Sandhill Fen research project wins Emerald Award

The Alberta Emerald Foundation named Syncrude’s Sandhill Fen as the winner of the 2015 Emerald Award for Large Businesses on Thursday.

The Emerald Awards recognize outstanding environmental initiatives in Alberta by individuals, not-for-profit associations, community groups, governments, small businesses and large companies every year since 1992.

“This award recognizes the efforts of many Syncrude employees from across the company, who worked together to create a project that will help guide our efforts with wetlands reclamation,” says Glen Rovang, Syncrude’s Research and Development Manager. “The project has already yielded some encouraging results that will prove invaluable in improving wetland reclamation design and practices at Syncrude and the rest of the oil sands industry.”

The 17-hectare project is part of a research watershed that covers 57 hectares of sand-capped composite tailings in its former 60-metre-deep East Mine. Scientists introduced a variety of wetland plants throughout the fen and planted more than 100,000 trees and shrubs on the uplands surrounding the project. Many other species of trees, willows and shrubs are growing in the watershed on their own without being planted, sprouting from the seed bank in the soil that was salvaged and used in the project.

Syncrude began research on creating fens in 2008 with a field program at our Mildred Lake site that contained 28 experimental plots. Syncrude completed construction of the watershed in 2012 and will closely monitor its progress over the next 10 to 20 years. Syncrude is working with seven universities on different research projects in the fen to study water, wetland and upland plants, the weather and the soil.

The Mining Association of Canada named the project as the winner of the inaugural Towards Sustainable Mining Award for Environmental Excellence in 2014.

Syncrude operates the Syncrude Project, a Joint Venture undertaking among Canadian Oil Sands Limited, Imperial Oil Resources, Mocal Energy Limited, Murphy Oil Company Ltd., Nexen Oil Sands Partnership, Sinopec Oil Sands Partnership and Suncor Energy Ventures Partnership.

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