Monsanto Company (No. 43 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) announced that it has reached key milestones in protecting species and promoting sustainable landscapes, two major components of its biodiversity strategy.
Companies have a responsibility to protect and preserve biodiversity. Not only is it necessary to sustain life, provide habitat for wildlife, address climate change and protect waterways, biodiversity is also critical to agriculture and the ability to discover and develop new products for farmers.
In fiscal year 2016, Monsanto established 72 habitats at company sites across the U.S. for monarch butterflies and other pollinators. The company also doubled the number of its sites certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council(WHC), going from 15 to 31 over the last year. As part of WHC's Conservation Certification program, these certifications are built on the best practices of global recognition programs that implement meaningful wildlife habitat management and conservation education programs.
"Our commitment to establishing pollinator and wildlife habitats is an important part of our advocacy for protecting species and promoting sustainable landscapes, which are at the heart of our biodiversity strategy," said Pam Strifler, Monsanto Vice President, Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement. "This great accomplishment wouldn't have been possible without the dedication of our employees and collaborators. In addition to the work we're doing on our own grounds, we're providing funding support for far-reaching initiatives that address monarch habitat, honey bee health, reforestation and seed collection and preservation efforts."
As the primary corporate funder of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's (NFWF) Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund, Monsanto pledged $3.6 million over three years, to provide habitat restoration, education and outreach, and milkweed seed and plant production. Through thispartnership with NFWF and five federal agencies, in 2015 and 2016 the fund supported 47 projects and leveraged $2.4 million from Monsanto with $5.7 million from other partners and over $12.2 million provided as a match by the organizations receiving the grants for a total conservation impact of more than $20.3 million. This is in addition to nearly $800,000 in Monsanto funding since 2014 to other organizations with similar goals. The expected impact of the 2016 NFWF-funded projects, exclusive of funds not yet distributed, included:
- 16,000 acres of habitat created
- 600 pounds of native plant seeds produced
- 453,000 milkweed* seedlings planted
- 200,000 milkweed plants made available free of charge
- 176,000 persons reached
Monsanto also works closely with Pheasants Forever, which helped the company develop many of the pollinator habitats at its sites. "Working with Monsanto to establish spaces where monarchs and pollinators can flourish is consistent with our mission to conserve pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs," said Pete Berthelsen, Director of Habitat Partnerships, Pheasants Forever. "Upland birds such as these thrive in the same types of habitats as monarchs. That's why we were excited to receive funding to apply our expertise and help create habitats at many of Monsanto's manufacturing sites and other facilities."
Many of the habitats are along the monarch's North American migration route. Each year, millions of the iconic butterflies travel from the U.S. and Canada to overwinter in Mexico. Monsanto, U.S. agriculture, and conservation leaders made the journey to the monarch's overwintering site earlier this year to raise awareness of its struggle to survive and the need to work together to preserve this delicate species.
Promoting biodiversity is just one way that our commitment to sustainability supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal s. More information on the company's advocacy for biodiversity and its overall commitment to sustainability can be found in the Monsanto 2016 Sustainability Report, Growing Better Together .
* Milkweed is the primary habitat for monarch butterflies and the only source of food for their caterpillars.