Sustainability at Suncor

Biodiversity

Suncor is committed to preserving and promoting biodiversity in all areas where we work. This includes conserving habitat and reclaiming the landscape we’ve disturbed.

Our operations are located in diverse landscapes that are home to a variety of plants and animals.

Our approach

Guided by a mitigation hierarchy, a tool that helps manage biodiversity risk, we seek to avoid, minimize, restore and/or offset impacts to biodiversity from our operations. We do this by:

  • using land use and management planning processes to identify where disturbances can be avoided throughout our projects
  • minimizing disturbances to the extent possible while considering multiple factors, including safety, operations and the environment
  • working internally, and with industry peers and with multi-stakeholder organizations to conserve, restore and reclaim habitat for birds, mammals, fish and other species, including species at risk such as caribou.

To protect both our people and wildlife that use our sites and nearby associated areas, our internal wildlife standard describes the responsibilities of all employees and contractors working on our sites. We also have an internal wildlife committee where representatives from each of our sites come together to discuss wildlife practices.

We use scientific research and best management practices to reduce the impact of our operations and progress reclamation. In collaboration with our industry peers, stakeholders and regulatory agencies, we work with organizations such as the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI), the Canada-Alberta Oil Sands Monitoring Program and Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) to:

  • mitigate and monitor the impacts of our operations
  • reduce the cumulative effects of industrial development
  • address regional biodiversity risk.
Two caribou spotted on a Suncor site.
Two caribou spotted on a Suncor site through our photographic monitoring program.

Caribou recovery and conservation

It‘s important to partner with organizations that support conservation and biodiversity. In the case of boreal woodland caribou, complex combinations of natural and human-caused factors have created landscape changes and indirectly increased predation, resulting in declining caribou populations. As an operator in the region, we must contribute to caribou recovery and conservation while mitigating our impacts on them.

As a member of COSIA’s Regional Industry Caribou Collaboration joint industry project, we’re working with academia, the Government of Alberta and the ABMI Caribou Monitoring Unit to co-ordinate restoration in priority areas, find new ways to improve our understanding of biodiversity, and restore habitat throughout northeast Alberta. These efforts all play a role in caribou recovery.

In 2020, Suncor team members co-chaired a COSIA workshop to look for solutions to reduce, or eliminate, the footprint associated with seismic testing caused by industry development. This work supports woodland caribou and forest conservation.

4,000

hectares

of ecologically sensitive land secured

55

recorded

species at our northern Alberta sites through remotely triggered cameras

9

million

seedlings planted at Base Plant

Land conservation

For nearly 20 years, we have partnered with the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) through the Boreal Habitat Conservation Initiative to secure areas of intact boreal forest and wetlands that preserve biodiversity by ensuring the components of the larger boreal forest ecosystem remain undisturbed.

Through our work with ACA, we have secured more than 4,000 hectares of ecologically sensitive land across 43 different conservation sites in Alberta as voluntary offsets.

Honouring a colleague through conservation

Family and friends of Peter MacConnachie stand by the MacConnachie Conservation Area sign the day of the dedication.
Family and friends of Peter MacConnachie stand by the MacConnachie Conservation Area sign the day of the dedication.

In May 2019, ACA dedicated a 125 hectare parcel of land in memory of a beloved Suncor colleague, Peter MacConnachie who passed away in 2017. A self-professed boreal forest fan, Peter combined his work in sustainability with a love of the outdoors. Through his participation in the Suncor Boreal Habitat Conservation Initiative, ecologically-sensitive areas of the boreal forest have been conserved in partnership with ACA and the Alberta Fish and Game Association.

The dedication marked an important milestone in the 15-year partnership the Suncor Energy Foundation and Suncor have had with the ACA.

“Dedicated in his memory, may the MacConnachie Conservation Area exist not just as a place on the map but also serve as a destination to enjoy Alberta’s boreal forest that Peter so appreciated and helped to conserve.”

 

Canadian toad spotted at Suncor's Base Plant site
A Canadian toad spotted at Suncor's Base Plant site, heard in the audio recording below.
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