“BIODIVERSITY” IS ONE OF TOYOTA’S FOUR FOCUS AREAS IN NORTH AMERICA. Biodiversity refers to the variety and interdependence of species and ecosystems and the natural patterns they form. Our biodiversity strategy addresses challenge 6 of THE toyota environmental challenge 2050 by PROTECTING VULNERABLE SPECIES, PRESERVING AND RESTORING HABITAT AND SHARING OUR KNOW-HOW NEAR AND FAR. WE ARE COMMITTED TO OPERATING IN HARMONY WITH THE ENVIRONMENT AND BUILDING HEALTHY ECOSYSTEMS SO THAT FUTURE GENERATIONS MAY CONTINUE TO ENJOY THE NATURAL WONDERS OF OUR WORLD.
INTRODUCTION TO BIODIVERSITY
Biodiversity is a global asset of irreplaceable value to present and future generations. The combination of life forms and their interactions with each other and with the rest of the environment has made Earth a uniquely habitable place for humans. Biodiversity provides many goods and services that sustain our lives. For example, biodiversity is essential to global food security and nutrition, and tens of thousands of plant species are used in traditional and modern medicines.
But populations of vertebrate species – mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish – have declined more than 50 percent over the last 40 years due to a variety of factors, including habitat destruction.6
To address biodiversity issues and improve our relationship to nature, we’ve developed a North American strategy through 2050. To learn about our strategy and how it relates to the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050, read our Biodiversity Position Statement.
14 / TMNA's Approach to Harmony With Nature
Our BIODIVERSITY focus area relates to Challenge 6 of Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050. Toyota recognizes the importance of operating in harmony with nature. We will minimize the disruption of natural habitats as we plan, construct and manage our facilities, and actively enhance the natural balance of plants, animals and ecosystems. Here in North America, we developed an approach to conquering this challenge that involves three actions:
Between fiscal years 2017 and 2021, Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) will:
Partner with third parties to protect globally recognized biodiversity hotspots (on track)
According to Conservation International, there are 36 “biodiversity hotspots” around the world. Biodiversity hotspots are regions with significant biodiversity that are threatened. The 36 areas represent just 2.3 percent of Earth’s land surface, but they support more than half of the world’s endemic plant species and nearly 43 percent of endemic bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species.
During fiscal year 2018, TMNA continued to participate with our parent company, Toyota Motor Corporation, in a global partnership with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, known in the U.S. and Canada as World Wildlife Fund). Toyota is the first car company and the first Japanese company to sign a Global Corporate Partnership agreement with WWF.
As part of the five-year agreement with WWF, effective July 1, 2016, Toyota is donating $1 million to the Living Asian Forest Project, a new series of existing and planned WWF activities to conserve tropical forests and wildlife in Southeast Asia. The project will take place in Borneo (Kalimantan) and Sumatra in Indonesia, both WWF priority places. In the future, the project will expand to the Greater Mekong region. Toyota will continue its support of this project for a total of five years.
The partnership also focuses on increasing the sustainability of natural resources such as wood, paper and pulp, palm oil and natural rubber. Unsustainable production and use of these commodities are among the main causes of deforestation and increased threats to endangered species in these regions.
With demand expected to rise for natural rubber – the main resource for car tires – the partnership recognizes that the sustainable production and use of natural rubber is required for forest ecosystem conservation. Toyota acknowledges the environmental and social challenges surrounding natural rubber and will collaborate with industries and stakeholders to contribute to international standard-setting as well as other related activities that WWF promotes.
Partner with others to help protect and preserve natural habitat in North America (on track)
We are working on a way to better track and quantify the impact of our actions that protect and restore habitat, particularly those that involve team member volunteers. In fiscal year 2018, our partnerships with Wildlife Habitat Council® and the National Environmental Education Foundation supported this target:
- Toyota has about 1,000 acres at 12 sites engaged in conservation programs certified by Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC). Our protected areas include grasslands, wildflower meadows, pollinator gardens and forests. About 700 acres are actively managed and 300 acres are not actively managed but support species management and/or education projects.
