Biodiversity in Action
Managing impacts and making a positive contribution to biodiversity in our operations.
Making a net positive contribution in Australia
In developing the Shell-operated QGC gas project in Queensland, Australia, the team could not avoid clearing some areas of vegetation and habitat. To offset these impacts, the team developed a biodiversity plan, which included acquiring the Valkyrie property. This 10,000-hectare property offers habitat for many threatened species and contains large areas of eucalyptus woodlands, rivers and wetlands, which are now protected and being enhanced through activities such as weed control, fire management and native forest regeneration. 1690 hectares were protected to achieve a net positive gain in biodiversity for the original impact of the project. In 2021, an additional 280 hectares of land was secured on the property as an offset for impacts caused by expansion of the project, providing a protected habitat for three threatened species including the Koala, South-Eastern Long Eared Bat and Greater Glider. The property is also the location of Shell Australia’s first nature-based solutions project, named Freyja. The carbon offset comprises of the protection of an additional 800 hectares of endangered native forest regeneration.
Another QGC project also provided a net positive conservation gain for the endangered cycad plant ‘Cycas megacarpa’, which were impacted because of construction of the gas export pipeline near Gladstone, Queensland. 290 cycads plants were initially salvaged from the area of impact and cared for in a nursery until they were translocated to their new home on an offset property in 2016. QGC’s offset consultant, Ausecology, then collected seeds from the wild cycad population, propagating them and raising the cycad seedlings in a purpose-built nursery. During 2020 work was completed to plant over 2,000 propagated seedlings into the offset area, resulting in an increase in the overall number of cycads as a result of the project (an offset ratio of at least 6 plants replanted for every single plant disturbed).
Protected otter population thrives in Norway
Protected Eurasian otters were found living around the Nyhamna gas plant on the island of Gossen, Norway. Since 2008, the Norwegian Institute for Nature research (NINA) has conducted monitoring, commissioned by AS Norske Shell, to understand how industrial complexes such as Nyhamna affect otter populations in the surrounding area. The monitoring assessed impacts from our operations and the plant expansion. Otter research can be extremely challenging due to their elusive character. NINA applied non-invasive monitoring methods through scat collection followed by DNA-analyses to assess individual distribution and seasonal fluctuations. NINA reported no negative impact to the otter population whose numbers increased by 7.5 % between 2008-2018. Due to an overall increase in the otter population across Norway, their status has now been moved from Vulnerable to LC (least concern). The long-term genetic monitoring project at Nyhamna gave deep insights into local population densities and demographic changes over time and proved to be critically important to European otter research.
From rig to reef
After safely producing more than 31 million barrels of oil equivalent over a span of nearly two decades, Shell’s Cougar platform will now help to sustain a healthy, vibrant Gulf of Mexico ecosystem as an artificial reef. Shell donated the steel frame supporting Cougar’s deck and topside (called the jacket) to Louisiana Artificial Reef program and contributed to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department to help maintain and monitor the reef. The jacket is now providing habitat for a variety of marine life, including red snapper, amberjack, and many reef-dependent fish.
Enhancing marine life around our Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Singapore
Our Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Singapore (Bukom), located on an island off the coast of mainland Singapore, is planning to make a positive impact on biodiversity around Bukom. This will include but is not limited to planting mangroves and seagrass to create natural habitats for marine life and enhance reefs and local marine ecosystems. The team has completed a baseline health survey and categorisation of mangroves, and will continue to survey the marine habitats such as coral reefs and seagrass around Bukom. The baseline health data will be used to develop a Biodiversity Action Plan which will be developed in consultation with local marine research institutes to enhance the marine habitats over the next few years.
Solar Parks become habitats for pollinators
Solar parks are making successful habitats for pollinators, whose numbers have been decreasing in recent years. At Shell Moerdijk’s 39 hectare Solar Park, in The Netherlands, a study was carried out by a biodiversity research centre who found more species of bees than in general agricultural or industrial areas and a number of hoverfly species. The Solar Park is designed with optimal conditions for pollinators. This is due to the space in between the solar panels providing sufficient solar radiation on the ground throughout the day. A diverse range of flowering plants (inclusive of those grown from a variety of seed mixtures) have supported foraging throughout the pollinator’s flying season from March – September. The solar park also provides nesting opportunities with artificial structures, such as logs. Due to the success at Moerdijk future solar parks in the Netherlands such as Heerenveen will follow the same design to provide suitable habitats for pollinators.
Biodiversity in our Nature Based Solutions (NBS) Projects
NBS project regenerates mangroves in Senegal
One NBS project where we are already working to help make a positive contribution to biodiversity is in Senegal, where we are funding the regeneration of 4,775 hectares of mangroves, in collaboration with WeForest. In 2021, we worked with WeForest to undertake an environmental-DNA study of the ecosystem to help establish a biodiversity baseline, which will help us understand the current state of biodiversity, and monitor improvements in the future.
Regenerating Scottish woodlands
We are taking steps to improve biodiversity in our work with Forestry and Land Scotland to extend and restore ancient native woodlands in the Scottish Highlands. By planting around 200,000 trees of many varieties, including Caledonian pine, we can help the forest to regenerate and enhance habitats that will benefit animals such as pine martens, ospreys, black grouse and red squirrel.
Working with others
Restoring biodiversity in the Niger Delta
The IUCN-Niger Delta Panel was established in 2012 by The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC). The panel is led by IUCN and comprises experts from around the world. Its mandate is to provide science-based recommendations to help restore biodiversity at sites affected by oil spills within SPDC’ JV’s areas of operation in the Niger Delta. A key outcome of the process was a revised SPDC remediation standard based on the panel’s recommendation that the different ecozones in the Niger Delta require differentiated evaluation of risks if a spill occurs.
The second phase of the IUCN-Shell collaboration started in 2018. Assessments are under way on the level of biodiversity recovery of specific areas impacted by SPDC JV’s operations. In 2021 biodiversity assessments were disrupted by the of the outbreak COVID-19 pandemic, but a Field Assessment Manual has now been put in place to standardise these assessments. Environmental DNA (eDNA) technology is being trialed as an approach to obtaining baseline biodiversity data that will be used to scope future work.
Restoring green canopy in urban environments
When the Houston Ship Channel celebrated its 100 year of operations over 60 employees from the Shell Shipping Maritime Americas and Shell Trading and Supply (US) organizations rolled up their sleeves and planted 250 trees along the Houston Ship Channel.
This volunteer activity was the first step in the Port of Houston TREES (Tree & Riparian Enhancement of Ecological Services) program, a multi-year collaborative project by Houston Wilderness, the Port Houston and others, focused on targeted large-scale tree planting of up to one million new trees.
Shining new light on life in deep water
Shell collaborates with universities and government scientists through an oceanographic station on our Stones oil and gas field, situated in the Gulf of Mexico, anchored by a three-kilometre line with instruments that collect marine data. Shell uses only a small part of the line to monitor ocean conditions where it extracts oil. But making extra space available allows scientists to gain deeper insight into the ocean's various zones, each of which are home to numerous organisms adapted to their own unique ecosystem.