“BIODIVERSITY” is one of Toyota’s four focus areas in North America. We are 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
Biological diversity – or biodiversity – is the term given to the variety of life on Earth and the natural patterns it forms. This diversity is often understood in terms of the wide variety and interdependence of plants, animals and microorganisms that inhabit the planet. So far, about 1.75 million species have been identified. Scientists’ estimates on the number of species range between 3 and 100 million.
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).
According to WWF, humans are behind the current rate of species extinction, which is 100 to 1,000 times higher than nature intended. Populations of vertebrate species – mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish – have declined 52 percent over the last 40 years due to a variety of factors, including habitat destruction. The loss of so many species impacts the balance of nature and threatens the ecosystem services on which life depends.
This is a problem that Toyota cannot address in isolation. Protecting life on land is a shared challenge that requires a shared response. By protecting and restoring terrestrial ecosystems, and halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss, we are helping to build a healthier future for society, business and the planet.
CHALLENGE 6: HARMONY WITH NATURE
Our BIODIVERSITY focus area relates to Challenge 6 of Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050, which directs us to establish a future society in harmony with nature. If humans and nature are to coexist long into the future, Toyota needs to do our part to conserve forests and other rich natural systems in all regions. This challenge recognizes biodiversity as a global issue that must be managed locally and regionally as well as globally.
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:
- Protecting species, both native and threatened. When managing habitats on our sites, we promote native species and remove invasive species. We also support various pollinator species, such as the monarch butterfly, honeybees and birds.
- Conserving habitat within North America toward a goal of conserving or restoring more acreage than we occupy. We will continue to seek Conservation Certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council for our North American sites, and we will work with communities and other partners to protect and restore habitats within North America.
- Sharing our know-how and engaging in outreach with stakeholders to scale up progress to the point of creating positive change. We will support efforts to conserve or restore more acreage than we occupy. Key to our engagement is working with local communities as well as other partners to protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems and other biodiversity hotspots.
To advance us on this journey, we set four fiscal year 2021 environmental action plan targets, which direct us to partner with others to protect a globally recognized biodiversity hotspot, partner with others to help protect and preserve 50,000 acres of habitat in North America, participate in regional biodiversity activities that support wildlife corridors, and certify sites with the Wildlife Habitat Council. Our progress is described in the next section.
15 / 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)
During fiscal year 2017, TMNA continued our 17-year partnership with WWF in the Galápagos Islands (see feature story) and participated in a global partnership with WWF led by our parent company, Toyota Motor Corporation. 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, which went into effect on 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 will also focus 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 50,000 acres of natural habitat in North America (on track)
We are working on a way to better track and quantify our actions that protect and restore habitat, particularly those that involve team member volunteers. In fiscal year 2017, we counted three activities toward this target:
- Toyota has about 1,000 acres protected at 12 sites with Conservation Certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC). Our partnership with WHC helps us inventory plant and animal species on our sites and identify appropriate projects. Our protected areas include grasslands, wildflower meadows, pollinator gardens and forests. See Wildlife Habitat Council Certifications for more information.
- In partnership with the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), Toyota sponsors National Public Lands Day, an annual event that is the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the U.S. In September 2016, 1,755 team members volunteered at 56 sites around the nation to build and maintain trails and remove invasive species on public lands; see the full story here.
- Toyota continued to work with WWF to protect the Northern Great Plains, a short- and mixed-grass prairie that spans 180 million acres and is one of only four remaining intact temperate grasslands in the world. In the Mississippi River basin alone, over 2.8 million acres of grasslands are lost annually. Demand for agricultural commodities and new drought-resistant, bioengineered crops encourage the degradation of native grasslands and drain waterways and watersheds. Development, roads and fences, habitat clearing and invasive plant species are causing habitat fragmentation. With the help of partners and supporters, including Toyota, WWF's Northern Great Plains program includes working with ranchers and Native American Tribes to return bison to their ancestral homeland, establishing the first tribal national park, and creating sustainable ranching initiatives.
Participate in regional biodiversity activities that support wildlife corridors (on track)
Many of our 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 13 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 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
See Monarch Butterflies for more information.
Certify with Wildlife Habitat Council at least two new sites per year (on track)
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 2017, Toyota has 12 sites certified with WHC (certification tier is in parentheses):
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky — certified since 2008 (Gold)
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Cambridge plant — certified since 2013 (Certified)
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Woodstock plant— certified since 2013 (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)
- Bodine Aluminum, Jackson, Tennessee – certified since 2015 (Certified)
- Bodine Aluminum, Troy, Missouri – certified since 2016 (Gold)
- 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)
For more on WHC Certification, click here.
16 / Wildlife Habitat Council Conservation Certifications in North America
Imagine a world without the Giant Panda. Or Amur leopards. Or Javan rhinoceros. These are iconic species, but there are also thousands of plants, fish, reptiles and other mammals that are threatened by extinction. Losing these species has implications for ecosystem functioning. And who knows which plant or fungus will provide the next wonder drug?
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.
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 that there has never been a greater need to understand the current status of the species upon which our survival depends.
See Figure P03 for a list of the endangered and protected species found at our sites and what we do to protect them.
