Why it matters
Agriculture is dependent on healthy ecosystems to sustain our global food supply. Supporting solutions that protect ecosystems is paramount to meeting this demand. Biodiversity and biodiversity gains provide a buffer against variability in farm productivity, improve crop pollination, and increase natural resistance to weed, pest, and disease invasions.
Our work on biodiversity supports the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Nutrien is committed to helping protect biodiversity by contributing to the next wave of innovation and sustainability in agriculture. We support sustainable practices across our sites, operations and communities. We consider impacts to biodiversity directly at our operation sites, and indirectly through our agricultural products and services.
Nutrien’s Biodiversity Strategic Issue Team (“B-SIT”) provides cross-functional subject matter expertise and a platform for transparent communication and strategic guidance throughout the Company.
Collaboration: We believe that solving some of our biodiversity challenges will require collaboration inside and outside our industry. Two of our key biodiversity-related partnerships are:
- Nutrien is one of 23 WBCSD member companies participating in the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (“TNFD”) pilot program. TNFD is an emerging framework, following in the footsteps of TCFD, that can provide guidance for businesses to meet the growing expectation of nature-related risk and opportunity disclosures and encourage finance flows to improved environmental outcomes. Our role is to provide feedback from an agriculture perspective into the development of the TNFD beta framework before its expected final release in September 2023.
- Nutrien participates in the Natural Climate Solutions Alliance, which aims to scale up affordable natural climate mitigation solutions for achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. Natural climate solutions include reforestation; protection and conservation; livestock, animal and land management; and coastal wetland and peatland restoration, among others.
Impact assessment: In 2023, we expect to complete a company-wide assessment to understand nature-related dependencies, impacts, risks and opportunities in our operational footprint and downstream value chain. This work will inform Nutrien’s own goal and target setting.
Nutrien recognizes the intrinsic value of protected areas and legally recognized areas of high biodiversity, and we are committed to being in regulatory compliance. In the normal course of operations, if a planned project may impact a protected species, or is subject to a regulatory review (for example, the Impact Assessment Act in Canada or the National Environmental Policy Act in the US), we work through proper permitting including measures to minimize potential impacts. Nutrien protects non-agricultural production lands through conservation, and the reclamation and remediation of lands where Nutrien has, or has had, operations. We work with environmental authorities and properly restore land (post-mining) using local and native plant varieties, which can often enhance biodiversity.
Wetland restoration: Wetlands play an integral role in improving water quality and supporting biodiversity. Nutrien successfully creates, restores and enhances wetlands at our Aurora, NC and White Springs, FL Phosphate mine sites. For every wetland acre impacted, we are required to restore or create up to two wetland acres that are often more diverse and productive than prior to disturbance. Areas restored to wetlands are either marginal agricultural lands or monoculture pine plantations that are restored by planting a wide variety of native wetland trees and shrubs, to support biodiversity. Since the late 1970s, we have reclaimed nearly 30,000 acres of mined land and restored 10,000 acres of off-site wetlands at both mine sites, planting approximately 30 million trees. The Aurora site has also permanently protected approximately 3,330 acres of natural uplands and wetlands in the surrounding area to preserve native plant and animal habitat. Nutrien has earned federal and state awards for wetland restoration surrounding Aurora.
Biodiversity at the farm level: Our products and services improve yields on existing agricultural land, reducing the need to convert more land for agricultural purposes, and many of them protect our natural carbon sinks and biodiversity. We use Agrible® to document sustainable and productive acres in the US that also include biodiversity metrics.
Biodiversity highlights from across our operations
- Legacy Wetland Restoration Program
Since 2012, our donation has helped protect 650 acres of wetland on 3,700 acres of total habitat: Nutrien supports Ducks Unlimited Canada’s® (“DUC”) Legacy Wetland Restoration Program, which restores wetlands and degraded habitat and uses conservation easements to protect the land in perpetuity before re-selling it back into the community. Since 2012, our cumulative donation of $1.15 million has been continually reinvested in Western Canada, protecting approximately 650 acres of wetlands on more than 3,700 acres of total habitat.
- Forage Program
Since 2010 217,000 acres have been converted to perennial cover, which serves as nesting habitat for waterfowl: Supported by Nutrien Ag Solutions, the Forage Program is one of the primary ways DUC works with landowners to restore vital waterfowl nesting habitat while restoring forages across the Canadian prairies. The program provides an incentive for landowners to convert cultivated land to perennial cover, which provides nesting habitat and grass for the beef industry. Since 2010, DUC has converted more than 217,000 acres and engaged more than 1,800 landowners.
- Pollinator Support
Since 2021, 40 acres of pollinator seed blend have been planted: In the last few years, we have protected pollinators and supported biodiversity by adding honeybee hives to the reclaimed phosphogypsum stack at Fort Saskatchewan, AB and safely moving a swarm of bees from our Redwater facility to a more suitable hive. Learn more about Fort Saskatchewan and Redwater. Since 2021, we have planted 40 acres of grasses and a wildflower pollinator blend to foster biodiversity as part of our legacy gypstack reclamation efforts near Conda, ID.
- Threatened species protection in Florida
23 gopher tortoises protected: Nutrien’s White Springs Phosphate mining operations in northern Florida is home to the gopher tortoise, a threatened species. As White Springs’ operations have expanded, the site’s environment team has been working alongside state officials in relocating gopher tortoises to a protected on-site location – a reclaimed phosphate mine that is ideally suited to their habitat preferences, which currently accommodates 23 tortoises and is permitted to accommodate up to 80 tortoises. The 58-acre site is protected through a conservation easement and will forever be a home for the tortoises. Nutrien’s onsite Environmental Supervisor is certified as an authorized agent to handle tortoise relocations in house, ensuring they can be moved safely and set up to thrive.
- Peregrine falcon protection
Home for a breeding pair of peregrine falcons: Nutrien’s Redwater, AB Nitrogen and Rocanville, SK Potash facilities have each been the spring and summer home for a breeding pair of peregrine falcons. The species has a status of “special concern” in Canada, and we have prioritized their conservation and safety. You can view Redwater's Falcon Cam here.
Supporting efforts against deforestation in Brazil
Nutrien opposes illegal deforestation and is committed to helping protect forests. Illegal deforestation continues to be a concern across the world and especially in Brazil. In 2022, Nutrien sponsored a Brazilian study, coordinated by CEBDS (Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development) in partnership with Imaflora, that analyzed the relationship between agri-food chains and deforestation. The study piloted satellite imagery and other georeferencing tools to evaluate whether illegal deforestation practices are occurring within local growing regions. The final report includes a geospatial analysis, a qualitative review of literature, an assessment of regulations in place, a summary of the role of various stakeholders in addressing the issue and includes case studies of several companies operating in Brazil and how they are helping address deforestation within their supply chains.
Our operations in Brazil are taking steps to help address illegal deforestation by using a third-party digital tool, to automate the screening of both new and existing grower customers for indications that they may be engaged in illegal deforestation activity. The screening tool provides information on socio environmental risks including those related to potential illegal deforestation from public databases (provided by Federal and State Environment bodies; among other databases). Nutrien Soluções Agricolas screens the grower and if the database results indicate potential compliance issues, Nutrien will work with that grower and a third-party environmental consultancy firm to bring expected change to their farming practices within a reasonable time period (and generally, no longer than a six-month period). If the grower does not agree to this engagement or meet the compliance in that expected time frame, Nutrien Soluções Agricolas will no longer do business with the grower. This process is part of Nutrien’s efforts to help prevent illegal deforestation while educating and working with its customer base which we believe are important steps in supporting long-term solutions for combating deforestation.