Through our partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), BHP invested US$14 million in 2016 in the Sustainable Rivers and Forests Initiative, supporting conservation in the Columbia Bottomlands region in the US states of Texas and Arkansas.
The site of the first capital of the Republic of Texas, much of the Columbia Bottomlands has been lost or impacted by development. Today, only 25 per cent of its natural landscapes remain intact, making the region a national conservation priority. Protecting and restoring its old-growth forests helps protect water quality in the Brazos, San Bernard and other major rivers and streams.
BHP’s investment is the largest private conservation funding in the Columbia Bottomlands and highlights our commitment to the conservation of critical natural areas to improve environmental and community outcomes.
One of the locations that is part of this initiative is the Brazos Woods Preserve, located 60 miles southwest of Houston in the heart of the Columbia Bottomlands. It sits on 505 acres of ancient forests, wetlands and native Texas grasslands and is a globally imperilled habitat and one of the state’s most biologically diverse regions.
In honour of BHP’s contribution to support the protection of this critical natural area,TNC held an event on 6 April 2019. Given the close proximity to BHP’s Houston office, it provided an opportunity for BHP employees, their families and members of the community to experience this unique area.
The following week, 38 BHP employee volunteers returned to take part in some hands-on conservation work with TNC. This included removing old and redundant ranch infrastructure such as a corrugated metal barn and half a mile of barbed wire fence and posts, with all materials reused or recycled. The volunteers also planted 1,500 pecan seeds across 4.5 acres for reforestation.
Participation in these events provides an opportunity for our employees to learn about sustaining our natural environment and about how BHP’s investments can make a positive contribution to conservation.