Press Release

27th September 2023

River Aller renaturation: First sub-project completed with support
from Volkswagen Financial Services (VW FS)

Successful reconnection of the Old Aller to the main river

NABU contribution of EUR 450,000 provided by VW FS

River restoration as second pillar of VW FS's environmental commitment alongside moorland protection

Braunschweig/Verden, 26 September 2023. The commitment of Volkswagen Financial Services to restoring watercourses to a near-natural state is yielding results. As part of the "AllerVielfalt" project, the Old Aller (Alte Aller), an old branch of the River Aller, in the District of Verden has now been reconnected to the main river. Initiated by the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), the project is part of the federal government program "Germany's Blue Belt" ("Blaues Band Deutschland") and aims to create near-natural structures in a project area of 2,350 hectares (around 30 river kilometers). The funding volume for the Aller project amounts to EUR 16.8 million until 2031. Volkswagen Financial Services donated EUR 450,000 to cover NABU's share, thereby ensuring the important start-up financing for the project.

"We are delighted that our support has made it possible to implement another specific nature conservation project in Lower Saxony. The severe weather and weather extremes experienced in recent months once again underline the importance of natural and near-natural river courses for flood protection. In addition to our commitment to moorland protection, we will therefore continue to support river renaturation in the future and thus promote biodiversity," said Dr. Christian Dahlheim, Chairman of the Management Board of Volkswagen Financial Services AG.

NABU's Managing Director Leif Miller added: "The Aller project once again demonstrates the positive impact that the close and longstanding collaboration between us in our capacity as an environmental conservation organization and the business enterprise Volkswagen Financial Services can have. Without such generous support, we would only be able to implement large-scale projects like this to a limited extent and with significantly longer timelines."

The Federal Association of NABU has been working with local project partners since 2014 to restore the River Aller in Lower Saxony to a more natural state as it flows through the landscape. The cooperation partners involved are the District of Verden, the Weser Waterways and Shipping Office (WSA), and the Federal State of Lower Saxony. NABU is contributing its many years of experience from the restoration of the lower Havel river valley, Europe's largest river renaturation project, to the venture. The implementation of this undertaking was also supported by the Volkswagen Group.

Within the project, near-natural structures are being created in the Aller lowlands along the watercourse in the District of Verden. This includes the reconnection of flood channels, small bodies of water, and old river branches such as the Old Aller, as well as the relocation of dikes. In addition, the project involves the development of floodplain biotopes to enhance the riverbank ecosystems and wetland habitats.

The Old Aller near Verden is now the only remaining old river arm along the Aller in the Verden district. With its willow-lined, unspoilt banks, it bears witness to the river's former natural appearance. However, over 200 years ago, it was disconnected from the main stream in the interests of shipping navigation. Due to its weak current, the Old Aller is an ideal spawning ground for a variety of fish species and also provides a habitat for many endangered plant species. Reconnecting it to the main channel of the Aller ensures better flow, since water can now move naturally from the main arm to the tributary during high water levels.

Volkswagen Financial Services and NABU have been working together for around 15 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 has amounted to more than seven million euros since 2008. So far, the funding has supported the renaturation of a total of 13 moors in Germany and additional areas in Europe.

More information on moorland protection can be found at: 

Course of the river Aller near Verden. Source: Arne von Bill.

Information for editors:

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 service business of the Scania brand and of Porsche Holding Salzburg. The key business fields embrace dealer and customer financing, leasing, bank and insurance activities, fleet management and mobility services. Volkswagen Financial Services have a total of 17,713 employees worldwide – including 7,692 alone in Germany. Volkswagen Financial Services report total assets of around EUR 240 billion, an operating profit of EUR 5.60 billion, and a portfolio of around 22.0 million current contracts (as at: 31.12.2022).

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