- In partnership with the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), Toyota sponsors National Public Lands Day (NPLD), an annual event that is the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the U.S. In September 2017, Toyota’s support made volunteerism possible at 2,100 NPLD sites, where 169,000 volunteers gave 680,000 hours of service worth $16.7 million; see the full story here.
Participate in regional biodiversity activities that support wildlife corridors (on track)
Many of our larger sites are located along the monarch butterfly’s migration pathway. To support monarch butterflies, we have planted pollinator gardens and/or certified monarch waystation habitats in the following locations:
- The assembly plant in Cambridge, Ontario
- The assembly plant in Woodstock, Ontario
- The assembly plant in Princeton, Indiana
- The assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky
- The new production engineering and manufacturing center in Georgetown, Kentucky
- The assembly plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi
- The assembly plant in San Antonio, Texas
- The powertrain plant in Huntsville, Alabama
- The powertrain plant in Buffalo, West Virginia
- The aluminum casting facility in Jackson, Tennessee
- The aluminum casting facility in Troy, Missouri
- The R&D facility in York, Michigan
- The parts distribution center in Boston, Massachusetts
- TMNA’s new headquarters campus in Plano, Texas
In the spring of 2018, new pollinator gardens were planted at the production engineering and manufacturing center in Kentucky and the assembly plant in Texas. See Pollinator Species for more information.
Achieve 20 WHC Conservation Certifications by 2021 (on track)
Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) partners with corporations, fellow conservation organizations, government agencies and community members to empower and recognize wildlife habitat and conservation education programs. WHC’s certification standard, Conservation Certification, recognizes meaningful wildlife habitat management and conservation education programs.
Toyota has 12 sites engaged in conservation programs certified by WHC. Our partnership with WHC began in 1999 when Toyota joined WHC’s membership. In 2008, the conservation program at our Kentucky assembly plant became Toyota’s first WHC certification. WHC helps us inventory plant and animal species on our sites and identify appropriate projects. Our protected areas include grassland, wildflower meadows, pollinator gardens and forests.
During 2018, TMNA evaluated several sites for potential certification. Sites will be implementing programs during 2019 and will apply for certification in 2019 and 2020. In the meantime, several of our sites enhanced their certified programs. Follow these links for a few examples:
- Team members at Toyota’s engine plant in Buffalo, West Virginia, installed four large boulder piles that serve as habitat, installed raptor nest boxes, purchased and installed listening stations for birds and bats so that team members can log the species they hear, installed signs along the nature trail (see photos below), and built an outdoor learning center.
- Team members at our Mississippi plant installed and monitored 13 wood duck nesting boxes.
- At the Texas plant, team members planted a new pollinator garden at the Visitor and Education Center.
Toyota’s engine plant in Buffalo, West Virginia, installed several educational signs along the walking trail to teach visitors about the many species, including pollinators, that can be found at the site. Wildlife Habitat Council awarded the plant’s nature and education programs with a Gold Conservation Certification in 2016.
Toyota’s North American sites with WHC-certified programs are:
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky — certified since 2008 (Gold)
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Cambridge plant — certified since 2017* (Certified)
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Woodstock plant— certified since 2012 (Gold)
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana — certified since 2013 (Silver)
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama — certified since 2014 (Gold)
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi — certified since 2014 (Gold)
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas – certified since 2015 (Certified)
- Toyota Bodine Aluminum, Jackson, Tennessee – certified since 2015 (Certified)
- Toyota Bodine Aluminum, Troy, Missouri – certified since 2016 (Certified)
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia – certified since 2016 (Gold)
- Toyota Arizona Proving Grounds, Phoenix, Arizona – certified in 2017 (Silver)
- Toyota Technical Center, York, Michigan – certified in 2017 (Silver)
*Toyota’s Cambridge and Woodstock plants were first certified as a single program in 2012. The programs have since separated, and Cambridge obtained its own certification in 2017.
