Reducing impacts to land and habitats

The way we manage land and habitats, and their effect on biodiversity, is critical to the communities in which we operate. ExxonMobil works to mitigate potential impacts to ecosystems and the value those ecosystems provide. In new projects and ongoing operations, we build land and habitat management plans featuring protective measures specific to the location and scale of operations.

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Reducing impacts to land and habitats
Image United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to this content.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to this content.

Approach

ExxonMobil employs a comprehensive process to understand how our activities interact with the environmental settings. We operate in locations with a broad range of environmental and socioeconomic conditions and use a robust environmental management system to identify, assess, mitigate and monitor impacts on the environment, including potential effects on biodiversity and the value particular ecosystems provide.

As part of that assessment, we measure the benefits gained from the biodiversity of a environment. For example, forest ecosystems, grassland ecosystems and aquatic ecosystems each consist of all the organisms in their area. These ecosystems, functioning in a healthy relationship, provide benefits like natural pollination of crops, clean air, and physical well-being to humans and animals.

Using the results of the assessments, we apply an approach based on the value ecosystems provide. This approach is ideal for identifying and measuring the potential impacts to the ecosystem, using economic, social structure, and environmental measurements. This work is guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Objectives

Protect Tomorrow. Today. is ExxonMobil’s foundational principle that guides our efforts to safeguard the environment and support the social and economic needs of the community in which we operate. This principle underpins our framework of rigorous standards and best practices that drive our environmental performance. Through ongoing engagement, our stakeholders help us identify relevant biodiversity and ecosystem services for integration in our project design and operational practices.

 

Management and application

For major projects, we use an Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment process to identify and evaluate environmental, social and health risks.  We also use an Environmental Business Planning processes 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 habitats1, we follow the Cross Sector Biodiversity Initiative’s mitigation hierarchy2, 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 training is available to all employees to highlight the importance of this focus area, our approach and available tools. Included are examples of active ExxonMobil programs. 

Project Environmental Standards

In 2021, ExxonMobil updated and enhanced our 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 and/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 manner.

Operations near protected areas

ExxonMobil routinely screens the locations of our major operating facilities using the World Database of Protected Areas, managed by the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre. In 2020, we estimated that nearly 30% of major operating sites were within five kilometers of designated environmentally protected areas. We factored this information into our facilities’ environmental business plans to continue enhancing protective measures and inform our emergency response plans.

The table below provides details of the major operating sites within 5 kilometers of 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

Location

Facility type

Country

Long Island Point Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Reserve UNESCO - MAB, Ramsar Site Within 1 km Fractionation plant and storage Australia
Fawley Solent and Southampton Water Ramsar Site Within 1 km Petroleum refinery and chemical plant United Kingdom
Point Jerome Gravenchon

Marais Vernier et Vallee de la Risle maritime

Ramsar Site Within 1 km Petroleum refinery and lube oil blending plant France
Slagen Bliksekilen IUCN Cat I Within 1 km Terminal Norway
Notre Dame Gravenchon

Marais Vernier et Vallee de la Risle maritime

Ramsar Site Within 5 km Chemical plant France
Altona Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve IUCN Cat I Within 5 km Terminal Australia
Vallejo El Tepeyac IUCN Cat II Within 5 km Lube oil blending plant Mexico

Land management programs

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

ExxonMobil is proud to be a charter member of the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC). We collaborate with the council to certify programs at ExxonMobil locations for conservation at 16 sites around the world including forests, wetlands and grasslands. 

In addition, we work with local education, and community programs to support biological field data collection and promotion of native species. 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, ExxonMobil collaborates with NatureServe, which uses science and data to facilitate biodiversity conservation. Our collaboration has helped 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 Source: Wildlife Habitat Council on behalf of ExxonMobil
Source: Wildlife Habitat Council on behalf of ExxonMobil

FOOTNOTES

1Critical 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.
2CSBI (2015). A cross-sector guide for implementing the mitigation hierarchy.