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Protecting biodiversity

Powering progress

  • Our ambition is to have a positive impact on biodiversity.
  • Our new projects in areas rich in biodiversity – critical habitats – will have a net positive impact on biodiversity, starting implementation in 2021.
  • Our nature-based solution projects, which protect, transform or restore land, will have a net positive impact on biodiversity, starting implementation in 2021.
  • We will replant forests, achieving net-zero deforestation from new activities, while maintaining biodiversity and conservation value, starting implementation in 2022.

Our approach

Our ambition to have a positive impact on biodiversity builds on our earlier commitment not to explore for or develop oil and gas resources in natural and mixed World Heritage Sites.

We continue to develop new ways to measure how we are improving biodiversity. These are being incorporated into our processes and systems, including those for nature-based solutions and reforestation. We are working with external experts, such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Earthwatch, to help develop and define our approach and the way we measure our progress. We are also using contemporary techniques such as environmental DNA in our surveys.

We aim to minimise the impact of our onshore and offshore projects on biodiversity and ecosystems, whether life on land or life below water. We apply the mitigation hierarchy, a decision-making framework that involves a sequence of four key actions: avoid, minimise, restore and offset. We assess the potential impact of projects on biodiversity and local communities as part of our impact assessment process (see Respecting human rights and Embedding sustainability into our activities).

All potential new projects are screened to determine if they are located in a critical habitat. If we decide to progress a project that is in a critical habitat, we develop a biodiversity action plan. This sets out actions needed to follow the mitigation hierarchy and, where there is impact, the actions needed to achieve net positive impact. Building a net positive impact is achieved over time, for example, as trees grow or species multiply.

In Australia in 2022, we partnered with Monash University on a four-year restoration programme for Browse Island. The project aims to improve the population and resilience of seabirds, the hatchling survival rate of the green turtle and the health of the reef.

In 2022, we continued to collaborate with the IUCN, non-governmental organisations and other energy companies to develop guidelines for mitigating the impact of solar and wind projects on biodiversity.

For more on our environmental stewardship see

Critical habitats

At the end of 2022, eight of our new projects, which commenced after we made our Powering Progress commitments in February 2021, were wholly or partly located in critical habitats. Of these, four already have a biodiversity action plan in place or under way to work towards a net positive impact. Plans are under development for the remaining projects.

Nature-based solutions

Nature-based solution projects that we invest in follow the requirements of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards (CCB) or their equivalent. The voluntary CCB standards set out criteria for having a positive impact on climate change, local communities and biodiversity. The projects are audited by independent third parties. At the end of 2022, our projects were still in the development phase; we continue to work towards certification.

In Australia, Select Carbon, a wholly owned Shell company, operates projects that are registered under Australian carbon market regulations. (See Carbon credits, including nature-based solutions).


Deforestation occurs when forests are converted to non-forest uses. We use the definition of forest used by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

In 2022, around 145 hectares were deforested as a result of our new activities. We work with partners and stakeholders to develop robust and credible plans unique to each reforestation project.

Read more about biodiversity at

International Union for Conservation of Nature
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Net positive impact
Net Positive Impact (NPI) on biodiversity is a target for project outcomes in which the impacts on biodiversity (i.e. the variety of ecosystems and living things) caused by the project are outweighed by the actions taken to avoid and reduce such impacts, rehabilitate affected species/landscapes and offset any residual impacts. (IFC, 2019)
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Net-zero deforestation
Deforestation occurs when forests are converted to non-forest uses. In line with the definition of forest used by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2020), 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. Biological status of forested areas after reafforestation to be equal or higher from original status.
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