BIODIVERSITY is one of Toyota’s four focus areas in North America. Our activities focus on expanding our partnership with the Wildlife Habitat Council, engaging team members in pollinator protection activities, enhancing native species on our sites, and outreach with our communities. We are doing our part to protect biodiversity so that future generations may continue to enjoy the natural wonders of our world.
- Toyota currently has over 1,000 acres across nine North American sites certified to the Wildlife Habitat Council’s Wildlife at Work program.
- Toyota’s assembly plant in Mississippi planted four pollinator gardens last year; all four were certified by Monarch Watch as monarch waystations. Waystations offer habitat for the monarch butterfly, whose numbers have declined 90 percent in the last two decades.
- Over 130,000 trees were planted at Toyota’s Indiana assembly plant between 2008 and 2014. In 10 years, when these trees reach their peak, they will be capturing and storing 2,170 tons of CO2 from the air annually.
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. We benefit from the resources they provide, including fresh water, fertile soils, food, ingredients for medicines, shelter and recreation.
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.
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, several more Toyota facilities have been certified as Wildlife at Work sites (see Biodiversity Target).
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.
Toyota Bodine Aluminum Tennessee and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas (TMMTX) are the latest to apply for WHC certification for Wildlife at Work. Both plants were certified in late 2015. See Pollinators for information on their pollinator gardens.
At TMMTX, a critical component of the site’s wildlife management plan is managing feral hog populations. Feral hogs destroy habitat, compete for resources with other wildlife, and sometimes come into contact with team members. They also facilitate the growth of invasive plants by damaging and disrupting native vegetation. TMMTX works with a trapper to set and maintain five traps for feral hogs. The traps have proven effective, as the number of hogs spotted onsite has decreased over the past few years. The site’s biodiversity team continues to manage this population.
Biodiversity Target & Performance
Target: Certify 9 sites with the Wildlife Habitat Council by the end of 2016 (achieved)
WHC awards certifications in November of each year. Because of this timing, our target is based on a calendar year cycle. As of the end of 2015, Toyota had nine 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; recertified in 2014
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Woodstock plant — certified in 2013 for Wildlife at Work; recertified in 2014
- 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
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas – certified in 2015 for Wildlife at Work
- Bodine Aluminum (Jackson, Tennessee) – certified in 2015 for Wildlife at Work
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, bats and butterflies.
These industrious creatures pollinate more than flowers. A number of food crops, like apples, pumpkins and alfalfa, rely on honeybees 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 (Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).
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 honeybees and other pollinators 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.
Toyota on Monarch Migration: Traffic Welcome
Butterflies play an irreplaceable role in plant reproduction. Unfortunately, the monarch population in North America has declined 90 percent over the past two decades. In fact, scientists from several environmental organizations filed a petition asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to classify the monarch as “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Toyota hopes to help stem that by offering these colorful commuters a “pollinator pit stop” on their trip south in the fall and north in the spring. It helps that a number of Toyota facilities are located along the monarch’s migration pathway, from Canada in the north, through the U.S., to Mexico in the south.
A number of Toyota’s North American plants are developing monarch butterfly waystation habitats onsite and in the surrounding community. The waystations contain wildflowers and milkweed. Wildflowers provide nectar for the adults while milkweed serves as food and shelter for monarch larvae.
- Toyota’s North American manufacturing headquarters (TEMA) in Erlanger, Kentucky, has a pollinator garden with a butterfly pond.
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (TMMK) has two monarch waystations onsite and has supported our additional waystations in surrounding communities.
- Toyota Bodine Aluminum Tennessee (BAI), located in Jackson, worked with a landscaper to plant over an acre of Southeastern Wildflower mix. BAI is an aluminum casting facility that manufactures engine blocks for Toyota. The site’s biodiversity team is focusing on providing the essential habitat components for pollinators, birds, bats and other wildlife, as well as encouraging team members and the community to explore and learn more about native species.
