Supporting an independent advisory panel to help restore the Niger Delta
In 2012, in response to a request from Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. (SPDC), IUCN established an independent advisory panel to provide science based recommendations for the remediation and rehabilitation of biodiversity and habitats of oil spill sites in the Niger Delta. The overall objective of this project was to help improve biodiversity conservation and benefit people who are dependent on the health of Niger Delta for their livelihoods.
The independent Niger Delta Panel was created with the involvement of the IUCN Members in Nigeria, the IUCN Commissions and the IUCN Secretariat. The Panel was composed of international and local experts in issues relating to oil spill recovery including, hydrocarbon pollution, biodiversity conservation of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, restoration ecology and environmental sociology.
The IUCN Niger Delta Panel’s main report in 2013 included recommendations to improve the company’s internal environmental management protocols with specific focus on its oil spill response and remediation procedures.
Based on recommendations made by the Panel, SPDC has made a number of changes in their approach to remediation. They have developed Conceptual Site Models for the Niger Delta Ecozones and a Mangrove Habitat Guidance Document. Together with the Panel, they have carried out remediation trials using biosurfactants, enzymes and sorbent products to test their potential to enhance bioremediation of oil-impacted soil. The trial results, which have been peer reviewed and published, recommend fertilizer as the preferred remediation treatment of contaminated soils.
Following advice by the Panel, SPDC is working with Nigerian regulators to develop a Risk Based Framework for management of land contamination, based on international best practice. Another report by the Panel, Developing a Biodiversity Strategy for the Niger Delta, focuses on the effective integration of biodiversity considerations into SPDC's operations.
The Panel's work ended in December 2016, but IUCN recently captured the lessons learned in a new report, IUCN Niger Delta Panel: Stories of Influence.
IUCN and SPDC plan to continue collaborating on the company’s remediation and rehabilitation processes, including monitoring the biodiversity recovery in areas where SPDC’s remediation standard is being applied. IUCN and SPDC aim to share the findings from this work with relevant stakeholders as the work progresses.