Report on Sustainability 2018

Caribou conservation

Suncor and Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) member companies are initiating and applying leading-edge habitat restoration projects to repair fragmented habitat, and are testing restoration techniques in northeastern Alberta.
Woodland Caribou photographed as part of the monitoring program that collects year-round monitoring data on terrestrial wildlife species at Suncor's Firebag facility
Woodland Caribou (Ranifer tarandus caribou) recorded as part of the photographic monitoring program that collects year-round monitoring data on terrestrial wildlife species at Firebag. Woodland caribou have been recorded during the spring, summer and fall seasons and have been photographed in all buffer zones established based on the distance from existing and proposed Firebag developments.

Woodland caribou are well adapted to life in the boreal forest. They are a non-migratory subspecies that require large expanses of habitat with low densities of predators, like wolves, and they’re usually found in small numbers.

COSIA’s caribou projects

Caribou are also listed as threatened under Canada’s Species at Risk Act, due to declining population, likely caused primarily by increased predation. Natural factors, like forest fires, within the boreal forest have altered and contributed to a fragmented landscape. This often leads to increased populations of deer, moose, elk and their predators. Given the low numbers of woodland caribou in the boreal forest, any increased predation pressure can have devastating effects.

While caribou conservation is a shared government, public and private sector responsibility, it is led by government. As such, the Government of Alberta released its Draft Provincial Woodland Caribou Range Plan in 2017. The plan aims to recover and sustain woodland caribou populations using a broad range of tools.

As an operator in the boreal forest, Suncor has a role to play in contributing towards caribou conservation, and we’ve developed a strategy aimed at mitigating our impact on woodland caribou.

Suncor regularly considers caribou-focused objectives at both the local and landscape levels. For example, Suncor incorporates under-pipe crossings along above-ground pipelines at in situ projects, and reclaims disturbed areas to accelerate recovery of the caribou’s habitat.

In collaboration with COSIA, Suncor also completed a multi-year caribou habitat restoration program to repair fragmented habitat within the Algar region of northeast Alberta.

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