Land use and biodiversity
Imperial operates in a variety of ecosystems, some with sensitive characteristics. We strive to mitigate potential impacts to ecosystems and the value those ecosystems provide, working to conserve and
restore land and biodiversity through progressive reclamation and habitat restoration.
We carefully consider land use and biodiversity in all aspects of our operations, from new development planning to ongoing operations and reclamation. At the board level, the Safety and Sustainability Committee oversees the policies and practices that manage environmental risks, including land use and biodiversity.
We regularly conduct comprehensive environmental risk assessments that consider all aspects of the environment in which we operate, including biodiversity. These risk assessments are a central component of our environmental business planning process.
Through these processes, we consider factors such as avoiding and minimizing our footprint in sensitive environments, the rarity of individual species — their vulnerabilities and cultural significance, and areas of importance to Indigenous communities. We also work with Indigenous communities in the areas in which we operate to incorporate Indigenous knowledge into our project plans.
In areas of high biodiversity, we follow a mitigation hierarchy,10 a best-practice decision-making process that helps us avoid, minimize, restore and, in cases of disturbance to fisheries habitat, offset impacts. Currently, none of Imperial’s operating sites are located near protected areas.
In 2022, Imperial’s Land Use and Biodiversity Lead, Lori Neufeld, participated in multiple collaborative biodiversity efforts including the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity(COP 15), as part of Canada’s delegation.
At COP 15, alongside other members of the National Boreal Caribou Knowledge Consortium, Lori showcased the collaborative work Imperial has done to support the recovery of boreal caribou populations, including our role in the formation of the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park, an initiative led by Mikisew Cree First Nations.
Imperial contributed an oil sands lease to support the creation of the park, which supports the ecological integrity of Wood Buffalo National Park and promotes the long‑term stewardship of areas and resources.
Lori was also appointed to Canada’s Nature AdvisoryCommittee (NAC), a group that provides strategic advice and innovative solutions to Environment and Climate Change Canada as the department develops Canada’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for 2030.
The NAC is comprised of experts with scientific, technical or traditional knowledge in wildlife management, area-based conservation, ecosystem services, Indigenous conservation, sustainable natural resource industry practices, and nature-based climate solutions.
Wildlife monitoring partnerships
Imperial supports land management programs that enhance wildlife habitats and provide community outreach and education programs. Cold Lake and Kearl have wildlife habitat management programs, certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council in recognition of our efforts that go above and beyond regulatory requirements.
We are also a member of the Regional Industry Caribou Collaborative (RICC) where members are focused collectively on conserving caribou and restoring habitat and we work closely with the Pathways Alliance to share restoration and reclamation best practices and reduce impacts to wildlife.
Imperial is a member of the Boreal Ecosystem Recovery and Assessment (BERA) 11 project, a multi-sectoral research partnership of academic institutions and private-sector companies. BERA’s central goal is to understand the effects of industrial disturbance on natural ecosystem dynamics and to develop strategies for restoring disturbed landscapes.
Imperial also participates in the Early Successional Wildlife Dynamics Program, a joint industry program in the Athabasca region that assesses wildlife recovery in reclaimed areas to help determine the effectiveness of reclamation efforts in supporting biodiversity.
Through the program we collect wildlife monitoring data at our Kearl site related to the return and reestablishment of wildlife in reclaimed areas, including terrestrial and water body vegetation productivity ofwetlands and compensation lakes. Data is gatheredusing wildlife cameras, automatic recording units,nest surveys and small-mammal trapping.
1Mitigation Hierarchy Guide – CSBI.