Imagine a world without Sumatran tigers. Or Amur leopards. Or Javan rhinoceros. These critically endangered species are iconic, but there are also thousands of lesser known plants, fish, reptiles and other mammals that are threatened by extinction. The loss of these species has implications for ecosystem functioning. And who knows which plant or fungus will provide the next life-saving medicine?
Through a five-year partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Toyota is providing funding to broaden the scope of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. This will significantly increase knowledge on the extinction risk of more than 28,000 species, including many that are key food sources for a significant portion of the global population, and will help IUCN reach its goal of assessing 160,000 species (about 80,000 species have been assessed so far). With our planet experiencing extinctions at the fastest rate in its history, IUCN and Toyota believe there has never been a greater need to understand the status of the species upon which our survival depends.
We can’t protect every species, but we can focus on those that call our sites home. By transitioning our thinking from landscaping to habitat management, we support native species at many of our larger sites. And because pollinator species are so important to biodiversity and agriculture, we pay special attention to the birds and the bees, bats and butterflies.
When managing habitats on our sites, we promote native species by planting native trees and plants and removing invasive species. For example, at our assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, team members control and prevent future growth of cattails and Japanese honeysuckle, both invasive species. Reducing the population of invasive species encourages native wetland species to repopulate, including two endangered plants found on the property: Short's goldenrod and Running Buffalo Clover.
Fifth-grade students from Roch Carrier French Immersion Public School built 25 birdboxes for native migratory birds with supplies provided by Toyota’s assembly plant in Woodstock, Ontario. Team members helped the students install the boxes along the new Wetland Trail.
Later in the season, the fifth graders returned to the plant to participate in birdbox monitoring and count how many boxes were occupied. The plant now has a total of 72 birdboxes on its property, and in the spring of 2018, 53 were occupied by nesting tree swallows, eastern bluebirds and house wrens.
Wood Ducks in Mississippi
Wood ducks are found in various parts of North America. They live in slow-moving woodland rivers, shallow ponds and marshes, often in areas where large shade trees hang over the water. They also can be found in open marshes next to forested areas.
Wood ducks are native to Blue Springs, Mississippi, where Toyota has an assembly plant sitting on 1,500 acres. Toyota’s property provides wood ducks with nesting sites in several of their favorite habitats.
Last year, team members formed teams and adopted wood duck nesting boxes. Almost 40 team members volunteered, and 13 new nesting boxes were built and installed, joining four that were installed the previous year. The teams monitored all 17 boxes and found 150 eggs in the boxes between February and May 2018.
One of the wood duck nesting boxes installed at Toyota’s Blue Springs, Mississippi, plant yielded duck eggs, and eventually, baby ducks. About 135 eggs hatched during the 2018 nesting season. Footage of baby ducks leaving one of the nests was captured by the plant’s external camera.
Pollinators come in different shapes and sizes, from bees to birds, bats and butterflies. They move pollen from the male to the female part of a flower to fertilize the plant.
These industrious creatures pollinate more than flowers. A variety of food crops, like apples, pumpkins and alfalfa, rely on honey bees for pollination. In fact, pollinators affect 35 percent of the world’s crop production, increasing outputs of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide as well as many plant-derived medicines. In the United States alone, pollination of agricultural crops is valued at $10 billion annually. Globally, pollination services are likely worth more than $3 trillion.7
With more than 21,000 acres of land in North America, Toyota is dedicated to doing our part to support pollinator species. Fourteen Toyota sites have pollinator gardens, including new gardens at the production engineering and manufacturing center in Georgetown, Kentucky, and at the assembly plant in Texas.
A few times a year, team members from Toyota’s Texas assembly plant are given the opportunity to visit nearby Bracken Cave Preserve to witness Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from the cave at dusk for their nightly insect hunt. Bracken Cave is the summer home to 15 million of these bats, making it the world’s largest bat colony. Bats are important pollinators – more than 500 plant species rely on bats to pollinate their flowers.
