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Annual Tree Planting Day shines

More than 150 participants spent the morning planting 1,300 trees and shrubs in the industry's largest constructed fen research area.

Syncrude’s reclamation area was bustling with energy as employees, their families and Fort McKay community members dug in at the annual Tree Planting Day on September 13.

More than 150 participants spent the morning planting 1,300 trees and shrubs in the industry’s largest constructed fen research area. Fens are an important type of wetland found in the boreal forest. Participants helped to plant species that naturally grow in the boreal forest, such as jack pine, willow, birch and blueberry.

For 10 year old Sultan Lawal, it was a memorable first tree planting experience. “Planting trees is my favourite part of the day. It’s fun to go around and dig the holes," says Sultan, whose father Waris works with Base Plant Projects.

The yearly event provides a first-hand opportunity to see how land is reclaimed at Syncrude and the progress being made. The area used at Tree Planting Day is part of a 54-hectare fen wetland research project located in a portion of Syncrude’s former East Mine. The fen was built on a foundation of Composite Tails, a mixture of fluid fine tails, gypsum and sand, and is the first constructed fen watershed in the world.

After tree planting, the group finished the day with a barbecue at the Beaver Creek Wood Bison Ranch.

Reclamation Progression

We will ensure the land disturbed by our operation is returned to a stable, safe condition that is capable of supporting biologically self-sustaining communities of plants and animals.

Our long-term vision is to create a landscape that sustains an integrated mosaic of land uses that meet regulator and stakeholder expectations. Our policy adheres to the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act which requires Syncrude to return the land we use to a productive capability equivalent to that of the pre-disturbance landscape.

We are required by Alberta legislation to submit a reclamation and closure plan every 10 years, with a mid-term update provided five years after the submission. We provided our update to regulators in 2011. This plan is separate from, but consistent with, our ERCB Directive 074 submission which outlines our tailings management plan.

In 2011, the Alberta government introduced a new Mine Financial Security Program for oil sands and coal mines. It requires ongoing reclamation as soon as practical and ensures adequate security in the rare event of premature mine closure or abandonment.