Toyota's Blossoming Commitment: Nurturing Biodiversity through Bees and Butterflies

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Humans can’t exist without biodiversity. Bees, butterflies and many other species are responsible for the food we eat, and their habitats provide us with fresh water, shelter and raw materials. Ecosystems provide over half of global GDP and encompass diverse cultural, spiritual and economic values.1


The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023, Special Edition, United Nations, page 42.

“Respect for the Planet” means protecting biodiversity is one of our highest priorities


Even though Toyota’s business does not directly depend on nature in the same way as an agricultural or food and beverage company, we recognize the importance of biodiversity to the lives of our team members, customers and society in general.


Biodiversity is constantly under threat, whether from deforestation, species extinction or habitat loss. These threats are not new, but they are accelerating. In 2015, the United Nations (UN) established a global goal to protect biodiversity: Goal 15: Life on Land is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that form the cornerstone of the UN’s “2030 Agenda.”


The 2030 Agenda is a 15-year plan (2016-2030) to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives of everyone, everywhere. We are now at the halfway point, and the UN is holding an SDG Summit this month to discuss the progress of the goals. According to a recent UN report, some progress has been made on biodiversity, particularly in sustainable forest management, the designation of protected areas and the incorporation of biodiversity values into national accounting systems. But the overall trend is worsening and there is still much to do.


At Toyota Motor North America (TMNA), we are doing our part to contribute to the achievement of Goal 15. Biodiversity is one of TMNA’s four environmental sustainability focus areas. Our strategy is crafted to leverage the expertise of specialists to help us safeguard species and restore habitats where feasible, and broaden the scope of our initiatives in communities to achieve greater conservation results.


Paris Climate Agreement logo

Bees, butterflies & other vital pollinators support biodiversity


Biodiversity is a very broad concept, so we’ve chosen to focus on a group of important species familiar to us all: pollinators. Pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, flower flies, beetles and bats. Everyone has encountered at least one. These species are vital to our food supply, with about 75% of crop plants requiring or benefiting from pollination. In fact, every third bite of food that we take is made possible by the efforts of pollinators.2


Pollinators can be found all around us, so we all have opportunities to help protect them. From a single pot of flowers on a balcony to a sprawling acreage of land, creating a pollinator garden of any size can help these vital creatures thrive. 


The Importance of Pollinators, U.S. Department of Agriculture 


Our plans to enhance 26,000 acres of pollinator habitat


And speaking of habitat, the loss of habitat is one of the most pressing threats facing pollinators. That’s why we have established a target within our current five-year environmental action plan to focus on pollinator habitat enhancement.


The target: enhance at least 26,000 acres of pollinator habitat in North America between 2021 and 2026. To achieve this target, we are providing support to two nonprofit organizations – the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and Pollinator Partnership (P2). 



Acres of Pollinator Habitat Enhanced

NEEF Biodiversity Conservation Grantees
          Catalina Island Conservancy 2,738.5 acres
          Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden* 1 acre
P2 Grants
          U.S. 2,207.1 acres
          Canada 12.5 acres
          Mexico 5,379.8 acres
TOTAL 10,337.9 acres

* The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden was granted a six-month extension due to permitting delays that pushed them past the spring planting season. We will update the acreage at the end of 2023.

Graphic of Toyota vehicle in front of a wind farm

Supporting Pollinators at Gemperle Orchards

California’s Central Valley is unique with its Mediterranean-like climate that is ideally suited to grow almonds, making it the source of roughly 80% of the world’s supply.3

Pollinators – especially honey bees – are essential to the success of almond farms. Every almond we eat exists because a honey bee pollinated an almond blossom.

That’s why Gemperle Orchards, owned and operated by siblings Christine and Erich Gemperle, has been a long-time supporter of Pollinator Partnership (P2). Gemperle Orchards has been certified by P2 as a Bee Friendly Farm as part of participating in P2’s Bee Friendly Farming program. The program, through funding from TMNA, provides funds for plants, irrigation supplies and labor, which Gemperle Orchards used to purchase and install hedgerow plants in early 2023.

“Planting hedgerows has been a real gamechanger for the farm,” Christine explained. “It not only supports pollinators, but it also brings many other benefits to the quality of the soil, water and function of the farm. We use less water and less chemical inputs in our operations because we choose to reap the natural benefits of pollinator habitat such as pollination services, erosion control, pest control, and water filtration and hold capacity, to name a few.”

Christine is preparing to plant a much larger hedgerow this fall, which will expand and enhance pollinator habitat on the farm.

Gemperle Orchards’ experience with pollinators highlights the intricate relationship between biodiversity, climate change and water. Climate change is making California more prone to water scarcity, which in turn is leading to species and habitat loss. While California is mostly past the severe drought that plagued the state between 2020 and 2022, farmers had no choice during this period but to reduce the amount of water needed to grow crops. Almond growers responded with innovation and ever-increasing precision, developing new techniques to best conserve water. According to the Almond Board of California, 85% of California almond growers – including Gemperle Orchards – now use micro irrigation, which conserves water by applying it directly to a tree’s roots rather than across an entire field. The resulting decrease in water use also means less chemical use, which is beneficial for pollinators that can be sensitive to fertilizers and pesticides.

“An orchard is a long-term investment,” said Christine, “and we need to make sure that we adopt innovative sustainability practices and act like stewards of the land if we want to be here for the next generation.”

California Almond Industry Facts, Almond Board of California, June 2016