When managing habitats on our sites, we promote native species by planting native trees and plants and removing invasive species. For example:
- At the three new campuses in Plano, Texas; Georgetown, Kentucky; and York, Michigan, native species were planted to create habitats for migratory birds and small mammals around the new building structures.
- Between 2007 and 2014, team members at our assembly plant in Indiana planted 130,900 native trees on 1,160 acres that created a thriving habitat for wildlife, including white-tailed deer, red-tailed hawks and bobcats. The first trees planted have already reached maturity after growing for 10 years. When all the trees reach their peak in a few years, they will be capturing and storing 2,170 tons of CO2 from the air annually.3
- Team members at Toyota’s proving grounds in Arizona (TAPG) installed four rainwater collection troughs that provide drinking water to native wildlife. Motion-sensitive cameras placed nearby have captured coyotes, roadrunners, turkey vultures, quails and bobcats. The strategic placement of the troughs keeps wildlife away from the test tracks.
- Team members at our assembly plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi, installed four wood duck boxes. A female wood duck has been coming back to one of the boxes for the last four years. This year, there were 17 eggs in the box, and they all hatched.
- At our assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, two endangered plants can be found on the property – Short's goldenrod and Running Buffalo Clover. Short’s goldenrods were nurtured in the on-site greenhouse, then planted along the nature trail. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service provided several endangered Running Buffalo Clover plants, which were carefully placed to provide the specific combination of sun and shade needed for the plants to flourish. Team members continue to protect these species. They also 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.
A male Tree Swallow is seen on one of the 33 bird boxes installed by team members at the assembly plants in Cambridge and Woodstock, Ontario. In the spring of 2017, 137 baby Tree Swallows hatched in these boxes, up from only 46 the previous year. Tree Swallows are small, migratory song birds with long, pointed wings. They like their space, so boxes are placed 150 feet apart. Tree Swallows are native to Ontario and are protected by Canada’s Migratory Birds Convention Act.
3 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.
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 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.4
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 more than 21,000 acres of land in North America, Toyota is proud to do our part to support this strategy. Four Toyota sites maintain honey bee colonies. The parts distribution centers in Boston and West Caldwell, New Jersey, began hosting hives in the spring of 2017. Each site has two hives maintained by Urban Beekeeping Laboratory and Bee Sanctuary, Inc., a nonprofit organization on a mission to improve bee health. They have launched an innovative new public-private partnership linking corporate-sponsored honey beehives with communities in need of access to ample pollinators.
Corolla Assembly Manager Rich Kufske is the bee keeper for the hives at Toyota’s Cambridge, Ontario, assembly plant. The hives produced 18 kilograms of honey in 2016, which was donated to the Haven House, a women’s shelter in Cambridge. If the weather cooperates in 2017, Rich expects to harvest even more honey.
4 Sources for this data include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
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 13 Toyota sites across North America, team members have planted pollinator gardens to nurture monarchs as well as other pollinator species. Three of our sites have planted monarch waystations that have been certified by Monarch Watch (the plants in Cambridge and Woodstock in Ontario and the plant in Mississippi). The assembly plant in Kentucky planted two monarch waystations on its property and supported four more in surrounding communities. 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.
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.
This information supports the Biodiversity Target to support wildlife corridors.
17 / 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.
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 (see the target to help protect and preserve 50,000 acres of natural habitat in North America) by:
- Pursuing Wildlife Habitat Council certification,
- Volunteering to restore parks and recreation sites during National Public Lands Day, and
- Partnering with WWF to protect the Northern Great Plains;
And globally by:
- Participating in a global corporate partnership with WWF (see the target to protect globally recognized biodiversity hotspots) and
- Partnering with WWF in the Galápagos Islands (see the feature story).
See also Figure P04 for a list of TMNA sites in or near a protected area, critical habitat or biodiversity hotspot.
Wildlife Habitat Council Certifications
Toyota has about 1,000 acres protected at 12 sites with Conservation Certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC). Our partnership with WHC, which began in 2008 when our Kentucky plant became Toyota’s first certified site, 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.
The Wildlife Habitat Council is a nonprofit group of corporations, conservation organizations and individuals dedicated to restoring and enhancing wildlife habitat. The Wildlife Habitat Council’s Conservation Certification recognizes meaningful wildlife habitat management and conservation education programs at individual sites.
Toyota’s new purchasing and prototype development center opened in York, Michigan, in May 2017 and received Conservation Certification from WHC in November 2017. The site, has a large storm water retention pond supporting migratory birds and a variety of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and insects. A grasslands and wildflower habitat area covers 76 acres and offers team members a walking trail through the southeastern portion. Native deciduous trees and pollinator gardens have been planted on three acres along the south gate entrance on Pratt Road and near two of the main buildings. Walkways through these areas allow team members the opportunity to enjoy nature and learn a little about some of the species that share their space.
Toyota Arizona Proving Grounds (TAPG) in Phoenix also received Conservation Certification from WHC in November 2017. To prevent red-tailed hawks from nesting on dangerous utility poles, they installed a 15-meter high pole to provide a safe nesting site, and 12 hawk chicks have been born in the new nest since 2008. They also created an outdoor classroom to share with students and teachers from the Nadaburg Unified School District.