7 Sources for this data include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Pollinators Find a Home at TMMTX
Just outside the Visitor and Education Center at Toyota’s plant in Texas (TMMTX) sits a new 11,000 square-foot pollinator garden. The assembly plant’s environmental team worked with Texas Parks and Wildlife and the San Antonio Zoo to fill the garden with 250 native plants that will attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Urban Biologist Judith Green from Texas Parks and Wildlife designed the garden, selected plants native to the San Antonio region and TMMTX’s soil type, and educated team members on installation, care and maintenance of the garden. The horticulture department at the San Antonio Zoo potted and raised the plants – pesticide free – until TMMTX team members were ready to put them in the ground.
Toyota’s Texas plant is also partnering with the San Antonio Zoo to plant pollinator gardens at six local high schools. Those schools will be provided with educational resources and programming to help students learn about the importance of pollinators in our environment.
These activities enhance TMMTX’s nature and education program, which earned a WHC Conservation Certification in 2015.
Toyota’s assembly plant in San Antonio, Texas, planted a pollinator garden covering 11,000 square feet in front of the newly renovated Visitor and Education Center. The garden has 250 native plants that will attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
Each plant in the pollinator garden has a sign with a QR code that can be read on a mobile device. Using an app called Plants Map, the code brings up information on the plant, including how visitors can grow the plant in their own backyard.
Even in the best of circumstances, the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) has a low chance of survival in the wild. An adult butterfly can lay up to 400 eggs, but only a few of those survive to adulthood. This is what nature intended, except nature didn’t plan on the species declining by 90 percent in the past 20 years.
That’s where Toyota team members come in. At 14 Toyota sites across North America, team members have planted pollinator gardens to nurture monarchs as well as other pollinator species.
In the spring of 2018, a half-acre monarch habitat was planted on the grounds of Toyota’s Kentucky assembly plant through a partnership with Columbia Gas. This habitat, along with three others (at our two plants in Ontario and at the plant in Mississippi) have been certified as monarch waystations by Monarch Watch. Certification as a waystation requires sufficient plant density to provide monarchs with shelter, one or more species of milkweed, one or more species of biennial and perennial nectar plants, and sustainable management practices such as removing invasive species and avoiding the use of insecticides.
All 14 of Toyota’s sites with pollinator gardens are on the monarch migration path. The gardens provide food and shelter to the butterflies at various stages of their life cycle as they make their way south for the winter, then return in the spring. These gardens support the target to promote wildlife corridors.
The monarch is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration. Unlike other species of butterflies that can overwinter as larvae, pupae or even as adults, monarchs can’t survive the cold winters of northern climates.8 Monarchs from the eastern part of North America migrate to the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico, where they spend October to late March roosting in oyamel fir forests. Monarchs from west of the Rocky Mountain range in North America overwinter in California along the Pacific coast near Santa Cruz and San Diego, roosting in eucalyptus, Monterey pines and Monterey cypresses. Some migration routes are 3,000 miles long and it can take a monarch up to two months to complete its journey south.
8 See the U.S. Department of Agriculture website at USDA’s page here: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/Monarch_Butterfly/migration/index.shtml
16 / Toyota and the Monarch Migration
The monarch is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration. Monarchs from the eastern part of North America migrate to the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico, while those from west of the Rocky Mountain range overwinter in California. Some migration routes are as long as 3,000 miles. It can take as long as two months for a monarch to complete the journey south.
Toyota hopes to help the monarchs by offering these colorful commuters a “pollinator pit stop”
Protecting species and conserving habitat go hand in hand – saving the species isn’t possible unless the species has a place to live. Some species require very little area to survive, others roam across vast expanses. To protect and restore habitats large and small, Toyota pursues activities within North America by pursuing Wildlife Habitat Council Conservation Certification and volunteering to restore parks and recreation sites during National Public Lands Day (see the target to help protect and preserve natural habitat in North America). We also participate in a global corporate partnership with WWF (see the target to protect globally recognized biodiversity hotspots).
