Shell employees standing next to trees

The Houston Ship Channel recently celebrated its 100 year of operations. Shell and the Port Houston, who manages the busy channel that is number one U.S. port in foreign waterborne tonnage, began working towards the next 100 years on the first phase of a unique project.

“Shell has a significant presence along the Houston Ship Channel, and we’re proud and honored to be able to give back to this community,” said Karrie Trauth, General Manager Shipping, Maritime Americas. “This project exemplifies working together among numerous Shell business, the Port of Houston, and local environmental groups.”

In the first of many projects, over 60 employees from the Shell Shipping Maritime Americas and Shell Trading and Supply (US) rolled up their sleeves and planted 250 trees along the Houston Ship Channel.

A New Approach

This volunteer activity was the first step in the Port of Houston TREES (Tree & Riparian Enhancement of Ecological Services) program, a multi-year collaborative project by Houston Wilderness, the Port Houston and others, focused on targeted large-scale tree planting of up to one million new trees.

“Our employees enjoy being out in their community, giving back and being part of the places they live and work,” said Patrick English, General Manager Trading and Supply Operations Americas. “It was great to be able to work with the Port of Houston, Houston Wilderness and Trees for Houston to make an impact,” he added.

This project along 25 miles of the ship channel uses native trees that absorb high levels of air pollution, water and carbon dioxide. The 250 trees planted included Live Oak, Red Maple, Willow Oak, American Elm, American sycamore, Green Ash and Loblolly Pine.

Shell employees planting trees near Port Houston

Trees By the Numbers

Once the trees in this particular project mature (about ten years old) they’ll collectively sequester around 38,000 of carbon per year, which is equivalent to over 43,000 miles driven in an average passenger vehicle, or enough energy to charge over 2 million cellphones1. And in the Houston area, where storms produce a lot of rain quickly, these trees will absorb up to 16,000 gallons of storm water runoff.

Where do these numbers come from?

“Through large-scale native tree plantings, the Port of Houston TREES Program is a systematic approach to enhance a multitude of ecosystem services along the riparian corridors that encompass the Houston Ship Channel,” said Deborah January-Bevers, President & CEO of Houston Wilderness.

“Beneficiaries of these enhanced ecosystem services include all the people who work and live in and around the Port Houston. Wildlife and migratory birds and insects also significantly benefit from these targeted native trees and pollinator areas, which provide food and shelter and improved habitat corridors for many species of animals,” she added.

Planning for Success

This systematic approach to conservation protects and preserves the natural environment along the ship channel and surrounding areas, while helping combat coastal and shoreline erosion along this important body of water. Once the trees are planted, they are watered and monitored for at least two years to ensure a high rate of survival.

“The Port of Houston has been here more than 100 years, and we happily expect these trees will be here for the next hundred,“ said Kelli Gallagher, Environmental Compliance Coordinator and the TREES project liaison at Port Houston. “Working with Shell and community groups to get the TREES project started has been a great experience.”


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