Japan Tobacco International Switzerland donated a ‘wild bee paradise’ to the municipality of Dagmersellen, the headquarters of JTI Switzerland, to mark the site’s 50th anniversary in 2021. The wild bee paradise is a 200 square metre biotope that not only serves wild bees and other animals, but also as a recreational area for the people of Dagmersellen. The entire population should benefit from the project to promote local biodiversity.

“JTI Switzerland is the fastest growing tobacco company in Switzerland. For this very reason it is important for us to fulfil our responsibility towards society and the environment. With this project, we can make a contribution to the promotion of biodiversity virtually on our doorstep.”

Andy Reay, General Manager JTI Switzerland, at the opening of the biotope

But what about the impact of tobacco production on biodiversity further afield? The intensive use of pesticides in tobacco cultivation is a problem in countries in the Global South. Highly toxic chemicals, some of which have long been banned in the EU, are used against pests, weeds and fungal infestations of tobacco, poisoning the soil, water and air and having a correspondingly damaging effect on biodiversity. They are also toxic to humans, some of them carcinogenic.

By promoting a wild bee garden and the corresponding positive reporting, JTI Switzerland manages to divert attention from the actual biodiversity problems of the tobacco industry. At the same time, JTI is maintaining its positive, green and responsible image in the region.

The inauguration was also used as an opportunity to cultivate contacts with local politicians and to express bonds: the manager of JTI Switzerland and the mayor of Dagmersellen cut the ribbon together at the inauguration. The mayor expressed his delight at the gift from the region’s major employer and “good taxpayer”, as well as the continued support for social projects[1].