Toyota is committed to working in harmony with nature, but what does that mean? At Toyota, it means being aware of the environmental impacts of our activities and working to minimize them. But it’s more than that. It’s also about maximizing positive outcomes to create a more sustainable future.
At our assembly plant in Woodstock, Ontario, we are creating a more sustainable future by sharing our land with team members and the public to allow them to experience nature first hand.
In September 2017, the Woodstock Wetland Trail officially opened. The trail is a gift from Toyota to the community to mark the 30th anniversary of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC).
The 2.2 kilometer (1.4 mile) trail is an extension of the Vansittart Woods Trail, which is owned by the Ministry of Natural Resources and used for educational purposes by the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB). The trail was designed and built with help from the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority.
The trail meanders to the north of Toyota’s Woodstock plant through 200 acres of wetlands and woods that are provincially significant, meaning this land has been set aside to be preserved in its natural state.
“The importance of the Wetland Trail can’t be overstated,” explained Brad Hertner, community partnership specialist with the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. “The trail sits on the edge of the Carolinian Zone, which has experienced extensive habitat destruction. Large areas of original forests are gone. That’s why the protection of this area and Toyota’s help in educating visitors about its biodiversity are so important.”
The Carolinian Zone is a vegetation zone that makes up only 1 percent of Canada’s land mass but is the most biodiverse zone, containing more species of plants and animals than any other Canadian region. The Zone contains 70 species of trees, 27 species of reptiles, 20 species of amphibians and countless bird species.
“The trail contributes to our Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) certification and supports the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050,” explained Malinda Salazar, team member relations specialist at Toyota’s Cambridge plant. “Both WHC and Challenge 2050 encourage us to preserve nature and to reach out to our community. The trail is a great way to bring us closer to nature and at the same time, provide an educational opportunity.”
Toyota team members are especially eager to educate children about the animals and plants along the trail. Team members and their families created dozens of colorful trail markers that illustrate some of the creatures seen along the trail. They also created critter cards to illustrate the different butterfly species found along the trail. These cards are handed out with a trail map to students when they come to visit the trail.
“When we take the kids outside, they see everything they’ve learned about in books and in the classroom,” said Malinda. “Education is key to the success of the trail. We encourage our team members to walk it and bring their families along, and we want to teach them a few things along the way.”
In fact, during Earth Month, team members were rewarded for walking the trail with either a pair of baseball caps or an educational kit featuring a sling bag, The Life of Butterflies book, and butterfly monitoring sheets.
As Malinda explained, “The educational opportunities coupled with the amazing plants and animals make the trail extra special. It’s really the perfect place to see nature’s diversity and experience how Toyota is operating in harmony with nature.”
Toyota team member Jennifer De Leur and her son Nolan joined other team members and their families at the Woodstock assembly plant in Ontario, Canada, to paint trail markers. These colorful signs have been placed along the Wetland Trail, which meanders through a portion of the plant’s property and connects to the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Vansittart Woods Trail.
Supporting community initiatives helps to scale up conservation efforts. In the communities where we live and work, we focus our efforts on building knowledge and fostering a love of nature in children through school programs. Allowing youngsters to experience wildlife and learn about biodiversity at an early age helps them understand the value of biodiversity and the importance of protecting it.
Team members at Toyota’s West Virginia engine plant installed an outdoor learning center on site, where the table and some of the concrete seats were made to look like logs and stones to make the space fit seamlessly in its natural setting. Team members invite students from Hometown Elementary and Winfield High School to visit the outdoor classroom and teach them about native species, the role of pollinators and the importance of biodiversity. These education events support the plant’s WHC Conservation Certification.
The outdoor classroom at Toyota’s West Virginia engine plant blends seamlessly into its surroundings. With concrete seats that look like wooden logs and animal footprints in the concrete pad, it’s the perfect spot to bring local students and teach them about species native to Putnam County, the role of pollinators and the importance of biodiversity.