Monsanto strives to be a leader in respecting the land and conserving our planet’s natural resources for many years. Our efforts to maintain sustainable, bio-diverse ecosystems at various company sites continue to improve around the globe.
Monsanto’s Sensitive Habitat Preservation Program
Monsanto has been recognized by the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) for its exceptional commitment to protecting the environment. The WHC is an independent, nonprofit organization made up of businesses, conservation organizations and individuals dedicated to protecting and enhancing wildlife habitat around the world. The WHC has recognized the efforts of fifteen Monsanto-operated global sites by awarding them with its Wildlife at Work and Corporate Lands for Learning (CLL ) (for six of the fifteen sites) certifications.
Wildlife at Work
This program is focused on voluntary efforts which exceed regulatory requirements. Emphasis is put on community involvement in habitat projects by collaborating with local schools and organizations. As of 2011, Monsanto’s site in Muscatine, Iowa, and Monsanto’s foundation seed site in Cachoeira Dourada, Brazil, are most widely recognized for their exceptional efforts in habitat preservation. Here are some of the reasons why:
• Big Sand Mound Nature Preserve; Muscatine, Iowa
This nature preserve consists of 510 acres of unique sand prairie ecosystem that is home to several rare and threatened species located along the Mississippi River near Muscatine, Iowa. An ecological advisory committee oversees the long-term management of the preserve. The main goals are to conserve and enhance existing ecological communities, manage endangered species, protect archaeological features and accommodate research.
The Muscatine advisory committee also focuses on research, education and providing controlled access to the public. In November 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA ) and the Wildlife Habitat Council recognized the Muscatine plant with a joint special commendation for outstanding achievements in environmental management and wildlife habitat restoration. In 2008, the preserve was named a Signature of Sustainability Site by the Wildlife Habitat Council for demonstrating the potential of voluntary private sector involvement for biodiversity conservation.
• Foundation Seed; Cachoeira Dourada, Minas Gerais (MG), Brazil Situated along the Rio Paraíba, this 1,255 acre (507.8 hectares) foundation seed site contains approximately 439 acres (177.6 hectares) dedicated to habitat preservation. Monkeys, anteaters, and agoutis are just a few of the wildlife species that benefit from the site’s forested habitat. Since 2007, the wildlife team has worked with volunteers to plant over 14,000 trees on-site. An additional 1,100 trees, with conservation-themed brochures attached, have been distributed to the public along local ighways as part of Arbor Day events.
The wildlife team places great emphasis on raising environmental awareness among employees, as well as members of the nearby communities of Cachoeira Dourada and Capinópolis. The annual PróVerde program includes wildlife and conservation lectures, drawing competitions, release of hatchery fingerlings, and extensive river clean-up.
For Arbor Day 2009, Monsanto employees handed 250 native seedlings to community members. For Environment Week in June each year, employees hand out 150 to 300 seedlings to community members and participate in a trash clean-up event along the roads. Employees also participate in the cleaning of the Paranaiba River Banks and an annual fish release. In 2011, the total number of fish released into the Paranaiba River was 10,000.
Other habitat enhancement projects include a pollinator garden, where hummingbirds were observed within the first year. Three rock piles and one brush pile were created in a non-vegetated area to supply cover for reptiles, amphibians and small animals. In the future, the wildlife team would like to add more diversity to the native fish species raised in the hatchery.
Monsanto’s effort in improving life of local communities is evident in the work of the Education Advisory Committee (EAC) in Cachoeira Dourada. The EAC works closely with local schools to enhance the environmental and conservation knowledge of the students in their community. The Committee also involves adults in many of the annual clean-up events to support a healthy environment. For example, in 2009, 52 elementary students from Colégio Sérgio de Freitas Pacheco visited the site. They were taught about reforestation, native species, and wildlife management. About 250 students from Escola Municipal Branca de Neve Elementary School and over 340 students from Escola Municipal Higino Guerra planted 20 trees at each of their schools, with help from the EAC and Monsanto. Students also learned about watering trees, and choosing the correct location for a seedling. Other topics included general environmental awareness and recycling.
This article was excerpted from Monsanto’s 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report. The full report is available on Monsanto.com.