It is critical for humans to conserve forests and other natural environments in all regions for coexistence in harmony with nature. However, deforestation is progressing across the world, resulting in the fragmentation of habitats of diverse species, as well as the continuing loss of biodiversity. This entails a number of issues including the loss of biological resources that are essential for society, causing natural disasters, and spurring global warming, and we believe that it poses a risk to the potential for the sustainability of society as a whole including Toyota. In light of this risk, Toyota launched three “connecting” projects and is taking action to expand activities various regions of Japan and overseas in order to “enrich the lives of communities” in each region. We will expand these activities at group, regional, and organizational levels using the insights we have gathered so far, aiming for a future where people and nature live in harmony.
Although our lives are supported by various benefits brought by biodiversity, some sources say approximately 40,000 species are becoming extinct annually, possibly due to overexploitation of rare species and destruction of ecosystems, including forests, posing a major threat to global biodiversity.
Toyota is carrying out a variety of activities in accordance with the Toyota Biodiversity Guidelines.
Toyota Group companies have conducted afforestation activities at their respective plants and undertaken environmental conservation activities in their surrounding areas. The Toyota Green Wave Project is an initiative to connect regions through these diverse activities promoting harmony with nature. By extending Toyota Group activities to promote harmony with nature in Japan and overseas, we aim to expand natural habitats and help create a sustainable society, benefitting biodiversity.
Specific programs include the Plant in Harmony with Nature Project, which creates environments that foster nature and living creatures, and the All-Toyota Green Wave Project, which fosters ties between local communities and the Group.
Afforestation activities have been conducted since 2007 with the theme of creation of forests at plant sites. The Tsutsumi Plant, where the Prius is produced, serves as a model plant for this project. We expanded activities in FY2018, and in the future will carry out the Plant in Harmony with Nature Project. These activities are not limited to forest environments covering forests at plants, but are being expanded to cover the habitats of various living creatures.
In addition, species that serve as indicators (indicator species) are selected to quantitatively assess ecosystems and are continuously monitored.
The All-Toyota Harmony with Nature Working Group was established by 23 affiliates in May 2015 to undertake Toyota Green Wave Project activities and expand Toyota Group activities in harmony with nature, enhance the dissemination of information, and strengthen Group collaboration.
A booklet with information on the meaning of the Toyota Green Wave Project, the importance of biodiversity, and examples of programs by Group companies was published and distributed to employees and ongoing efforts were made to raise awareness of participation in activities and inform employees about the importance of inter-company cooperation. A dedicated website was also launched to disseminate information on the activities of each company in a timely manner.
Toyota has conducted cooperative activities in Japan and overseas with environmental NGOs including the Toyota Environmental Activities Grant Program and afforestation programs in China and the Philippines. We have established Toyota Today for Tomorrow Project to bolster our long-standing grant program on a global basis. With the aim of contributing to society, we will work together with organizations engaged in nature conservation around the world by establishing projects to solve issues in the areas of living in harmony with nature and biodiversity.
Toyota became the first car company and the first Japanese company to sign a Global Corporate Partnership agreement with WWF.*1 To promote biodiversity conservation, Toyota has made annual 1 million US dollar grants to WWF since 2016. Toyota began a five-year partnership with the IUCN*2 to raise awareness of the biodiversity crisis. Under the partnership, Toyota provides annual grants of approximately 1.2 million US dollars and began support for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (IUCN Red List).*3
In 1999, Toyota was honored with the Global 500 Award from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for its launch of the world’s first mass production hybrid electric vehicle, development of environmental management systems, active disclosure of environmental data, and other initiatives. To commemorate receipt of this award, Toyota established a subsidy program in FY2001 to support the environmental activities of NPOs and other groups with the intention of resolving problems in environmental fields and fostering people responsible for the next generation.
Human resources development is crucial for expanding environmental conservation activities to the future. Consequently, the Toyota Education for Sustainable Development Project promotes sustainable human resource development suited to local communities. Our corporate training approach is to nurture environmentally conscious employees and leverage their awareness to make it better for business. Additionally, we are connecting our training activities to the future by making the best use of the features of business sites and company-owned fields to provide environmental education for children, who will be responsible for sustainable societies in the future.
Toyota Shirakawa-Go Eco-Institute opened in 2005 at the Shirakawa-Go world heritage site with the goals of widely promoting locally rooted environmental education valuing nature’s inherent wisdom. The concept of “living in harmony” is central to the Institute, which is located in rich nature at the foot of Hakusan (Mt. Haku), and which provides many adults and children visiting Shirakawa-Go with hands-on nature programs as well as working on ecosystem surveys of wildlife, along with forest conservation activities.
Forest of Toyota in Toyota City is a company-owned forest near the urban areas. It has been maintained based on the environment of satoyama, which was once part of our lives, creating a forest where living creatures can naturally inhabit.
Since 1997, the forest has been open to the public. Anyone can walk freely through the forest and take part in various events to experience the satoyama environment and learn about nature through their five senses. In 2017, we celebrated 20 years since the forest opened to the public.
In Indonesia, the third largest emitter of CO2 in the world when forest fires, peat fires and other factors are included, in order to preserve swamp forests and prevent CO2 release, accounting for 37% of emissions, in addition to fire prevention and monitoring activities, we are carrying out activities for the economic independence of local residents to prevent the depletion of forest resources. Toyota has verified that a fast growing Napier grass has large yields, with an improved variety to encourage economic independence. In the future, on the basis of cooperation with local companies will verify effectiveness on a practical scale, such as by expanding activities to other rural villages.
To its own forest site in Odai Town, Taki District of Mie Prefecture, Toyota has introduced automobile manufacturing expertise for management, such as soil and water conservation* and providing other functions which benefit the public. We are also conducting programs to learn about forestry and the deep relationship between the forest and human beings fully using the nature properties of Miyagawa region which has the history of timber industry.