How Formosa Plastics Is Nurturing Biodiversity in Texas

In 2020, the team at the Formosa Agricultural and Environmental Research Center, located at the site of the company’s Texas plant, began concurrent production of honeybees, native flowering plants and native trees as part of an effort to enrich the area’s biodiversity.

At Formosa Plastics Corporation USA, environmental
responsibility is a core guiding principle. As a vertically integrated supplier
of plastic resins and petrochemicals, the company owns and manages extensive
land holdings near the Formosa Plastics Corp. Texas plant site in Point
Comfort, Texas
. Among these holdings are the Formosa Agricultural and
Environmental Research Center
(AERC) and the 200-acre Formosa-Tejano
, both of which were established in the 1990s.

Monarch and milkweed

The AERC was the vision of Formosa founder Y.C. Wang and has conducted
research to explore strategies for environmentally friendly agriculture. Over
the last six years, that focus has evolved in response to changes in the
environment and Formosa Plastics’ growing involvement in sustainable land use.

“It started in 2015 when the AERC entered into a partnership with the US Fish
and Wildlife Service
(USFWS) to grow milkweed plants that could attract
monarch butterflies and help restore the species’ declining numbers,” said
Curtis Short, lead scientist at the AERC. “Milkweed is the only plant
monarch butterflies consume; and our initial goal was to produce enough plants
to provide food plots on Formosa properties, as well as providing plants to the
USFWS for distribution to other organizations. This original project became the
catalyst for a completely different operational strategy at the AERC. We quickly moved from basic soil science research and into applied land resource

To date, the AERC has produced upwards of 3,200 plants, many of which have been
donated to other environmental organizations in south Texas.

Bees and trees

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As one square in the environmental sustainability matrix, Formosa Plastics
developed a long-term sustainability goal which was a perfect fit for the AERC:
“Reforestation applications to provide wildlife [and] pollinator habitat and
increase rainfall interception while capturing carbon…”.

In 2020, the AERC team began investigating strategies for concurrent production
of honeybees (pollinators), native flowering plants (nectar sources) and native
trees (carbon sequestration and improved rainfall interception).

The team began beehive construction and identified a site for placement of the
hives such that nectar plants could be established on the site periphery.
Coincidentally, Formosa Plastics staff were approached with a proposal from a
local Agriculture Sciences teacher about the possibility of partnering with the
company in a honeybee propagation project at the AERC.

“We jumped at the opportunity to partner with the school district in setting up
apiaries.” Short said. “Although our primary goal remains that of creating more
pollinator activity here, the opportunity to support and facilitate
environmental education is a nice bonus.”

Local pollinators, as well, seem to be excited about Formosa Plastics’
environmental initiatives. In mid-June, Short discovered a hulking swarm of bees
busily establishing residence in one of the hives, apparently having decided to
make the Formosa Plastics AERC its new home.

It sure looks like things are starting to hum around here.

Read more about Formosa’s biodiversity efforts here.

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