ALBERTA – Suncor Energy of Calgary celebrated the planting of the five-millionth tree at its oil sands site north of Fort McMurray on Sept. 23, 2011. The event coincided with the one-year anniversary of the opening of Wapisiw Lookout, the world’s first oil sands tailings pond to be re-vegetated and reclaimed.
The tree planting, which was highlighted during a ceremony attended by Suncor executives and employees, local politicians and other local stakeholders, featured Ivy Wigmore, an elder with the Mikisew Cree First Nation who planted one of the first trees on Suncor’s oil sands site in the late 1960s.
Wapisiw Lookout, formerly known as Pond 1, was the company’s first storage pond for oil sands tailings when commercial production began in 1967. The site was active until 1997 when it was decommissioned. Over the next two decades, Suncor reclamation experts will closely monitor progress on Wapisiw Lookout, including the growth of 630,000 shrubs and trees planted in 2010. Ongoing soil, water and vegetation assessments will help ensure a return to a self-sustaining ecosystem. Wapisiw Lookout is expected to be a 220-hectare area of mixed wood forest featuring a small wetland and capable of supporting a variety of native plants and wildlife.
For more information about Wapisiw Lookout, including photos, a video and live webcam of the area, visit www.Suncor.com/Wapisiw.