Proactive Conservation describes voluntary efforts with the goal of conserving or restoring biodiversity and habitats, focusing on conservation of species before they need to be protected through government regulations. Voluntary conservation actions benefit species that are at risk to become threatened or endangered in the future as well as species already designated.

In North America, we collaborate with strategic partners including government agencies, nonprofit organizations, institutions and conservation groups to advance conservation efforts, practices and build skills essential to slowing and ultimately reversing species decline. In 2020, efforts were focused on:

  • Conserving and restoring grassland and wetland habitats necessary for birds and terrestrial species survival. 
  • Tracking and reducing migratory barriers essential for avian and terrestrial species survival.
We have been collaborating with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, institutions and conservation groups to conserve or restore over 12 million acres and enhance or improve over 800,000 acres.

Grasslands Conservation

Over the past 20 years, ConocoPhillips has taken an increasingly active role in helping to preserve and protect avian species and habitat. With one in four adult grassland birds lost since 1970, we know there is more that must be done quickly before some species are lost forever. We continue to work with our strategic conservation partners to improve data sharing and focus on common goals. In 2020 significant progress was made.

We were a presenting sponsor and keynote speaker at the first Central Grasslands Roadmap Summit attended by 250 participants representing conservation NGOs, indigenous tribes, governmental agencies, policy makers, and corporations from the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Group panels discussed a range of topics including science, indigenous knowledge, cultural perspectives and applicable legislation efforts. Working sessions focused on three key themes: partnerships and engagement, research and evaluation, and policy and funding.

Participants finalized goals and plans to manage and conserve 100 million grassland acres, reduce grassland bird decline, and champion new legislation that will support grassland conservation. Partners are continuing to work on 5-, 10- and 30-year milestones.

As part of this larger conservation effort, eight of the Migratory Bird Joint Ventures1 joined forces to create the JV8 Central Grasslands Initiative. Representing over 63 federal, state, provincial, non-profit, and industry conservation partners, the JV8 is working together to stem grassland losses and negative impacts to migratory birds across the breeding, migration and wintering habitats in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. We are supporting five of the joint venture members of the JV8 with projects near our operations. 

The JV8 is implementing grassland conservation programs with the goal of reversing or stabilizing declining bird populations in the central grasslands of North America. In 2020, the JV8 has:

  • Completed a North American Great Plains Grassland Assessment to understand the extent of undisturbed native grasslands across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. 
  • Released a full-annual cycle conservation plan for Sprague’s Pipit, Chestnut-collared and McCown’s Longspur and Baird’s Sparrow.
  • Hired a full-time coordinator to fill the science data gaps and implement grassland conservation programs.

To date, our support has helped to conserve, restore or enhance over 900,000 acres.

Through our longstanding partnership with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, the ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation program selected nine proposals totaling $1.3 million in 2020. With matching funds of $3.0 million, and a total conservation investment of $4.3 million, these efforts will conserve or restore more than 58,000 acres of breeding, stopover and wintering bird habitat. Funded projects ranged from supporting the Borderlands Research Institute of Sul Ross State University’s efforts to enhance 3,500 acres of wintering habitat in the Marfa and Marathon grasslands of Texas, to the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust’s efforts to obtain a 1,432-acre conservation easement in Carbon County, Wyoming which secures habitat for more than 160 bird species. Current funding priorities for the program include:

  • Restoring or improving grassland, sagebrush and wetland and coastal habitats for birds.
  • Protecting key habitats for birds.
  • Providing technical assistance on working lands.
  • Implementing innovative bird data gathering techniques or technologies.

Since 2005, this initiative helped to conserve, restore or enhance more than 503,000 acres.  

In addition, we support grassland conservation initiatives to minimize biodiversity impacts in areas at or near our operations. We are contributing to the conservation of sage grouse habitat on over 1,800 participating ranches in 11 western states by providing $1 million to the Intermountain West Joint Venture over a five-year period. Funds support the Sage Grouse Initiative, an effort by regulators, nongovernmental organizations, universities and industry to conserve native rangelands for the species. We are also co-funding a three-year, landscape-scale assessment project to develop a grassland birds conservation plan. Modeled after the successful Sage Grouse Initiative, the goal of the project administered by the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture is to develop a set of recommendations for a grasslands conservation framework to stabilize grassland bird populations and minimize impacts across the Great Plains. To date, our support for these initiatives has helped to conserve or restore over 10,800,000 acres.

Wetlands Conservation

As the largest private owner of wetlands in Louisiana, we collaborate with Ducks Unlimited to conserve and restore wetlands habitats that threatened and endangered species depend on to live and thrive. Through these efforts, more than 500 wetland acres were restored and 4,150 acres benefitted in 2020.

Additional marsh terracing was completed in the Terrebonne Basin, and “bird islands” were incorporated to reduce predation. These projects increased emergent marsh and restored habitats vital to migratory waterfowl, fish and other water dependent species. Freshwater enhancement efforts were also expanded in this region to increase water flow which improves habitat efficiencies and combats saltwater intrusion. One hundred acres of new marsh habitat was created at Golden Meadow by filling shallow open water with dredged and pumped sediment at precise elevations in order to restore the area to its historic habitat condition. The result of this project has also benefited an additional 150 acres of wetlands habitat in the surrounding area. Read more about the Golden Meadow Marsh project.

These efforts also provided greater societal benefits by:

  • Preserving the land’s ability to protect and nourish the habitats of many wildlife species.
  • Protecting the nation’s seafood, maritime trade and natural gas and oil industries.
  • Protecting local homes and businesses.
  • Increasing the quality of commercial and recreational fishing.

Since 2012, these efforts have helped to restore, conserve or enhance over 23,600 acres.

Read more about ConocoPhillips’ conservation activities in Louisiana.

Migration

Understanding and tracking bird migration is crucial for conserving habitats essential to species survival. Without understanding migratory connectivity, conservation investments can often be ineffective because they are implemented at the wrong place or time, or for the wrong purpose. Further, regulatory or policy decisions based on missing or inconclusive scientific data have the potential to negatively impact our industry.

We support the world-renowned Smithsonian Institution to collect migratory connectivity information for several bird species of concern that follow a migratory flyway aligned with our areas of operation. While field work in 2020 was limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Smithsonian team focused their efforts on updating species migratory maps and publishing six scientific papers. Collaborating with several partners, they also developed the first-ever Atlas of Migratory Connectivity expected to be complete in 2021 with publication in 2022. The atlas will synthesize migratory connectivity information for more than 500 species, including data from tracking, band recoveries, stable isotopes and genetics.  Since project inception in 2014, we have supported their efforts to track over 670 birds from 23 species. View the Common Nighthawk migratory map.

Our focus on species migration is not limited to birds, we also support the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big Game and Migration Corridors Program which focuses on conserving habitat and migration corridors needed to maintain healthy populations of pronghorn, elk and mule deer. In 2020, the program provided $3.1 million in grant funding for 15 projects in 11 states, supporting the restoration and conservation of 55,800 acres. With matching contributions and a total conservation impact of $23.4 million, these projects will enhance and improve habitats on winter ranges, stopover areas and migration corridors used by big game species on federal lands and private lands. Private landowners also volunteer to participate in these conservation efforts. These projects focus on state-identified migratory bottlenecks and places that must be secured and improved to ensure healthy populations of these iconic animals. Since 2019, our support has helped to restore, improve or protect more than 629,000 acres and remove 190 miles of fencing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1Northern Great Plains*, Oaks and Prairies*, Prairie Habitat, Prairie Pothole*, Playa Lakes*, Rainwater Basin, Rio Grande*, Sonoran (* JVs we are supporting).