Nature on the agenda for Toyota job

Key features of headquarters project include biodiversity and 'operating in harmony with nature'.

ECO-HQ: Toyota headquarters
ECO-HQ: Toyota headquarters

A commitment to biodiversity and "operating in harmony with nature" have become the key features in a reworking of the landscape at a corporate headquarters.

PC Landscapes started work on phase two of the "ECO-HQ" project at Toyota (GB) in Epsom, Surrey, last week. The company, located in nearby Farnham, is creating a wildlife pond and herb garden, planting extra trees and creating a series of "marginal areas" to increase biodiversity. The scheme also features a series of areas for staff to walk through and sit in during breaks.

Woodland areas surrounding the perimeter of the site, untouched for more than a decade, will be opened up with coppicing work, allowing sunlight through the canopy and helping woodland plants and animals.

Landscape architect on the project Land Care Associates is working with experts from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew UK Native Seed Hub and the Surrey Wildlife Trust.

Kew is advising on choosing plant species from the surrounding countryside and establishing them on site as well as on maintenance, with the long-term plan to blur the boundaries between the surrounding landscape and the Toyota site.

The project comes out of a commitment made by the global car manufacturer in 2012 to be known as an environmental leader through four objectives: hybrid products, environmental compliance, reducing the use of natural resources and operating in harmony with nature.

PC Landscapes' Paul Cowell said he was really pleased to be appointed because of his interest in creating wildlife-friendly landscapes. "We don't normally go for commercial projects - it was purely the biodiversity angle. It's a very interesting project and not normally what you get," he explained.

"There are a lot of large corporations and their corporate social responsibility is high up in their PR but in reality they're not that interested. Here there is a genuine collaboration of landscape professionals. If that mood can change in a corporate environment that's really positive for the industry."

Toyota (GB) lead on corporate social responsibility and environmental affairs Rebecca King said the firm is "very pleased to have appointed PC Landscapes, which demonstrated a high-level of interest and passion in our biodiversity project. It is very much a collaborative project and we welcome the contribution that PC Landscapes has made, and will continue making, throughout the installation."

The work is expected to take three months. The team will return for the next planting season to add more planting around the ponds.

Kingston Garden Services worked on phase one in 2014, adding formal yew hedges with wild flower meadows, a small woodland area and a new orchard using historic fruit tree varieties found in the South East.

Inside track

"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."

Tony Walker, deputy managing director, Toyota GB


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