In Saudi Arabia, we are acutely aware that the Kingdom is home to a wide variety of unique and ecologically sensitive habitats that require careful stewardship.
With our operations spanning the breadth of the Kingdom’s environmental zones, the protection and preservation of our natural environment for future generations is of vital importance. Our activities strive to better understand ecosystems, and to promote and protect biodiversity through educational programs and positive interventions.
Monitoring and understanding our environment
We continued to monitor marine environments in 2017. In partnership with KFUPM and KAUST, we sustained our program to assess the state of the marine and coastal environments in the Arabian Gulf and develop baseline environmental data for the Red Sea.
With the same partners, we also completed a blue carbon study (blue carbon is the carbon stored and sequestered in coastal ecosystems) to estimate carbon sequestration in company biodiversity areas. The study highlighted that areas such as the Ras Tanura Mangrove Eco-Park and Abu Ali Island are able to store approximately 1.7 million tons of CO2 over the lifetime of the mangroves.
We reviewed the final report of findings related to the monitoring of the more than 700 artificial reef modules we deployed in the Arabian Gulf. Additional reefs will be deployed depending on the success rate of coral growth.
Educating the next generation
Launched in 2007, our Environmental Education Program gives students the tools and understanding to protect the environment and helps build a sense of accountability for their communities. In partnership with the Ministry of Education, this program assists school teachers to develop “Friends of the Environment” clubs. Young people share their newfound skills with their peers in various environmental projects such as flower and tree planting, recycling, conservation, and schoolyard cleaning. Since the program’s inception, it has grown to include 1,836 schools and a total of 1,293 Friends of the Environment clubs.
For people of all ages, our Environmental Protection organization developed a new field guide highlighting the remarkable biodiversity of Dhahran, the site of our corporate head office. The richly illustrated guide is designed to inspire employees and community residents to better understand the wealth of biodiversity in their local area and raise environmental awareness.
Our mangrove plantation initiative to restore lost mangrove habitats in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province coastal areas is on track to plant two million mangrove seedlings by the end of 2018. In addition, the Mangrove Eco‐Park project, currently in the construction stage, intends to preserve ecologically sensitive habitats and raise public awareness of the role mangroves play in providing a habitat for bird and animal species, and as significant carbon sinks.
One of the world’s true wildernesses, the Rub’ al-Khali hosts numerous native reptile and mammal species, along with an estimated 180 bird species. By establishing the Shaybah Wildlife Sanctuary near our facilities, we are helping to preserve this unique ecosystem and protect in situ species. In addition, in partnership with the Saudi Wildlife Authority, we have reintroduced three iconic species that had disappeared from the area: The Arabian oryx, the Arabian sand gazelle, and the ostrich. We are also developing a research station to support national and international researchers to study biodiversity in the Rub’ al-Khali to help us better understand and manage this vast landscape, along with a visitor’s center to help inspire and inform.
Although we are headquartered in Saudi Arabia, our commitment to biodiversity extends to the communities that are home to our global offices and operations. In collaboration with academic and research institutions and other organizations, we continue to conduct initiatives that help protect the biodiversity of land, sea, and coastal ecosystems. These efforts include:
Smithsonian Institution, SI Move (North America): A groundbreaking initiative, SI Move follows various species of terrestrial, avian, and marine animals with satellite tracking devices to improve the understanding of migration patterns and ecosystems. With our support, the Smithsonian has attached satellite devices to more than 75 animals, representing 10 species around the world. As part of our collaboration with SI Move in Saudi Arabia, Arabian oryx, great cormorants, and black-tipped reef sharks will be tracked.
Sea Alarm Foundation, the European Regional Seas Oiled Wildlife Preparedness Program (Europe): The Foundation seeks to establish coastal oiled wildlife response plans and professional response capabilities worldwide. With our support, the foundation is organizing wildlife training and exercise programs for the Mediterranean, Atlantic/North Sea, and Baltic regions.
The Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemistry for Energy Materials (iChEM) (Asia): We have partnered with iChEM, which was established jointly by three Chinese universities, to launch the Energy Environmental Innovation Challenge to support teams of students interested in clean energy, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development.