Caring for land and biodiversity

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Caring for land and biodiversity
Image United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to this content.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to this content.

At ExxonMobil, Care is a core value. We aim to contribute to the well-being of the communities and environment where we operate, and the way we manage land and habitats, and the biodiversity within them, is critically important to this objective. We work hard to reduce potential impacts to ecosystems and to the value they provide. Our land and habitat management plans are designed to eliminate, reduce, or mitigate risks to biodiversity, with protective measures specific to the location and scale of our operations.


We operate in locations with a broad range of environmental and socioeconomic conditions, and we employ a comprehensive process to understand the connection between our activities and the environments and communities in which we operate. Our environmental management system helps us to identify, assess, mitigate, and monitor potential impacts, including any effects on biodiversity and the function of ecosystems in the broader environment. Protect Tomorrow. Today. is our guiding principle in this area and our work is also informed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Using our Operational Integrity Management System and Environmental Aspects Guide, we work to understand and measure the benefits gained from the biodiversity of an environment. We operate in areas that include forest, grassland, aquatic, and marine ecosystems, and these ecosystems, functioning in a healthy relationship, provide benefits (i.e., natural services) like pollination of crops, food, clean air, and physical and spiritual well-being to humans and animals.

Ongoing formal and informal stakeholder engagement with academia, industry, community leaders, and others further helps us identify relevant biodiversity and ecosystem services for consideration in our project design and operational practices. Using the results of these engagements and assessments, we apply an approach based on the value of ecosystems as assessed by socioeconomic and environmental factors.

In Papua New Guinea, for example, ExxonMobil PNG Limited’s (EMPNG) Biodiversity Strategy supports the country’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and the Policy on Protected Areas. Following extensive consultation with stakeholders, including the local government, EMPNG developed a Biodiversity Strategy and implementation plan (the Biodiversity Implementation and Monitoring Program) with the objective of safeguarding the country’s rich environment within the PNG LNG project Upstream area.1 This process has contributed to a deeper understanding of the region’s unique biodiversity, including the discovery of previously unknown species of insects and plants, one of which is a plant species that has been named Distrianthes exxonmobilensis in recognition of EMPNG’s efforts.2, 3

We have also joined with others in our industry in supporting the aims of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, as Ipieca communicated at the United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity COP15 event and in a statement in late 2022.

Management and application

For major projects, we use our Environmental, Social, and Health Impact Assessment process to identify and evaluate environmental, social, and health risks. We also use an environmental business planning process to identify, assess, and establish solutions to environmental issues (e.g., potential mitigation measures) throughout the life of the asset.

In areas of high biodiversity like critical habitats,4 we follow the Cross Sector Biodiversity Initiative’s mitigation hierarchy, a best-practice decision-making process to help avoid, reduce, restore, and offset impacts to biodiversity. As part of this mitigation process, our engineering teams consider integrating nature-based solutions, including remediation and restoration, into design decisions throughout the asset life cycle.

Land and habitat management is emphasized in training. For example, in 2022, we launched new sustainability online training courses available to all employees, including a module to reinforce the importance of ExxonMobil's sustainability focus areas, such as land and habitat management and other topics. The training included our approach, available tools, and active programs. Through August 2023, more than 7,000 employees have completed this module. As another example, land and habitat management is included in environmental management training for selected professional employees.

Project Environmental Standards

We have Project Environmental Standards for Land Use and Marine Sound, a system of standards that inform project concept selection and facility design. These standards enable us to:

  • Avoid or reduce adverse environmental and socioeconomic impacts related to the permanent or temporary use of land, including land within critical habitat or with high ecosystem value.
  • Identify, assess, and manage risks associated with marine sound-producing activities and to consistently implement mitigation in a structured, effective manner.

Operations near protected areas

We routinely screen the locations of our major operating facilities using the World Database of Protected Areas.5 We estimate that in early 2022, nearly 34% of major operating sites6 were within 5 kilometers of designated terrestrial environmentally protected areas and 10 kilometers of designated marine protected areas. We factor this information into our facility environmental business plans as we continuously work to enhance protective measures and emergency response plans.

The table below provides details of the major operating sites within 5 kilometers of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Category I and II protected areas (strict nature reserves, wilderness areas, and national parks), Ramsar sites (wetlands of international importance), and UNESCO World Heritage Sites (natural and cultural).

Major operating site
Protected area name
Designation / type
Facility type

Long Island Point

Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Reserve

UNESCO – Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), Ramsar Site

Within 1 km

Fractionation plant and storage



Solent and Southampton Water

Ramsar Site

Within 1 km

Petroleum refinery and chemical plant

United Kingdom

Point Jerome Gravenchon

Marais Vernier et Vallée de la Risle maritime

Ramsar Site

Within 1 km

Petroleum refinery and lube oil blending plant


Notre Dame Gravenchon

Marais Vernier et Vallée de la Risle maritime

Ramsar Site

Within 5 km

Chemical plant


Fife Ethylene Plant

Firth of Forth

Ramsar Site

Within 5 km

Chemical plant

United Kingdom

Barenburg Operations

Diepholzer Moorniederung

Ramsar Site

Within 5 km

Oil and gas processing



El Tepeyac


Within 5 km

Lube oil blending plant


ExxonMobil supports land management programs that enhance wildlife habitats and provide environmental education to local communities.

