Our ambition and commitments

Biodiversity is one of four priority topics in our environmental framework.

Our ambition is to have a positive impact on biodiversity.

Our new commitments from 2021

Our new projects in areas rich in biodiversity – critical habitats1 – will have a net positive impact2 on biodiversity, starting implementation in 2021.

Our nature-based solutions projects, which protect, transform or restore land, will have a net positive impact2 on biodiversity, starting implementation in 2021.

We will replant forests, achieving net-zero deforestation3 from new activities, while maintaining biodiversity and conservation value, starting implementation in 2022.


Our existing commitments

We will not explore for, or develop, oil and gas resources in natural and mixed World Heritage Sites.

We will further improve the way we operate in International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Category I-IV protected areas, and areas of high biodiversity value.

We will publicly report on our activities in IUCN Categories I-IV.

We will work with IUCN and others to help safeguard protected areas.

Man working in water

Our approach

What we do as an energy company can affect local habitats and the communities that depend on them. When planning a project in critical habitat, we use a mitigation hierarchy – a decision-making framework that involves a sequence of four key actions: avoid, minimise, restore and offset.

Our priority is to avoid negatively impacting biodiversity and ecosystems. For example, by avoiding certain areas and timing our activities so that we do not disturb sensitive species. Where we cannot avoid, we aim to minimise our impact. For example by designing parts of our operations to reduce their effect on local wildlife.

Where our operations have affected biodiversity, we take steps to restore habitats, for example by planting native vegetation which enhances biodiversity. We also look for opportunities to make a positive contribution to conservation, such as taking part in environmental research projects. Read more about our impact assessment process at Shell.

Read examples of how we work to protect biodiversity near our existing operations and projects at life on land and life below water.

Three Shell Employees working

Operating in areas rich in biodiversity

Shell believes some areas are too sensitive to enter. In 2003 we made an industry-leading commitment not to explore for, or develop, oil and gas resources in natural and mixed World Heritage Sites.

Now we want to go further and demonstrate a net positive impact to biodiversity from our new projects in critical habitats – areas that are rich in biodiversity. This will include investing in conservation and taking measures which will safeguard and, where possible, enhance local environments.

This commitment will apply to all new projects. We will incorporate these requirements into our processes and apply them from 2021.

Evidence of enhancement of biodiversity may take time, but we will report our progress in our 2022 Sustainability Report.

Man standing on the mountain

Nature-based solutions

As well as tackling carbon emissions, nature-based solutions (NBS) can protect and restore biodiversity. We are investing in protecting and developing natural ecosystems, such as forests, grasslands and wetlands, to capture carbon from the atmosphere and help our customers offset their emissions. In 2021, we expect to invest around $100 million in nature-based solutions.

Now we plan to go further and demonstrate net positive impact for biodiversity in our NBS business. To progress this commitment, from 2021, our new NBS projects will include conservation objectives to enhance biodiversity.

We are already taking steps to improve biodiversity in our work with Forestry and Land Scotland to preserve and extend ancient native woodlands in the Scottish Highlands. By planting more than 200,000 trees of many varieties, including Caledonian pine, we can help the forest to regenerate and preserve habitats that will benefit animals such as pine martens, ospreys, black grouse and red squirrel. Read the story: 'Sowing seeds for the future'

Improving biodiversity takes time. As we grow our investments in NBS, we will report our progress, starting in our 2021 Sustainability Report.

Net-zero deforestation

We have set a new commitment that we will replant forests, achieving net-zero deforestation from new activities, while maintaining biodiversity and conservation value.

This commitment applies to land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than five metres and a canopy cover of more than 10%, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ. It does not include land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.

Our businesses will start to identify where there is loss of forest (under the above criteria) when they are planning new activities. They will identify areas for replanting to ensure that ecological conservation is maintained.

We will start to include these requirements into our internal processes, for example impact assessments, during 2021 and we expect to start implementation from 2022. We will share our progress in our 2022 Sustainability Report.

Man and women planting tree

Working with others

We have a long history of working alongside our global environmental partners: the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy, and Earthwatch.

Read more about our partnerships at environmental and social partners.

Keeping on track

For information about our activities in IUCN Category I-IV protected areas see environmentally sensitive areas.

We report our progress and performance in our annual Sustainability Report.


The incredible journey of Flex the Whale

A young whale’s remarkable migration across vast ocean distances has led scientists to a new understanding of the world’s grey whales.

Conserving the coral triangle

The Shell-supported Malampaya Foundation is empowering local communities to help to conserve one of the world’s most biodiverse marine environments.

Life on land

We work to protect biodiversity near our operations in a number of different ways around the world.

Life below water

Ocean biodiversity is at risk from overfishing, pollution, climate change and other factors.