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas (TMMTX) has four pollinator gardens onsite. Team members are working on increasing the variety of native species in these gardens.
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi (TMMMS) planted four pollinator gardens alongside two new pavilions built by team members. The pavilions include a number of sustainable features, including furniture made from recycled plastic, solar lighting and rain water harvesting. All of the gardens were certified by Monarch Watch as monarch waystations.
- In Cambridge, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) has over 150 milkweed plants already established; additional wildflowers were planted this year to enhance pollinator habitat.
- In Woodstock, TMMC enhanced naturally occurring wildflower and milkweed growth by adding new wildflower mixes. Monarch butterflies and their caterpillars have been observed in these areas. Monarch larvae eat milkweed leaves as their first meal and use the plant for shelter as they grow. To increase awareness of the importance of monarch butterflies and other pollinators, team members created a new pollinator garden using both wildflower mixes and plants from the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
A key aspect 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.
In May 2008, the Environmental Affairs team at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana (TMMI) 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 has planted 130,900 trees in the last six years. 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.
And in 10 years, when the trees reach their peak, they will be capturing and storing 2,170 tons of CO2 from the air annually*.
* This estimate is based on a methodology used by U.S. EPA in its Greenhouse Gas Equivalency Calculator, where it is assumed that it takes about 10 years for a tree to reach its full potential for sequestering carbon.
SPOTLIGHT: Soaring High
If you’ve ever been on a long car ride, you’ve probably seen a red-tailed hawk. These birds of prey soar high above the ground, slowly making a circle with their broad, rounded wings. They occupy just about every type of open habitat in North America. And thanks to a few of our team members, several of these majestic birds call Toyota home.
It all started in June 2008, when a pair of red-tailed hawks built a nest on a utility pole at Toyota Arizona Proving Grounds (TAPG) in Phoenix. Somehow, one of the adult hawks died, leaving a chick in the nest.
“That’s when we called in the experts,” said Daryl Petry, senior specialist at TAPG. “Liberty Wildlife brought the baby hawk to their rehabilitation center and nurtured it for six months. Then they brought the young hawk back to TAPG for release.”
Returning the chick to the wild wasn’t the only objective. “We were hoping the other adult would return,” explained Daryl. Pairs of red-tailed hawks often refurbish nests they’ve used in previous years. Their nests are tall piles of dry sticks that can be up to 6.5 feet high and three feet across. So for the safety of the hawks – and to avoid power outages – team members put up a 15 meter pole within 50 meters of the original nest, then transferred the nest to the pole.
Transferring the nest proved to be a good move. “Since we put up the pole, there have been eight red-tailed hawks born in the relocated nest,” said Daryl.
Team members continue to watch over these birds. Earlier this year, a chick was found out of its nest. “We partnered with Liberty Wildlife again, who transported the chick back to their facility for rehabilitation,” explained Daryl.
In October 2015, the young hawk was released at TAPG. It is now soaring high, enjoying the view of the desert and TAPG’s 12,000 acres. “The hawks are amazing to watch,” Daryl exclaimed. “It’s nice to know we had the opportunity to provide the hawks with a safe nesting location. Many thanks to the wildlife specialists for helping us make this a success.”
Our biodiversity efforts extend beyond our facilities into our communities. We participate in a number of conservation activities 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. For example:
- Team members at our Indiana assembly plant helped the Boy Scouts build over 400 Eastern Bluebird boxes to distribute in local communities. These boxes provide nesting sites.
- In September 2014, over 3,000 Toyota team members volunteered at 44 sites across the U.S. for National Public Lands Day.
- A number of sites host annual Earth Day/Earth Week/Earth Month events to educate team members about Toyota’s environmental commitment and provide them with opportunities to participate in activities that protect nature. For example, the local Audubon Society chapter was included in the lineup of Earth Week guests to educate team members at our Texas plant about the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center. The center is one of the 44 NPLD sites supported by Toyota in 2014.