On September 4, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), along with Shell Canada, celebrated the launch of the Shell Buffalo Hills Conservation Ranch, a conservation property located one hour southeast of Calgary.
Shell Buffalo Hills Conservation Ranch includes 4,130 acres of pristine, native grasslands, as well as an additional 1,769 acres of tame hay lands. In total, this area represents nearly 6,000 acres for the breeding, migration or wintering of 159 bird species that use both native prairie and the boreal forest of Alberta.
“We are committed to help mitigate habitat disturbances resulting from our existing mining operations,” says Lorraine Mitchelmore, Shell Canada President and Country Chair. “Shell Canada is proud to have a relationship with Ducks Unlimited which has developed over several decades and has successfully managed to protect land and wildlife throughout North America.”
Shell Canada has a land and reclamation strategy in place to guide environmental performance in its oil sands business. Although reclamation work is constantly underway, full oil sands reclamation takes decades to complete and conserving land like the Shell Buffalo Hills Conservation Ranch allows for action in the short term.
“Only 26% of native grassland remains in Alberta and that remaining portion is in danger of being converted to agriculture crop production,” says Clayton Dubyk, who leads Shell Canada’s Heavy Oil land strategy. “Various waterfowl species use the grasslands as a staging or resting area before continuing their migration north to the Boreal Forest. These factors make the Shell Buffalo Hills Conservation Ranch a very unique and important conservation project for our oil sands business.”
Recognizing the positive impact of this acquisition, Shell Canada contributed $3 million towards the land purchase with the balance coming from DUC and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act partnership. Thanks to the spirit of conservation and collaboration between Shell and DUC, a critical piece of habitat is forever protected.
With the Shell True North Forest, north of Grande Prairie, Alberta, and the addition of the Shell Buffalo Hills Conservation Ranch, Shell Canada has conserved nearly 9,000 acres of habitat in Alberta.