Press Release

January 13, 2022

Environmental commitment of Volkswagen Financial Services is having an impact: River Aller renaturation in the District of Verden can start

Official notification of EUR 5.1 million of government funding presented to project sponsors NABU and the District of Verden

River renaturation is a further focus of environmental commitment efforts in addition to moorland protection activities

Braunschweig/Verden, 13 January 2022. The commitment of Volkswagen Financial Services to the renaturation of watercourses is paying off. In 2020, the Volkswagen Group's financial and mobility services provider made a donation of EUR 450,000 to NABU, the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, to further the renaturation of the River Aller. A first milestone in this project has now been reached. The Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and Lower Saxony's State Ministry for the Environment handed over the official funding notification covering EUR 5.1 million from the federal program "Blue Belt Germany" (Blaues Band Deutschland) to the project organizers NABU and the District of Verden administration. As a result, the project can now get underway. "We are very pleased indeed that our financial support is having an effect and that this means a specific and tangible environmental protection project can once again be implemented in Lower Saxony," said Lars Henner Santelmann, Chairman of the Management Board of Volkswagen Financial Services AG. He continued: "In addition to moorland protection, the renaturation of rivers is of particular importance to us because restored waterways make an important contribution to flood control and to conserving biodiversity."

NABU's Managing Director Leif Miller added: "Here too, it is apparent once again that the longstanding collaboration based on partnership that exists between the business enterprise Volkswagen Financial Services and us in our capacity as an environmental protection organization can achieve many positive results. Without such generous donations, we would be very limited in our ability to implement large-scale projects like the one here along the Aller, since we cannot raise the necessary funds on our side, or can only do so with a great amount of effort."

The Federal Association of NABU 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. NABU is contributing its many years of experience from the restoration of the lower Havel river valley – Europe's largest river renaturation project. This undertaking was also supported by the Volkswagen Group. The Aller 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.

Within the framework of the project, near-natural structures are being created in the Aller bottomland, the low-lying land along the watercourse, in the District of Verden. Among other aspects, river channels, small water bodies and oxbow lakes are being reconnected and dikes are being moved back. In addition, the project involves the development of floodplain biotopes to enhance riparian and wetland habitats.

The project is being funded by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation with financing from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment until the end of 2025 to the amount of EUR 4.2 million. A total budget of EUR 16.86 million is planned until the end of 2031. In addition to the federal funds from the "Blue Belt Germany" floodplain restoration program "Förderprogramm Auen", the Lower Saxony state government is also contributing EUR 900,000 to re-naturalize the Aller river meadows in the District of Verden.

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. The financial commitment of Volkswagen Financial Services to moorland protection has amounted to more than six million euros since 2008. To date, the money has been used to re-naturalize a total of 13 moors in Germany and areas in the Baltic region.

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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 16,558 employees worldwide – including 7,472 alone in Germany. Volkswagen Financial Services report total assets of around EUR 225.6 billion, an operating result of EUR 2.8 billion and a portfolio of around 21.9 million current contracts (as at: 31.12.2020).

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