BIODIVERSITY is one of Toyota’s four focus areas in North America. We are expanding our partnership with the Wildlife Habitat Council, engaging team members in promoting the health of pollinator species and conducting outreach with our communities. We are committed to operating in harmony with the environment and advancing the health of ecosystems so that future generations may continue to enjoy the natural wonders of our world.
- Toyota has over 1,000 acres across 10 North American sites with Conservation Certifications from the Wildlife Habitat Council.
- Team members at 11 North American sites have planted gardens to attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Four sites have even had their gardens certified as Monarch Waystations by Monarch Watch.
- Toyota has been the national corporate sponsor of National Public Lands Day since 1999. The 2015 event contributed an estimated $18 million in volunteer services to improve public lands across the U.S.
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 impacts (for example, by restoring habitat).
PARTNER: WILDLIFE HABITAT COUNCIL
Our partnership with the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) began in 2008, when our Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant became the first Toyota plant to obtain certification to WHC’s “Wildlife at Work” and “Corporate Lands for Learning” programs. Since then, nine more Toyota facilities – for a total of 10 – have been certified by WHC (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.
Toyota Motor North America, jointly with the Wildlife Habitat Council and General Motors, was honored with the Keystone Leadership in Environment Award at the 23rd annual Keystone Policy Center awards dinner. Both automakers partner with WHC to expand wildlife habitat, support pollinator health and enhance biodiversity at manufacturing locations. The Keystone Policy Center established its Leadership Awards program in 1994 to recognize extraordinary leadership by individuals and companies whose work embraces the nonprofit’s model, spirit and mission of inspiring critical thinking, seeking multiple perspectives in decision-making and advancing public policy.
WHC CONSERVATION CERTIFICATION
The Wildlife Habitat Council’s Conservation 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.
WHC recently updated its certification program. Instead of two separate certifications for Wildlife at Work and Corporate Lands for Learning, sites now receive a Conservation Certification. Toyota’s eight sites certified under the old programs are being transitioned. In late 2016, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia (TMMWV) became the latest Toyota site to receive certification, and certification for Bodine Aluminum in Troy, Missouri, is expected by the end of 2016. These are the first two Toyota sites certified under the updated Conservation Certification program.
As part of WHC certification, TMMWV enhanced an existing walking trail lined with 20 birdhouses, three bat houses and 1.5 acres of wildflowers and pollinator gardens. The bird and bat houses were built by a local boy scout troop, girl scout troop and fifth-grade class, with the help of team members. To raise team member awareness of local habitats and the benefits of wildlife, the plant awarded prizes for walking the trail and filling out critter cards. Critter cards help the plant monitor the wildlife around the trail. Between April and July 2016, 170 team members clocked more than 2,000 miles walking the trail and filled out 1,600 critter cards. Many different mammals, birds and insects were spotted, including deer, turkeys, groundhogs, sparrows, ducks, butterflies, bees, sand pipers, frogs and grasshoppers.
Certify 9 sites with the Wildlife Habitat Council by the end of 2016 (achieved)
The Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) awards Conservation Certifications in November of each year. Because of this timing, our target is based on a calendar year cycle. As of the end of 2016, Toyota had 10 sites* certified with WHC:
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky — certified in 2008 and recertified in 2013
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Cambridge plant — certified in 2013
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Woodstock plant — certified in 2013
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana — certified in 2013
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama — certified in 2014
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi — certified in 2014
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas – certified in 2015
- Bodine Aluminum (Jackson, Tennessee) – certified in 2015
- Bodine Aluminum (Troy, Missouri) – certified in 2016
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia – certified in 2016
*Our Cambridge and Woodstock, Ontario, plants, while two separate sites, are covered by a single certification held by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada. Certification for Bodine Aluminum in Troy is expected by the end of 2016; however, at the time of publishing, certification was still pending. Toyota’s manufacturing headquarters campus in Erlanger, Kentucky, was certified in 2013. Because this campus is in the process of moving to new offices in Plano, Texas, and Georgetown, Kentucky, we let this certification expire at the end of 2016. We counted this site in 2013-2015 but did not include it in our 2016 results.
Promoting Pollinator Health
Pollinators move pollen from the male to the female part of a flower to fertilize the plant. Pollinators come in different shapes and sizes, 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 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.*
Bees are the most recognized pollinator and the most effective. But hard times have befallen the honey bee. Over the past decade, colony numbers in the U.S. have dropped to their lowest in 50 years.
That’s why efforts to protect honey bees and other pollinators are so important. In May 2015, an interagency task force under the leadership of the U.S. EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture released a Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, which has three overarching goals:
- Reduce honey bee colony losses to economically sustainable levels.
