Sustainable Land Use and Biodiversity
Our activities have the potential to affect land use, nature and biodiversity, directly and indirectly. Our real estate portfolio includes properties for manufacturing and office use. The construction and operation of these facilities have direct impacts on land.
Ford’s most significant potential impacts on land and biodiversity are indirect, occurring elsewhere in our value chain or arising from the use of our vehicles. Indirect impacts include the extraction of raw materials to make vehicle parts, habitat fragmentation from road construction, localized pollution from vehicles and the potential effects of climate change on biodiversity.
Many of our facilities have taken steps to improve biodiversity and wildlife habitat on their lands, as follows.
A highly visible example of Ford’s commitment to sustainability can be seen on more than 200 acres of Ford-owned land throughout southeast Michigan, which is adorned with sunflowers, wildflowers, prairie plants and other non-turf grass plantings. This landscaping provides habitat for wildlife: for example, fox, wild turkeys and coyote have been spotted on Ford properties. This landscaping reduces mowing and other maintenance costs. By replacing what otherwise would be traditional turf grass, the Company saves approximately 30 percent on the costs of labor, gas and fertilizer. We also use native plants in our landscaping whenever possible, which require less water and fertilizer to maintain.
We are also installing “smart” irrigation systems at some of our Dearborn (Michigan) properties. These systems use site conditions – such as soil and plant types, evapo-transpiration rates and local weather data – to program watering only when it is needed. Based on the experience of other uses, we expect to see water savings from these systems of 30 percent. If the systems prove successful, we plan to implement them at approximately 60 additional Ford sites in the next few years.
Creating Wildlife Habitat
Ford has created wildlife habitats at many of our facilities. We are committed to maintaining our existing wildlife habitat sites and to creating as many new sites as possible in the future. Wildlife habitats on Ford facilities range in size from five acres to more than 100 acres and include ecosystems as diverse as wetlands, woodlands, prairies, meadows and forests. Ford employees, often in partnership with local civic and education groups, develop and maintain the habitats, which host dozens of native plant and wildlife species. At many of the facilities, employees and other volunteers have built nature trails, erected bird and bat houses and planted wildflower gardens, in addition to establishing wildlife habitats. These facilities have also developed community education programs to encourage broader understanding of the importance of corporate wildlife sanctuaries.
In 2009, Ford’s Romeo Engine Plant in Romeo, Michigan, was awarded a Neighborhood Environmental Partners Award from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for its work to build wildlife habitat on the plant site. Plant employees have worked hard to preserve and enhance the wildlife habitat available on the site’s 141 acres, planting trees and building nest boxes to attract native birds, including bluebirds and screech owls. To promote habitat awareness and increase community participation, the Romeo Engine Plant’s wildlife team organizes an annual tree sale and plant exchange, and plant employees organize clean-ups and other activities to celebrate Earth Day.
In February 2010, Ford and Automotive Components Holdings announced the donation of a coastal wetland in Monroe, Michigan, to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The property, known as Ford Marsh, will add 242 acres to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.
In Europe, we have created large natural reserves at our facilities in Valencia, Spain, and Kocaeli, Turkey.
Our Mexican operations and dealers are also working to protect wildlife habitat and biodiversity. Since 1997, our Mexican operation’s “civic committee” has been funding work to protect the peninsular pronghorn, an endangered species in Baja, California. This project has used captive breeding and reintroduction into the wild to increase the number of pronghorns. When the program first began, there were only 160 pronghorns in the area. A comprehensive field census is currently underway, but project managers estimate there are now nearly 900. This project has received global attention because it is one of the only species that has been successfully reintroduced into the wild and is reproducing naturally in its own habitat. This project is managed by Espacios Naturales y Desarrollo Sustentable, a nonprofit organization, and Comisión Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas, the government office that oversees natural protected areas. The project also receives support from Animal Kingdom, the San Diego Zoo and other international wildlife organizations.
Our Mexican operation’s civic committee is also funding the “Mexican Natural Reserves: A Natural Solution for Climate Change,” a communications campaign to raise awareness about the more than 150 natural protected areas in Mexico. The campaign is intended to foster understanding of the important services that these natural areas provide to communities, including air and water purification, food and wildlife habitat. So far, this project has produced several videos of natural areas shown in cinemas, airline TV programs, buses, airports and other locations. The project also includes a print campaign. We are planning to assist with a second phase of this project, which will focus on how people can help to protect natural areas.
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