West Coast Offshore
On September 13, 2018 Shell announced its intent to voluntarily release about 50,000 km2 of exploratory permits off coastal British Columbia. More than one and a half times the size of Vancouver Island, the acreage is located in the Queen Charlotte and Tofino basins covering vast and environmentally rich areas. Shell’s permit area, which has been under Federal moratorium since 1972, overlaps with about one-third of the newly designated Scott Islands National Wildlife Area.
“Releasing these exploration permits can help protect spectacular and environmentally rich areas off Canada’s West Coast where we have no plans to explore for oil and gas,” said Michael Crothers, Shell Canada President and Country Chair. “We saw an opportunity to support marine protection as part of our ongoing efforts to find pragmatic ways to contribute to conservation in Canada while maintaining our robust global exploration portfolio.”
Drilling activities completed in the Queen Charlotte and Tofino basins by Shell prior to the 1972 Federal moratorium had resulted in many oil and gas shows, indicating the potential for hydrocarbon resources in both basins. Given the ongoing moratorium, Shell plans to formally release the permits and work with the Government of Canada on potential investments to support marine conservation efforts in consultation with Indigenous Peoples and environmental groups. Shell will also seek advice from the Nature Conservancy of Canada to determine how releasing these permits might achieve the most effective conservation outcomes.
Shell’s contribution is in line with the Government of Canada’s commitment to conserve 10 percent of Canada’s coastal and marine areas by 2020, and the aim of government, Indigenous communities and environmental organizations to advance marine conservation.
On June 8, 2016 Shell announced it had voluntarily contributed offshore rights to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to support government and Inuit aspirations to expand a proposed conservation area off the coast of Nunavut.
Shell presented the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) with more than 860,000 hectares (8,625 km2) of offshore exploratory permits in the waters of Baffin Bay, near Lancaster Sound, Nunavut. This represents an area larger than Banff National Park.
The NCC then released the permits to the Government of Canada, which facilitated a major conservation project. The original proposed boundaries for a National Marine Conservation Area included 44,500 km2 of marine territory that encompassed most of Lancaster Sound. It was hoped the contribution of Shell’s permits, located outside of those boundaries, could clear the way for a larger National Marine Conservation Area. Expanding the proposed conservation area would support the federal government’s target of protecting at least 10 per cent of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2020 – an international commitment made through the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
Lancaster Sound is the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage, the legendary corridor through Canada’s Arctic Archipelago. It’s an area of critical ecological importance to marine mammals, including seals, narwhal, beluga and bowhead whales, as well as walrus and polar bears. It is bordered by some of the most important seabird breeding colonies in the Arctic, with populations totaling in the hundreds of thousands.
In 2017, the Governments of Canada and Nunavut together with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, agreed on a final boundary for Canada’s largest national marine conservation area. The area will be known as Tallarutiup Imanga.
The area will protect a representative portion of Lancaster Sound’s vital marine ecosystem while also allowing members of the community to continue to use it in a sustainable way. It will also support the sustainability of coastal Inuit communities and protect this marine heritage for present and future generations of Canadians.
In 1992 to celebrate Canada's 125th birthday, Shell donated over 22,000 acres of land near Fernie, British Columbia to establish the Mount Broadwood Heritage Conservation Area.
This land donation, valued at over $1.8 million at the time, remains the largest donation of conservation property in Canadian history.
Shell's continued investment in Mount Broadwood will support future environmental protection of the land and enhance visitors' experience on the conservation area. Nature Conservancy Canada, with Shell’s support, is undertaking an ecological baseline which will provide a better understanding of the environmental and cultural features of the property and identify and rank biological targets and threats. New interpretive signage was also installed on the property in 2014 which will help guide and educate visitors about the area and its features.
Mount Broadwood is a spectacular area used by outdoor enthusiasts including bikers, hikers and fishermen. The property has resident populations of wildlife such as bighorn sheep, moose, elk, grizzly and black bears, wolverines and badgers. The Wigwam River that flows through the property is home to some of the largest cutthroat trout in southeastern British Columbia and is the single most important bull trout spawning system in the Kootenay Region. Sockeye (kokanee) salmon are also present after being introduced in the early 1970s.
Mount Broadwood sits in the Elk Valley, a critically important wildlife corridor that accommodates the north-south movement of wide-ranging carnivores such as grizzly bears, wolves and lynx. Shell's donation of Mount Broadwood has anchored NCC's conservation work in the Elk and Flathead Valleys.
The Shell True North Forest
The Shell True North Forest is a 1,820 acre (740 ha) tract of land in northern Alberta’s boreal zone. The privately owned land was previously used for cattle grazing and hay production. Its purchase on behalf of Shell’s oil sands business will conserve area more than twice the size of Vancouver, BC’s Stanley Park.
Shell has a land and reclamation strategy in place to guide environmental performance in our oil sands business. As oil sands reclamation takes decades to complete, conserving land allows us to take action in the short term. Over the next decade Shell plans to accelerate the pace of land reclamation and develop technologies to reduce future land disturbance.
The Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP) has been conserving habitat in the boreal wilderness since 2007 as part of a commitment with the Oil Sands Environment Coalition (OSEC). The AOSP committed to spend $2 million over ten years to help mitigate, and partially offset, land and habitat disturbances resulting from existing mining operations. With the addition of the True North Forest, we have now conserved over 3000 acres of habitat offset land.
The Shell True North Forest is located 70 km north of Grand Prairie, Alberta and lies less than one km south of Moonshine Provincial Park. The park offers a range of recreational activities like camping, fishing and hiking. Nearby Jack Bird Pond provides outstanding nature walking and birdwatching opportunities.The Blueberry Mountain Conservation Site is less than nine kilometres northwest of the property.
Land conservation plays a key role in managing biodiversity. The Shell True North Forest contains mixed woodlands, grasslands, wetlands and habitat along the Ksituan River which runs through the property.
The mixed habitat of established forest and new re-growth creates an ideal environment for high densities of elk, deer and moose, which in turn support cougars and other predators known to inhabit the area. Among the abundance of birds present in the area, is the barred owl, a Species of Special Concern in Alberta.
Future Land Use
The land was secured through an arrangement with the Alberta Conservation Association. Together both parties will develop a conservation management plan to guide future activity on the property. The plan will identify potential opportunities to enhance wetlands or plant additional trees. As portions of the land were previously used for cattle grazing and hay production, these areas will be allowed to reforest over time, naturally returning to their original boreal forest state.
Low impact recreational activities will also be considered as part of the planning process. With excellent road access, the property offers potential for a diverse selection of activities such as hiking and bird watching.
Responsible management will ensure the Shell True North Forest remains a protected natural haven well into the future.
Shell Buffalo Hills
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 and 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.
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.