In North America, we are a charter member of the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) and collaborate with the council to certify conservation programs – 14 company sites involving a total of 32 habitat, species, and education projects as of early 2023.

In addition, we work with local education and community programs to promote native species and support biological field data collection. In Papua New Guinea, for example, the New Guinea Binatang Research Centre is working with ExxonMobil to engage local communities and encourage landowner participation in monitoring of vegetation regeneration and biodiversity surveys.

We also contribute to research aimed at improving biodiversity management. For example, our collaboration with NatureServe uses science and data to facilitate biodiversity conservation, helping establish a global data and indicator library that can be used to improve biodiversity assessments and conservation planning. The library tracks progress toward environmental stewardship goals and makes biodiversity data globally accessible.

Image *Includes only WHC qualifying projects. Qualifying projects must: 1) Be locally appropriate, 2) Exceed any relevant regulatory requirements, 3) Have a conservation or conservation education objective, 4) Provide conservation or conservation education value, and 5) Have documented measurable outcomes.
Source: Wildlife Habitat Council on behalf of ExxonMobil

*Includes only WHC qualifying projects. Qualifying projects must: 1) Be locally appropriate, 2) Exceed any relevant regulatory requirements, 3) Have a conservation or conservation education objective, 4) Provide conservation or conservation education value, and 5) Have documented measurable outcomes.

Source: Wildlife Habitat Council on behalf of ExxonMobil


At sites around the world, we collaborate with third parties to share best practices and contribute to a shared understanding of complex ecosystems in support of our remediation efforts.

For example, we are piloting native grassland restoration in the Permian Basin to support local ecosystems and biodiversity in degraded lands. Using non-irrigated and non-fertilized native grass mixes, we are seeking to better understand the impacts of microbial communities in the soil on the resilience of the land and its ability to absorb and hold carbon.

ExxonMobil Research Qatar in Doha is working with QatarEnergy LNG, Qatar University, and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to identify, characterize, and implement nature-based solutions – actions to help protect, manage, and restore ecosystems to support both nature and people. One such project seeks to document the potential of mangrove ecosystems as a nature-based solution to provide co-benefits that include supporting biodiversity, stabilizing shorelines, and sequestering carbon. Another project is assessing the use of a constructed wetland to treat industrial wastewater and facilitate water reuse.

Within our operations, we strive to enhance our conservation efforts through advanced monitoring and mitigation techniques in consultation with local experts. At our refinery in Joliet, Illinois, we monitor and help to control invasive species like phragmites and European milfoil in connected wetlands, informed by the results of a baseline fish population survey.

And our work is being recognized. In 2022, the team at our salt dome facility in Sorrento, Louisiana, earned WHC Certified Silver recognition for biodiversity and conservation efforts that included:

  • Removing invasive trees, in support of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ goal.
  • Surveying the local tree population and recording growth data.
  • Planting native trees beneficial to area wildlife.
  • Monitoring the impact of removing invasive species on wildlife, including birds and reptiles.
  • Working with local Audubon societies and ecologists to improve habitats for wildlife, including installing basking rocks and building bird and bat houses.

We look for opportunities for remediation and conservation to bring new life to an area. For example, at a former waste oil site in New Hampshire, we helped establish a multi-year conservation effort to rehabilitate the habitat in support of a nearby wildlife corridor. We worked with other stakeholders to develop a native wildflower meadow for native pollinators, monarch butterflies, other local fauna. We also restored more than 440 million gallons of groundwater to potable standards since 2013 through our work on aquifer restoration. These efforts were recognized by the Wildlife Habitat Council and the National Groundwater Association, and the work continues to this day.


  1. The Upstream area covers the Hela, Southern Highlands, Western and Gulf provinces of Papua New Guinea.
  2. Takeuchi, Wayne (2015), Distrianthes exxonmobilensis (Loranthaceae), a new species in a formerly monotypic genus from Papua New Guinea, Phytotaxa: Vol. 207 (2015).
  3. ExxonMobil’s Biodiversity Study & Conservation - Energy Factor PNG.
  4. Critical habitats, as described by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard 6 (PS6) on Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources (IFC, 2012a), are areas with high biodiversity value, including (i) habitat of significant importance to Critically Endangered and/or Endangered species; (ii) habitat of significant importance to endemic and/or restricted-range species; (iii) habitat supporting globally significant concentrations of migratory species and/or congregatory species; (iv) highly threatened and/or unique ecosystems; and/or (v) areas associated with key evolutionary processes.
  5. UNEP-WCMC and IUCN (2021), Protected Planet: The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), July 2023, Cambridge, UK: UNEP-WCMC and IUCN. Available at:
  6. Major Operating Sites are defined in Ipieca/API/IOGP SR Guidance as “operated assets in operational or development phase to include onshore and offshore, oil and gas production facilities, refineries and manufacturing sites, upstream central facilities, and gas plants.” (Sustainability Reporting Guidance for the Oil and Gas Industry (4th edition, 2020, revised February 2023) developed by Ipieca, the American Petroleum Institute and the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers).

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