Biodiversity refers to the variety of animal and plant life on Earth. The diversity of living organisms, and the habitats in which they live, are crucial for the functioning of ecosystems and the resources and benefits they provide, such as fresh water, fertile soils, food, medicines, shelter and recreation.
- Since 2010, Toyota's Kentucky assembly plant has established 10 beehives onsite. Some 85,000 happy honeybees produced more than 100 pounds of honey in 2014, which was given away to visitors.
- Over 130,000 trees have been planted at Toyota's Indiana assembly plant over the last six years. The area has become a thriving habitat for wildlife.
- Toyota currently has over 1,000 acres across seven North American sites certified to the Wildlife Habitat Council's Wildlife at Work program.
Human activities can have great influence — both positive and negative — on biodiversity. That's why Toyota strives to minimize negative environmental impacts (for example, by generating less waste) and maximize positive ones. Our biodiversity efforts are currently centered on activities that maximize species protection, habitat restoration and employee engagement.
Pollinators move pollen from the male to the female part of a flower to fertilize the plant. There are a variety of pollinators, ranging from bees to birds to butterflies.
These industrious creatures pollinate more than flowers. A number of food crops, like apples, pumpkins and alfalfa, rely on honeybees for pollination. Bees are the most recognized pollinator, and the most effective. But hard times have befallen the honeybee. Over the past decade, colony numbers in the U.S. have dropped to their lowest in 50 years.
That's why efforts to protect these species are so important. With 21,000 acres of land in North America, we decided we could put this acreage to good use by planting pollinator gardens. A number of sites, including those certified or applying for certification with the Wildlife Habitat Council, are already maintaining pollinator gardens, and more are on the way.
The Buzz About Bees
As the weather warms, honeybees wander down Cherry Blossom Way to the walls of a building at Toyota's plant in Georgetown, Kentucky. Swarms of these precious pollinators are a potential safety issue. But Toyota eliminates concerns by establishing onsite hives each spring. The plant has successfully established 10 hives since 2010, resulting in more than 85,000 happy honeybees. The honeybees get a new home and the facility's garden yields go up. A nice byproduct: The plant also gifts more than 100 pounds of Cherry Blossom Honey to visitors.
Toyota's parts distribution center (PDC) in New Jersey is also abuzz about helping bees. Thanks to the PDC's recent donation, the Montclair Historical Society has two new honeybee hives to pollinate its working farm and gardens. The hard-working bees in each hive collect around 66 pounds of pollen per year, according to Bee Bold Apiaries, the organization that maintains the Montclair hives. That pollen helps ensure the farm yields a healthy crop for those in need; all food grown there goes to feed low income families in the area.
All Aflutter About Butterflies
Millions of monarch butterflies fly south every winter from Canada through the United States all the way to Mexico. Along the way, butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed plants. Monarch larvae eat the leaves as their first meal and use the plant for shelter as they grow.
They also pollinate. But monarch numbers have been declining over the past several years. To help reverse this trend, several Toyota locations, including the plants in Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and Indiana, committed during National Pollinator Week (June 16-22, 2014) to certifying Monarch Waystation Habitats. Waystation habitats are places that provide the necessary resources for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. These waystations provide milkweed for larvae and energy sources from wildflower nectar for adult butterflies.
Toyota's Georgetown, Kentucky, plant has two waystations onsite, one at the Childcare Development Center and another along the Environmental Education Center | Nature Trail. Team members are also taking their pledge to protect pollinators out into the community. The plant is supporting four monarch waystation habitats at Liberty, Breckenridge and Yates Elementary Schools in Lexington and at the Yuko-en Park in Georgetown. Toyota provided the seed packets and signage for each site to show it has been registered with MonarchWatch.org. Toyota also provided the Child Development Center with books and posters during Kentucky's Pollinator Week in June.
With support from Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi, a garden of wildflowers was planted at a new park in Blue Springs to support the natural migration path of the monarch butterfly. Click here for more information about the Toyota-Blue Springs Water Garden and Education Park.
We expect to see monarchs at these stations in the fall, and plan to provide an update to our efforts in next year's report.
A core part of our biodiversity strategy focuses on restoring native species. Restoration activities are often conducted with input from wildlife specialists and other interested third parties, who help us assess the needs of the area, such as the health of a watershed or whether endangered species are present. A number of these efforts are conducted as part of Wildlife Habitat Council certification activities. Some of our larger sites are also reforesting some of their open spaces with native trees, which also provide habitat for other indigenous species.
Seeing Indiana's Forest for the Trees
Aside from being a great place to work and producing world-class vehicles, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana (TMMI) strives to be an environmental role model. The plant has shown 130,000 reasons why its environmental efforts are gaining traction.
In May 2008, TMMI's Environmental Affairs team began a project that called for planting native species of trees on many of the 1,160 acres of land the automaker calls home. TMMI does in fact see a forest in its trees: 130,900 trees have been planted in the last six years, bringing the project to completion. That number equates to more than 25 trees planted for each of the plant's 4,700 team members.
The area has become a thriving habitat for wildlife, including white-tailed deer, red-tailed hawks and even bobcats. Neal Bogan, a naturalist with the Wesselman Nature Society, helped perform a species survey of the reforested area. "Toyota's reforesting efforts are helping wildlife," said Neal. "I saw several locally rare species of migratory birds on the property, some I believe to be nesting there. These include Bell's vireo, woodcock, common yellowthroat, and bobwhite. The species found here could use the area as a starting to point to move out into the surrounding properties and possibly repopulate some of the surrounding area."
