Brussels, Belgium,

Toyota encourages students in 10 European countries to explore and investigate their natural environment to help biodiversity

When you work at Toyota anywhere in the world, one of the things you learn is to not take things for granted but go to where things are happening and study the situation with your own eyes. We call it "genchi genbutsu" in Japanese — meaning "actual place, actual thing".

"Observe the production floor without preconceptions and with a blank mind. Repeat "why" five times to every matter."Taiichi Ohno, father of the Toyota Production System

With a new initiative being rolled out in 10 European countries this month, Toyota is encouraging school children to do just that, following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and his legendary curiosity about the world around him.

"Throughout his life Darwin wanted passionately to understand or explain what he saw. He really noticed things and thought about them. He never stopped asking questions. Darwin also developed methodology to record information and investigate mysteries so he could find answers. Most importantly he recorded details about an enormous number of different things he saw in many different places, followed the evidence and was brave enough to come up with ideas that seemed logical — even if they were almost unthinkable." — From The Great Plant Hunt, Darwin Story Book.

This project is an initiative of Toyota Motor Europe, the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to support biodiversity education in schools throughout Europe. The initiative builds on the Wellcome Trust funded project "The Great Plant Hunt" co-ordinated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, KEW - which runs in the UK and India. The campaign aims to educate students about biodiversity and its importance and encourages them to take positive action. It focuses on biodiversity with a particular emphasis on plants and their associated species.

The initiative, which is launching in November, will be rolled out in 10 European countries: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey.

Schools, within these 10 countries, which are part of the FEE network, can join. To find out more, schools can contact their Eco-Schools National Operator.

Toyota will fund the translation of the materials and FEE will make them available for schools in their language. The target audience of the campaign in 2015 is young children, aged between 5 - 7 years.

Through the initiative, Toyota hopes to encourage young people to become advocates for conservation and promotion of local biodiversity activities.

Steve Hope, General Manager Environmental Affairs & Corporate Citizenship: "At global level, promoting biodiversity is one of Toyota's top priorities in our efforts to enrich the lives of communities. This initiative is a significant step in our upcoming 6th 5-Year Environmental Action Plan helping to promote awareness on environment in general and biodiversity specifically. We are pleased to build upon the relationship established in the last years with the Foundation for Environmental Education and the Royal Botanic Gardens, KEW. With this project we are bringing together expertise from both organisations to ensure a scientific approach and wide dissemination network amongst school students."

Julia Willison, Head of Content and Learning, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew: "Kew is delighted that Toyota Europe and the Foundation for Environmental Education is increasing the reach of The Great Plant Hunt, helping to stimulate from an early age an awareness of native biodiversity and an interest in plant science".

The Foundation for Environmental Education is a non-governmental, non-profit charity aimed at promoting sustainable development through environmental education. A global presence, more than 80 countries around the world are engaged in working with various FEE programmes. The organisation is recognised by UNESCO as a world-leader within the fields of Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Kew's mission is to be the global resource for plant and fungal knowledge and the world's leading botanic garden. The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health by supporting bright minds in science, the humanities and social sciences and public engagement.

'The Great Plant Hunt' was commissioned and funded by The Wellcome Trust to mark the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. The Great Plant Hunt materials were developed and created by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Toyota Motor Europe established the Toyota Fund for Europe to collaborate with non-profit organisations on community activities that support the environment, technical education and road safety. The projects supported by the Toyota Fund for Europe aim at raising awareness and creating positive change.

To find out more about the initiative and apply, please visit: