By June 16, 2016 Read More →

Cenovus Energy: $32 million caribou habitat initiative; largest project of its kind

Largest single restoration project of its kind ever undertaken


Caribou running from truck hauling heavy machinery in northern Alberta. Source:

Cenovus Energy Inc. announced a $32 million, 10-year Caribou Habitat Restoration Project, to help protect threatened woodland caribou near the company’s operations in northeastern Alberta.

This is step forward for the industry’s environmental image, a few days after this announcement, a pipeline leak of 380,000 liters of light oil fouled a creek in Little Smoky Caribou range area in NW Alberta.

That leak is currently being contained by 150 responders, and initial tests on the creek indicate slightly above minimal detection limits.

Woodland caribou are listed as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Under SARA, the federal government requires provinces with caribou populations to put in place action and range plans for caribou recovery by Oct., 2017.

On June 8, the Government of Alberta announced details of its range plan for herds in northwestern Alberta.

“At Cenovus, we’ve been working on cutting-edge caribou habitat restoration for several years,” said Jon Mitchell, Cenovus Vice-President, Environment & Sustainability.

Over the course of the project, Cenovus expects to achieve a more than tenfold expansion of the caribou habitat restoration work it has already completed in northeastern Alberta, treating forest fragmentation within an area of approximately 3,900 square kilometres.

“Today, we’re taking our voluntary efforts to a whole new level with this ambitious project to restore fragmented boreal forest in an area that is home to the Cold Lake herd. While much needs to be done to support caribou recovery, we believe our project will contribute significantly to the provincial government’s developing action and range plans,” said Mitchell.

This is the largest single area of caribou habitat restoration undertaken by a company anywhere in the world and goes above and beyond current regulatory requirements, the company said.

Using a unique combination of proven forestry techniques tested during a three-year pilot project, Cenovus plans to restore old oil and gas seismic lines, access roads and other types of linear disturbance that have not naturally returned to forest cover over the past 20 to 30 years.

This includes plans to plant approximately four million trees. These measures are expected to reduce forest fragmentation and make it more difficult for predators like wolves to hunt caribou in the open.

“Protection of habitat and landscape scale restoration of linear features are essential to help recover populations in Alberta,” said Simon Dyer, Alberta director, Pembina Institute.

Much of the restoration work completed by Cenovus to date has been done by local First Nations contracting companies, and there will continue to be opportunities for Aboriginal businesses to participate in this new 10-year initiative, the company said.


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