The Yorii Plant is not just about cutting-edge hardware. It is also a testing ground for pioneering efforts in community engagement and environmental conservation. Efforts here will serve as a model for other Honda plants around the world.
● Built to support healthy, active ecosystems
Before the plant's construction, Honda hired experts to survey the site and conduct an environmental assessment. Their survey showed that the site and the area around it was once an expansive satoyama environment, one that in modern times had fallen into disuse. Meanwhile, the environmental impact assessment showed that the construction of a plant here would have, as expected, a sizable impact on the surrounding environment.
Facing these findings head-on, Honda decided that the most responsible thing to do as a company that strives to operate in harmony with its surroundings would be not only to minimize the impact of the plant's construction on the environment but to stimulate the natural environment through the creation and continued maintenance of new habitat, and restore the satoyama to its original condition.
● 16,000 m² of life-sustaining biotope
Satoyama are rural areas in Japan where humans have actively managed and taken care of the natural environment while sustainably benefiting from the services they provide. The neglect of a satoyama environment causes it to deteriorate, adversely impacting the wildlife it supports. Honda undertook to conserve and even create new habitats for animals and plants living in the site and the surrounding area, particularly species endemic to Yorii. We dedicated 326,000 m², or 34%, of the site's 950,000 m² to vegetated land and riparian habitat for wildlife.
The east and west biotopes, which comprise mixed woodlands, streams, rice paddies, and wetlands, total 16,000 m² and are given central importance in Honda's effort to cultivate a diverse ecosystem at the Yorii Plant. Special care was also taken to ensure that plants and animals can move freely from these biotopes to other vegetated land and wetland on site, and farther to unmanaged areas beyond the plant. This continuous biological community forms a green corridor1 that extends as far as the Ogawa Plant about two kilometers away.
The area between the Yorii Plant and nearby Ogawa Plant forms a broad ecosystem that was preserved to keep wildlife populations from being separated. Restoration and conservation efforts are happening throughout this area.
Some of the rare animal and plant species living near Yorii Plant
Top: Rare animals - Tokyo salamander (Hynobius tokyoensis), Stone loach (Lefua echigonia), Japanese firefly (Luciola cruciata), Great purple emperor (Sasakia charonda)
Bottom: Rare plants - Hakuun-ran (Vexillabium nakaianum), Tokyo wood fern (Dryopteris tokyoensis), Hardy orchid (Bletilla striata), Japanese bugbane (Cimicifuga japonica)
Biotopes and other areas for conserving and creating new habitat for rare species were included in the plant construction plans. Biodiversity surveys and management will be conducted regularly even after the project is over.
The east biotope was publicized at a press conference in April 2013.
Reintroducing rare species
Tokyo salamander (left), Stone loach (right)
|Rare species were captured, bred, and reintroduced to the biotope under expert guidance. Sur veys later showed the species were establishing themselves and thriving.|
● Conserving rare animal species
During construction, Honda took utmost care to preserve habitat for rare species. From the habitats of the Tokyo salamander, stone loach, and Japanese firefly.three species that have difficulty relocating and were thought to be particularly vulnerable to the construction.that could not be saved, individuals were captured and bred indoors and then later reintroduced to the biotopes.
● Conserving rare plant species
Rare plant species, such as the Tokyo wood fern, Hardy orchid, and Japanese bugbane, were conserved via transplantation. The Hakuun-ran, a type of orchid that was on Saitama Prefecture's endangered species list at the time, was given special attention. The population was preserved by propagating it through artificial pollination and growing them in sterile culture media.
● Increase in rare species confirmed
As a result of these efforts, surveys confirmed that the number of rare animal and plant species on site has been increasing since before construction of the plant.
In a program developed by the Japan Business Initiative for Biodiversity and Tohoku University for measuring the success of eco-conscious land use projects and conservation initiatives2, the Yorii Plant scored an impressive 84 out of 100.
By continuing to support and expand conservation initiatives like these, Honda will strive to build relationships of symbiosis and mutual growth between the Yorii Plant and the surrounding communities.