Birds, Frogs and Turtles Call General Motors’ Wetlands Home

Feb 2, 2017 4:15 PM ET

Wetlands rank right up there with rain forests and coral reefs when it comes to the world’s most productive ecosystems. In recognition of World Wetlands Day, several General Motors sites featuring or supporting wetlands share how they are working to increase biodiversity.

General Motors takes special consideration to preserve the lands it occupies, maintaining 63 certified wildlife habitat programs and 5,000 acres of habitat. Wetland areas at some of GM’s facilities provide a home for native plant and animal species, while helping prevent surrounding areas from flooding.

Here are some of the wetlands GM manages:

  1. Vauxhall Ellesmere Port, England: This GM site is home to three natural freshwater wetlands in a wooded area. Originally created in 1962 as a reservoir to put out fires, the area has been left undisturbed since the mid-1970s for native vegetation to grow naturally. Around that time, a tree was planted for every employee working at the site, which created Hooton Woods on the grounds. With an increase in wildlife in the area, this restored ecosystem adds food, water, cover and space for local species.
  2. Woodstock Customer Care and Aftersales, Canada: Trees and grasses surround this wetland. Employees of the facility maintain it and have installed nesting boxes for nearby wildlife to rest, lay eggs and raise fledglings.
  3. Saginaw Metal Casting Operations, Michigan: This wetland features a small stream system designed as a demonstration project that filters 300 to 3,000 gallons of water per day of sanitary wastewater from this site’s nearby office buildings. A bog serves as an initial treatment area followed by an aerated stream. Amphibians take advantage of the islands. There’s also an artificial waterfall and small pond whose fish and insects help cut algae growth and vegetation. The team built a bridge and boardwalk using sustainable wood to enhance the site’s watershed education activities. The system is effective in treating the wastewater while providing habitat.
  4. Customer Care and Aftersales Headquarters, Michigan: With 7.5 acres designated for wetlands, this site features three ponds and is working to create and restore more habitats. The area is home to six turtle rafts and three wood duck boxes.
  5. Lansing Delta Township Assembly, Michigan: Located on the Mississippi Flyway, a migration path used by about 40 percent of North America’s ducks, this site’s wetlands provide essential habitat for waterfowl to find shelter, food, and nesting. The team installed floating nest platforms and partially submerged logs and boulder mounds. Wood duck houses made of scrap Chevrolet Volt battery covers, tree swallow nest boxes, mallard nest tubes and bat houses also are on the grounds. GM donated additional Volt nesting boxes to other organizations to encourage habitat conservation beyond its assembly plant.  
  6. Spring Hill Manufacturing, Tennessee: The Spring Hill team supports surrounding areas’ habitats, as well. They recently built and donated an observation platform overlooking a 65-acre wetland at Henry Horton State Park. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation began work restoring the wetlands more than a year ago. The department viewed the platform as the capstone of the project, giving visitors a new trail and vantage point to observe wildlife.
  7. Ramos Arizpe, Mexico: The Ramos Arizpe Complex is located in the state of Coahuila, a northern, semi-arid area of Mexico with little standing water, a big problem for the region’s ducks, bats and other animals. The facility has a 3-acre artificial lagoon that provides habitat for migrating and local birds. What makes the project unique is its use of wastewater from the plant. After undergoing a refiltration process, the treated water is channeled into the lagoon to benefit the waterfowl.

Companies can play a role in advancing sustainability ecosystems. Through habitat restoration and preservation efforts, GM seeks to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal to halt biodiversity loss. As part of that commitment, the company collaborates with employees and community members on how they too can have an impact on their local ecosystems.