Land management & biodiversity

Ten Million Trees
To learn more about the Ten Million Trees program

Since 2001, close to 97,000 trees have been distributed in Québec through the 10 Million Trees program.


Earthwatch Diaries
Read the diaries of the Alcoa employees who participated in EarthWatch programs around the world.

Case study
Notable visitors


Alcoa and the Manicouagan – Uapishka WBR: present their model of a fruitful partnership at UNESCO


Ecosystem services review of an aluminum smelter in a biosphere reserve


All case studies

Consistent with its environmental policy, Alcoa actively endorses the concept of biodiversity conservation by operating in a manner that minimizes its impact on natural habitats and biological resources worldwide.


Preserving biodiversity is a key consideration when planning new operations, modernizing existing facilities, shutting down assets that are no longer in use, and in the day-to-day management of the lands we own. We seek to avoid sensitive areas whenever possible and to minimize the disturbance of original habitats. We also work closely with communities and authorities to restore lands we impact in the most productive way possible, including where feasible, re-establishing pre-operating conditions.


Alcoa recognizes the potential ecological impacts of its facilities, aims to minimize any negative impacts while promoting positive opportunities. To this end, the corporation has established a strategic sustainability goal for all of its locations that have substantive biodiversity values and land holdings: to develop a biodiversity management plan by 2015.


Impacts on biodiversity

To minimize our impact on the environment, we have sampling, monitoring and control programs in place at all major sources of emissions at all of our Québec facilities.  We are particularly vigilant when it comes to the potential impact of fluoride emissions on the delicate vegetation growing in the areas surrounding our facilities.  We ensure the quality of wastewater discharges through regular monitoring.  And finally, studies were conducted to assess the contamination of soils on our plant sites, as agreed under the Québec Government’s Industrial Waste Reduction program.


As part of the modernization of the Baie-Comeau Smelter, we tested a new tool developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI).  The tool assessed our dependence on services provided by ecosystems and the impact of our future operations on these ecosystems.  This assessment complemented the environmental impact study conducted for the project.  While it did not reveal any new major issues, it did help us better understand our reliance on services provided by ecosystems.  As a result, we were able to identify new opportunities for action, particularly in the area of cultural services.  The results of our assessment were shared with the WRI.


Sediments in the Baie des Anglais were found to have been contaminated by PAH and BCP deposits from past activities at the smelter, which may have affected biodiversity in the bay. The quality of the sediments at the Anse du Moulin in Baie-Comeau was the subject of a number of studies and a rehabilitation project will be reviewed as part of an impact study being published in the spring of 2013.


The Baie-Comeau pier refection, completed in October 2012, required very special environmental surveillance to prevent works from disturbing marine mammals. No less than 111 “visits” were recorded during the project, bringing work rapidly to a stop, in each occasion, to avert possible incidents.


10 Million Trees

We also proactively foster biodiversity. On Earth Day 2003, recognizing the essential role that trees play in the biosphere, Alcoa pledged to plant 10 million trees around the world. Alcoa Canada Global Primary Products has made its contribution to this initiative by distributing almost 97,000 trees and shrubs to date.


Earthwatch Expeditions

By virtue of its support of the Earthwatch Institute, Alcoa can offer its employees and partners the opportunity to participate in Earthwatch expeditions around the world. While contributing to the body of knowledge needed to build a sustainable future, this hands-on contribution to field research offers participants a rich opportunity for personal development, creates solid relationships between environmental organizations and industry, and increases awareness of and appreciation for the Earth's ecosystems.


Manicouagan-Uapishka World Biosphere Reserve

While none of our facilities are located within or in proximity to a protected area, the Baie-Comeau Smelter is situated near the Parc Boréal de Baie-Comeau and is actually found inside the Manicouagan-Uapishka World Biosphere Reserve (MUWBR), which was created in 2007. Alcoa sits on the sits on the MUWBR’s issue table and ensures, through financial and technical support, that the organization is able to fulfill its mission. The close and fruitful collaboration between the managers of this reserve and our team in Baie-Comeau has become an example for other WBR managers around the world who share their lands with an industrial operation.