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The world’s population is expected to rise to 9 billion by 2050, 2 billion more than today. Many more people are expected to live and work in cities, as energy drives economic progress. But these shifts will place more pressure on the natural environment.  Wherever we operate we take steps to limit our impact and we are supporting environmental projects around the world, such as the examples below.

A home for oysters

Oyster reefs are the foundation of healthy bays and estuaries, providing food and habitat for wildlife – and people.

But intensive oyster harvesting, combined with pollution and disease, have contributed to an 85% drop in oyster beds worldwide, according to The Nature Conservancy, an environmental organisation in the USA, Shell partners with the non-profit organisation National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to support conservation and restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska through the Shell Marine Habitat Program.

Shell has invested nearly $12 million, providing over 200 grants to environmental organisations and restoring around 300 acres of oyster reefs.

The Nature Conservancy is among the organisations that receive a grant.

It builds artificial reefs to promote the growth of oyster beds in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico.

Oyster larvae cling to the reefs, made out of concrete balls or steel cages filled with discarded shells.

“Through the creation of these living reefs, scientists are restoring the natural balance of our coasts,” says Cindy Brown, Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico programme.

“They are creating long-term, sustainable solutions to problems like erosion and sea-level rise.”

Public vote for environmental projects

Canada’s forests and wetlands are rich in biodiversity. As part of our efforts to help protect the environment and sustain ecological goods and services, we spend CAD $2 million each year on environmental programmes.

Members of the public can vote for individual projects online, for example to protect mountain caribou, or to safeguard basking sharks.

Projects with the most votes receive grants of up to CAD$100,000.

Whale Release and Strandings, a non-profit organisation that rescues whales, basking sharks and sea turtles caught in fishing nets or stranded on beaches, was among the 2011 grant recipients.

It received $25,000 for a new boat and other equipment.

“This year we responded to several humpbacks entangled in fishing gear and used the boat from Shell,” says Wayne Ledwell Director of Whale Release and Strandings.

“The grant will help us protect marine animals in the region for the next decade.”

Helping restore reefs

The Verde Island Passage in the Philippines teems with over 1,000 species of fish and 330 species of coral.

But illegal methods of fishing and shipping threaten the coral reefs and wider marine ecosystem which nourish the fish locals rely on for income and support the tourist industry.

Shell, together with joint venture partners Chevron and Philippine National Oil Company, produces natural gas in this country.

It supports a programme on protecting and restoring corals and related marine ecosystems.

The Malampaya Foundation Inc. is part of a marine conservation network that involves local and national governments along with other non-profit organisations.

The Verde Island Passage in the Philippines teems with over 1,000 species of fish and 330 species of coral.

But illegal fishing and shipping threaten the coral reefs which nourish the fish locals rely on for income and support the tourist industry.

Shell, which produces natural gas from below the sea here, is supporting a programme to train local divers in protecting coral. They remove debris from the seabed and place buoys to guide ships away from reefs, preventing anchor damage.

The programme, run by the Malampaya Foundation Inc. and Batangas Coastal Resources and Management Foundation, is part of a network for marine conservation.

“The joint efforts of the Malampaya Foundation, Inc. and the community divers are overwhelming,” says Meaghan Markey, a Peace Corps volunteer.

“It definitely gives hope to our threatened environment.”