Daimler's production plants around the world cover a total area of around 5,200 hectares. This is the size of about 7,300 soccer pitches. Sixty five percent of this area is sealed by buildings and roads. As a limited public resource, floor space is used as efficiently as possible, for example by building densely with several floors. Outdoor areas within our plants are also designed to serve as a habitat for indigenous plants and animals. In this way, the company facilitates biodiversity even amidst the industrial architecture.
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity means variety within and between species as well as ecosystems. Daimler considers it a part of its corporate responsibility to operate in a way that conserves resources as much as possible in order to preserve the diversity of natural habitats for future generations while creating new ones. In this framework, the company has already instituted a number of measures in its plants aimed at preserving the ecological balance and will continue to do so in the future.
Daimler has created a biodiversity index (referred to as a biodiversity indicator) in order to assess and systematically develop the ecological quality of its existing areas. The viability of the biodiversity indicator has already been tested in several plants. In the future, this indicator will enable setting targets for the plant-specific environmental protection programs and clear evaluation of the progress that has been made.
A large number of measures aimed at aligning the company's premises as closely as possible with nature have already been implemented at various plants, such as the development of sustainable greenfield concepts where the focus is on planning and renaturing undeveloped areas in cooperation with nature conservation organizations and the urban development authorities. This has resulted in the creation of spring flower lawns, areas edged by wild flowers in wild-flower meadows, and semi-shaded flower gardens. These measures are especially beneficial for wild bees.
Dry stone walls, wild bush hedgerows and stone gardens have also been created in certain plants. This enhances the availability of food for insects and plays an important role in preserving the diversity of species.
Various measures aimed at protecting certain bird species, some of which are endangered, have been instituted in partnership with bird protection centers.
An analysis of birds' breeding and nesting places can be used to derive the appropriate conservation measures in order to preserve and create habitats. This includes setting up species-specific nesting boxes (including for bats) and bird houses (including houses for multiple swallow pairs) as well as ringing peregrine falcons. Trainees, employees and neighbors are closely involved in the individual projects, for example by building and setting up wild bee hotels.
The implementation of measures aimed at aligning the planning of plant grounds with nature preserves and creates valuable habitats for plants and animals. Over 30 peregrine falcon chicks have hatched in the Mercedes-Benz plant Sindelfingen.
Combining nature and technology: Extensive measures to protect nature and the environment at the location in Immendingen
Protecting nature and the environment was a key consideration during the planning, approval, and construction of the testing and technology center in Immendingen, which covers an area of more than 500 hectares. In order to protect local animals and plants more effectively, Daimler conducted in-depth discussions with local people as well as nature and environmental conservation organizations. It thus was able to incorporate recommendations from the community and constructive requests from the organizations into its planning.
On the basis of an overall map of wild animal trails, the planners created a passage for wild animals that includes an underpass, a bridge, and a 33-hectare protected area. This divides the entire site into two halves and enables wild animals to pass through it. In the construction phase, compliance with the environmental regulations and the professional implementation of the compensatory measures were monitored by the “ecological supervision” team. In order to protect rare species including sand and viviparous lizards, blindworms, smooth snakes, and dormice, the animals were captured before the construction work began and brought to substitute habitats. In addition, tree frogs had migrated into the area during the construction work and were discovered in small ponds and the puddles that had formed in tire tracks. Because this is a strictly protected species, the tree frogs were resettled in a suitable substitute habitat in order to safeguard this community.
Various reforestation measures were carried out in the region in order to compensate for the loss of wooded areas. In parallel, the forest was extensively restructured. Beech trees and silver firs were planted to replace spruce trees in a future-oriented measure to prepare the forest for climate change. Still other measures to protect forest-dwelling species included the nurturing of many endangered species of plants and animals. In addition, certain parts of the site were officially identified as protected areas where the forest can develop without human interference. An extensive restoration of grazing land is also being carried out on certain compensatory areas outside the site. Robust Skudde and mouflon sheep are being released here in order to conserve the landscape.
Compliance with the compensatory measures imposed by the approval agreement will be strictly supervised by means of a monitoring concept for ten years in open spaces and twenty-five years in the forest areas. If the targets are not reached, further improvements will be required. Extensive interventions in the natural environment were necessary in order to construct the testing and technology center, but most of the natural environment on the site has been preserved. The compensatory measures for the interventions on the site cover an area that is more than two and a half times as large as the area actually used.
Wild life conservation at Mercedes-Benz plant Gaggenau
The first organically certified industrial biotope in Germany is located on the grounds of the Mercedes-Benz plant in Gaggenau. In the Rastatt section of the plant it has now been possible to design an unused part of the grounds in an ecologically friendly manner, thus offering a new home for many endangered species. For example for the king fisher and the wood bee, which are animals from the 111-endangered-species basket of the State Government of Baden-Württemberg. Through mapping it was established that 65 wild bee species are living on the 1,530 square- kilometer area. Their forage plants are also present in the newly designed area, along with nesting places for wild bees that were built by Mercedes-Benz employees. The grassland, stone bars, deadwood tree trunks of the main grounds blend in well with wildflower borders created from different wild plants. A total of 2,700 local wild shrubs are blooming in the mineral-rich soil of sand, crushed stone and gravel. They provide blossoms, seeds, hiding places, winter quarters and reproduction possibilities for the fauna.
A great honor: In July 2018 the project was being honored as a UN Decade Project already for the third time.