- Increase monarch butterfly numbers to protect the annual migration.
- Restore or enhance millions of acres of land for pollinators through combined public and private action.
With 21,000 acres of land in North America, Toyota is proud to do our part to support this strategy. Two of our sites maintain honey bee colonies, four Toyota sites have monarch waystation habitats certified by Monarch Watch and 11 sites are maintaining pollinator gardens.
* Sources for this data include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Spotlight: Flying With Monarch Butterflies
The annual migration cycle of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) has been called an endangered natural phenomenon because of the 90 percent decline in the monarch population over the past two decades. 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.
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 as long as 3,000 miles, and it can take a monarch as long as two months to complete its journey south.
Toyota hopes to help the monarchs by offering these colorful commuters “pollinator pit stops” on their trip south in the fall and north in the spring:
- Toyota’s assembly plant in Cambridge, Ontario, has over 150 milkweed plants already established; additional wildflowers were planted last year to enhance pollinator habitat. Their pollinator garden has been certified by Monarch Watch as a monarch waystation.
- Toyota’s assembly plant in Woodstock, Ontario, enhanced naturally occurring wildflower and milkweed growth by adding new wildflower mixes and planted a pollinator garden using wildflower mixes and plants from the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Their pollinator garden has been certified by Monarch Watch as a monarch waystation.
- Toyota’s assembly plant in Indiana planted a pollinator garden in the spring of 2016.
- Toyota’s assembly plant in Kentucky has two on-site monarch waystations and has supported four additional waystations in surrounding communities.
- Toyota’s North American manufacturing headquarters in Erlanger, Kentucky, has a pollinator garden with a butterfly pond. The pollinator garden has been certified by Monarch Watch as a monarch waystation.
- Over 100 team members at Toyota’s powertrain plant in Alabama helped plant a pollinator garden and wildflower meadow with a butterfly and hummingbird wildflower seed mix on half an acre in celebration of Earth Day 2016.
- Toyota’s aluminum casting facility in Jackson, Tennessee worked with a landscaper to plant over 1 acre of Southeastern Wildflower mix.
- Toyota’s aluminum casting facility in Troy, Missouri, planted and maintains a pollinator garden and wildflower meadow.
- Toyota’s powertrain plant in West Virginia has wildflowers and a pollinator garden.
- Toyota’s assembly plant in Mississippi has four pollinator gardens that have been certified by Monarch Watch as monarch waystations.
- Toyota’s assembly plant in Texas has four on-site pollinator gardens. Team members are working on increasing the variety of native species in these gardens.
From Caterpillar to Butterfly
Even in the best of circumstances, monarchs have 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 11 Toyota sites across North America, team members have planted pollinator gardens to nurture monarchs as well as other pollinator species. Four of our sites have planted monarch waystations that have been certified by Monarch Watch. These waystations are on the monarch migration path, meaning they 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.
Last spring, team members from our assembly plant in Woodstock, Ontario, found 14 caterpillars in the swamp milkweed they had planted. To increase their chances of survival, the caterpillars were collected and protected as they matured and finally transformed into butterflies. Thirteen made it to adulthood; these monarchs were fitted with tags from Monarch Watch before they were released. The tags help Monarch Watch collect information about the monarch’s migration, including route and distance travelled. While our tags have not been recovered, we are excited to participate in the continental-wide effort to help this amazing creature.
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:
- To support environmental education, Toyota’s assembly plant in Blue Springs provided land to a graduate student from Mississippi State University to study the effects of soil fracturing on a tree’s root system.
- In May 2016, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) announced CAN$250,000 in funding to the Grand River Conservation Foundation to help expand recreation programs at Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) parks. TMMC team members also help the GRCA annually through participation in Community Support Program Days, when they plant trees and remove invasive species over the span of six days each spring.
- 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, our assembly plant in Indiana hosted a one-day camp for third-graders in 2016 and taught them about pollinators.
- Toyota Canada Inc. partnered with Toyota dealers to hand out tree seedlings to students in Quebec, then partnered with the Eden Projects to plant trees in heavily deforested areas of Madagascar.
- In September 2015, more than 4,000 Toyota team members volunteered at sites across the U.S. for National Public Lands Day. They joined thousands of volunteers who collected approximately 500 tons of trash, built and maintained 1,500 miles of trail, and contributed an estimated $18 million to improving public lands across the country.
- The Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds program helps schools create outdoor classrooms to provide students with a healthy place to play, learn and develop a genuine respect for nature. By planting trees, shrubs and wildflowers, creating meadows, butterfly gardens and other theme areas on school grounds, learning opportunities literally come alive.