"It's amazing to think we could be the reason hawks and bobcats call more of Indiana home," said Norm Bafunno, TMMI President. "Our biodiversity efforts mean a lot to the community, but they also are very important to our team members. TMMI is very proud of the support and dedication from the team members that made this forest a reality."
PARTNER: WILDLIFE HABITAT COUNCIL
Our partnership with the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) began at our Georgetown, Kentucky, plant in 2008, when it became the first Toyota plant to obtain certification to WHC's "Wildlife at Work" and "Corporate Lands for Learning" programs. Since then, six more Toyota facilities have been certified as Wildlife at Work sites.
Three additional sites, including the R&D centers in Ann Arbor and York, Michigan, are planning to submit applications for certification; certification is expected in 2015.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing de Baja California (TMMBC), our plant in Tecate, is considering certification. TMMBC has a 133-acre parcel of land on their property certified by the local government as a wildlife preserve. TMMBC is now working with a university to develop a wildlife management plan for this area. The wildlife management plan would meet one of the prerequisites for WHC certification.
The Wildlife Habitat Council is a nonprofit group of corporations, conservation organizations and individuals dedicated to restoring and enhancing wildlife habitat. WHC works with corporations and other landowners to create tailored voluntary wildlife habitat enhancement and conservation education programs on corporate facilities and in the communities where they operate.
The Wildlife Habitat Council's Corporate Wildlife Habitat Certification/International Accreditation Program recognizes commendable wildlife habitat management and environmental education programs at individual sites. Certification criteria are stringent. Sites must demonstrate programs have been active for at least one year and have a management plan listing goals, objectives and prescriptions as well as complete documentation of all programs. The Certification Review Committee, a panel of WHC wildlife biologists and staff, reviews the materials for certification eligibility and recognizes deserving projects under an appropriate category.
Wildlife at Work in Mississippi
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi (TMMMS), where we assemble Toyota Corollas, is built on 1,500 acres in Blue Springs. According to a recent species count, 74 species call TMMMS home, including 20 species of mammals and 28 species of trees. TMMMS is committed to protecting these species and their habitats and to showing how industry can live in harmony with nature, as instructed by our global Earth Charter.
In June 2014, TMMMS submitted an application to the Wildlife Habitat Council for certification as a Wildlife at Work site. Three major projects supported this application, which was approved in November 2014:
Team members have turned parking lots into pollinator gardens. When the plant was first starting up, five acres on the north side of the plant were used for parking. These lots are no longer needed, so team members removed gravel, added top soil, and planted wildflower seeds. Now flowers bloom every summer, and with the help of biologists at Mississippi State University, TMMMS is developing a plan to further improve the pollinator gardens and bring in more native species.
During construction of the plant, retention ponds were built to manage the runoff of storm water. Beavers began building dams at the discharge points at several of the ponds, causing water to back up. Team members eventually stopped fighting nature's most famous builders. Allowing the water to back up ended up creating a huge lake where 50 ducks, as well as fish and other species, now call home.
DUCK NESTING BOXES
Wood ducks have long been a favorite bird among hunters, birders and the general public. However, the combination of heavy hunting and habitat destruction almost resulted in their extinction in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Fortunately, hunters and conservationists noticed the plight of this species in time. The wood duck was given legal protection from hunting and a major campaign began to provide nest boxes for this species. The current flourishing population attests to the success of this effort. Wood ducks are now being hunted again with careful regulation. Most important, they can be enjoyed by more and more people as their range expands to the north and west.
Wood ducks are found in slow-moving woodland rivers, shallow ponds and marshes, often in areas where large shade trees overhang the water. They also occur in open marshes adjacent to forested areas. The TMMMS site provides wood ducks with the opportunity to nest in several of these types of habitats.
As a part of the 2013 Earth Day Celebration, the plant's environmental staff worked with the Boy Scouts of America to identify 10 local scouts to come on site, and with the assistance of 10 Toyota volunteer team members, build 20 wood duck nesting boxes. After researching wood duck habitat, the team members identified 20 locations for the nesting boxes. The boxes are monitored for activity during the wood duck nesting season.
Only one year later, in 2014, team members discovered three of the boxes had eggs.
TMMMS has been designated a "Model Sustainable Plant" by our parent company in Japan. A model sustainable plant is a leader in the efficient use of energy and resources, uses the latest innovative technology, protects biodiversity, and supports the local community.
Biodiversity Target: Certify 9 sites with the Wildlife Habitat Council by the end of FY2016 (on track)
Toyota currently has seven sites certified with the Wildlife Habitat Council:
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky — certified in 2008 and recertified in 2013 for Wildlife at Work and Corporate Lands for Learning
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Cambridge plant — certified in 2013 for Wildlife at Work
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Woodstock plant — certified in 2013 for Wildlife at Work
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana — certified in 2013 for Wildlife at Work
- Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America — certified in 2013 for Wildlife at Work
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama — certified in 2014 for Wildlife at Work
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi — certified in 2014 for Wildlife at Work
Our biodiversity efforts extend beyond our facilities into our communities. We participate in a number of initiatives to help protect pollinators and other species, plant trees, restore habitats, spruce up state and national parks, clean up waterways, and educate children about the importance of biodiversity. Examples include: