Braunschweig/Verden, 22 October 2020. Volkswagen Financial Services and the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) are expanding their successful cooperation in nature and climate protection over the next three years. As part of this partnership, the financial and mobility service provider of the Volkswagen Group is making EUR 450,000 available to Germany's largest nature conservation organization for the renaturation of the Aller in the District of Verden between Hülsen and where it flows into the Weser. The goal is to restore the river's stream bed and floodplain to a more natural state, on the one hand to improve the biodiversity but also to enhance flood protection. "We are firmly resolved to continue pursuing active environmental protection in the future. We have already demonstrated how well this can be done for over ten years in the field of moorland conservation," says Jens Legenbauer, Chairman of the Management Board of Volkswagen Leasing GmbH and Regional Manager Germany at Volkswagen Financial Services. He adds: "We would now like to channel our commitment into a further important area, namely the renaturation of watercourses." This is already the second river renaturation project for the Braunschweig-based financial services provider. Since 2019, the river Schunter is being transformed back into near-natural flow and habitat conditions in the Braunschweig area with the help of funds from the company.
"Our rivers and streams are the lifelines of our landscape. What the loss of near-natural river courses and wetlands has to do with floods can be seen in regular flood disasters. And this trend will be further intensified by extreme weather events and the increasing periods of drought," says Leif Miller, NABU's Managing Director. He also notes: "We are very pleased to have a strong partner like Volkswagen Financial Services at our side to help us finance the implementation of these projects."
The NABU Federal Association has been working with local project partners since 2014 on plans to help the section of the Aller flowing in Lower Saxony take a more natural course through the landscape. The actual implementation has now become possible through the commitment of Volkswagen Financial Services, since NABU can now make the independent contribution of its own to the project that is necessary to apply for the total project volume, which amounts to around EUR 17 million, from the federal program "Blue Ribbon Germany" (Blaues Band Deutschland). The project area covers about 2,350 hectares along around 30 kilometers of river. The cooperation partners are the District of Verden, the Weser Waterways and Shipping Office (WSA) and the Federal State of Lower Saxony.
"Environmental and climate protection is a community task. It is a matter of bringing as many actors as possible around a table together and making it clear how many added benefits an intact river landscape offers. Particularly here along the Aller, a lot of measures are necessary as the result of its long-standing use as a waterway," says Dr. Rocco Buchta, Head of NABU's Institute of River and Floodplain Ecology and the project manager at NABU for the Aller renaturation. The focus of the project lies on measures to de-seal the river banks, re-naturalize the river groynes, and develop near-natural riparian areas.
The statistics show how important it is to actively protect watercourses: a good 75 percent of the river floodplains are cut off from natural flood events by human intervention. The rivers have been straightened, dammed, and artificially separated from their water meadows by dikes. As a result, most of the natural habitats and ecological niches for the typical species of fish, birds, insects and plants have been lost. A further burden on this environment is the excessive input of nutrients and pollutants. At the present time, only three percent of the around 7,300 river kilometers of the German waterway network achieve the "good ecological status" required by law.
Volkswagen Financial Services and NABU have been working together for more than ten years in a partnership of project collaboration and dialog. Up to now, their efforts have focused on national and international moorland conservation because of the high relevance moors have for climate protection in particular. At the same time, the two cooperation partners are also giving high priority to advancing environmentally friendly fleet management – most recently through their Blue Fleet electromobility initiative (https://blaueflotte.vwfs.de).
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Volkswagen Financial Services are a business division of the Volkswagen AG group of companies and comprise Volkswagen Financial Services AG along with its associated companies, Volkswagen Bank GmbH, Porsche Financial Services, and the financial services companies in the USA and Canada that belong directly or indirectly to Volkswagen AG – with the exception of the financial services of the Scania brand and Porsche Holding Salzburg. The key business fields embrace dealer and customer financing, leasing, the bank and insurance business, fleet management and mobility offers. Volkswagen Financial Services have a total of 16,571 employees worldwide – including 7,414 alone in Germany. Volkswagen Financial Services report total assets of around EUR 223.5 billion, an operating result of EUR 2.96 billion and a portfolio of around 21.5 million current contracts (as at: 31.12.2019).
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