Toyota has taken a lead in the UK motor industry in establishing a partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to strengthen the ecological and environmental quality of its UK operations. The new collaboration is transforming Toyota’s production sites and its national headquarters into thriving, sustainable habitats for plants and wildlife, supporting Toyota’s global principle of working in harmony with the environment.
At Toyota’s Burnaston car manufacturing plant in Derbyshire, the aim is to create a green grid, demonstrating how a working industrial site can successfully support biodiversity through environmental land management and secure a green legacy for the future, without compromising the cost or efficiency of its core business.
The 2.35 million m2 (580-acre) Burnaston site contains areas of meadow, grassland, wetlands, woods and hedgerows, and is home to more than 400 recorded plant and animal species, some of them rare and protected. Working with Kew’s world-class experts in plant science, Toyota plans to create even more natural habitats, restoring more than 230,000m2 by 2020.
Toyota and Kew reached an agreement on working together in 2013 and this year they have launched a restoration strategy that will extend across the next 10 years.
The activity reinforces TMUK’s status as one of Toyota’s five sustainable plants around the world which pioneer and share best practice in cleaner processes and greener technologies. At Burnaston, this has already witnessed innovative and effective measures to minimise waste, reduce use of natural resources and harness sustainable energy sources, notably through the installation of one of British industry’s largest solar panel arrays.
Kew’s team are involved in the landscape planning and are providing expertise in horticulture, land restoration, seed quality and project implementation, working with a local design practice and landscape contractors. The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is also collaborating in the project and employees have been encouraged to engage in the project, learning more about the thinking behind the changes and getting involved in the planting process.
At the same time, extensive new landscaping and planting has been undertaken at Toyota GB’s sales and marketing headquarters in Surrey. Here, supported by the Surrey Wildlife Trust, the focus has been on identifying and using native plant species from the surrounding countryside and establishing them on site to create an Eco-HQ. The new features include an orchard and meadow.
Further afield, Kew experts have also been engaged to help biodiversity projects at Toyota’s European headquarters in Brussels, technical centre in Zaventem and parts logistics centre in Diest, in Belgium.
Andy Jackson, Head of Kew’s Wakehurst Place, said: “Supporting Toyota’s biodiversity enhancement and habitat restoration plans gives us an excellent opportunity to establish Kew’s reputation for delivering habitat-scale restoration services in the UK. This is also a flagship project for the UK Native Seed Hub, which works with wildflower growers, communities and landowners to enhance landscape through the use of native plants.”
The project has already revealed an area of ancient meadowland on the site, from which large quantities of grass seed have been harvested, dried and stored in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, ready for planting in other locations.
Tony Walker, TMUK Deputy Managing Director, said: “This is a unique project and it marks a radical change in the way we manage our site. We are able to introduce these measures side by side with our essential business of making cars, developing ecology, nurturing biodiversity and extending our commitment to environmental leadership.
“The legacy of this project will be to show that a manufacturer, working with Kew, can create an ecologically rich environment that connects with its local surroundings and community. We hope others will see what we have done and adopt the same approach.”