For a list of TMNA sites certified with WHC, see the target to certify at least two new sites per year.
Raising awareness is essential to the success of conservation efforts, and the younger the audience, the better. Many of our sites volunteer with local elementary and high schools to teach students about the importance of biodiversity and how they can do their part. In the spring of 2017, team members from Toyota’s powertrain plant in Buffalo, West Virginia, continued their long-standing partnership with Hometown Elementary School by helping students and teachers release 100 trout at Kanawha State Forest in Charleston, West Virginia. With the help of volunteers from Trout Unlimited, students had raised the trout in an aquarium at school until the trout were big enough to be released in the wild.
At TAPG, we created an outdoor classroom on five acres to share the beauty and diversity of the desert landscape with students and teachers from Nadaburg Unified School District. Team members worked with WHC to develop the program, lesson plans and activities. The outdoor classroom was used for about 200 hours of learning during the 2016-2017 school year. Lessons included mapping skills, plant and animal identification and classification, animal habitat identification, and creating food chains and food webs. Students also learned how natural hazards can change the landscape over time. Each time they visited the classroom, students recorded weather and other data, which are being used to track changes over time.
As part of Earth Day in 2017, TAPG donated time and funds to help plant trees on the school’s new nature trail, which is designed to mimic the desert plant life at TAPG.
Students from Nadaburg Unified School District inventory cacti and other desert species at Toyota’s proving grounds in Arizona, where an outdoor classroom is providing a hands-on opportunity to learn about wildlife.
Toyota Bodine Aluminum in Troy, Missouri, is a 500,000-square foot facility that supplies four-cylinder, six-cylinder and eight-cylinder aluminum castings to support all Toyota assembly operations in North America. The facility sits on 80 acres and employs 800 team members.
In addition to the humans, the Bodine plant is home to many other creatures, including the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis). Male Eastern Bluebirds are a brilliant royal blue on the back and head, and warm red-brown on the breast. Blue tinges in the wings and tail identify the grayer females.
Eastern Bluebird populations fell in the early 20th century as aggressive introduced species such as the European Starling took over the bluebirds’ nesting holes. But the species recovered after successful nest box campaigns alleviated much of this competition, especially after the use of nest boxes designed to keep out the larger European Starling increased. Eastern Bluebirds can now be seen across much of eastern North America and south as far as Nicaragua. They’re most common along pastures, agricultural fields, suburban parks, backyards and golf courses.
Toyota Bodine Aluminum is happy to share our land with these little songbirds. Team members built and installed six cedar nesting boxes for Eastern Bluebirds, spread around 30 acres of the site. The nest boxes were designed by the Missouri Department of Conservation with small openings to allow the Eastern Bluebirds in and keep predators out. The boxes are mounted on stainless steel poles to keep snakes out.
The birds are attracted to wide open spaces, and with input from a Wildlife Habitat Council biologist, the boxes were situated around a storm water pond in an open field behind the plant.
“The placement of the nesting boxes turned out to be ideal,” explained Vicki Hamilton, environmental assistant at Toyota Bodine Aluminum. “We were thrilled to see all six boxes occupied this spring. This project really shows our team members and the community how we can make a positive impact on biodiversity here.”
The nest boxes provide an opportunity to educate team members about the Eastern Bluebirds, which also happens to be Missouri’s state bird. Information about the species is posted on boards throughout the plant and on the internal TV network.
Thanks in part to these efforts, the Troy plant received Gold Conservation Certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council in 2016.
Team members built and installed six cedar nesting boxes, and in the spring of 2017, all six were occupied by Eastern Bluebirds. These songbirds, once threatened by introduced species, now thrive with the help of nesting boxes specially designed for their small size.
Supporting community initiatives helps to scale up conservation efforts. TMNA’s work in the Galápagos Islands is a telling example of how we have been sharing our know-how: We helped these remote islands design and implement a clean energy system and a waste management structure, both needed to protect the fragile ecosystem. Toyota’s intent from the start was to fund projects that would act as catalysts to spur long-term, sustainable change. As the feature story explains, that’s exactly what happened.
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.
- 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. Since 2000, the partnership has provided millions of dollars of support through hands-on expertise, training, publications and grants to over 6,000 schools across Canada, reaching close to 1.2 million elementary and secondary school students and 96,000 teachers and school staff.
- In August 2016, Toyota presented a $1 million donation to Yellowstone Forever (the park’s charitable foundation) to support development of a new Yellowstone Youth Campus. The new campus will be a home for immersive youth programming in the park, creating a place of learning for future generations of conservationists and a pretty cool hang-out to share experiences. The campus will serve as the home of two youth programs, each with a national reach – Expedition Yellowstone and the Youth Conservation Corps.
In 2017, Toyota Canada team members participated in WWF’s CN Tower Climb for Nature, which brings out thousands of supporters and raises essential funds to support WWF’s conservation priorities. Participants are challenged to climb the 1,776 stairs of Toronto’s tallest tower. Toyota Canada’s team of 33 team members raised $8,354, putting them in ninth place among participating groups.