Park.