Addressing the impacts of climate change
Five biosphere reserves in Europe will each benefit from 160,000 euros as part as the five-year project developed by UNESCO and Volkswagen to address the impacts of climate change by restoring biodiversity and ensuring the transition to electric mobility.
The global impacts of climate change will affect different regions in different ways, thus requiring different mitigation approaches. In Northern Europe, for example, conservation and restoration of peat bogs — that act as carbon sinks — could help remove a significant amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), as healthy and growing peatlands can store between 250 and 350 kg of carbon per hectare per year. Further south, in Spain, a shift towards electric mobility in biosphere reserves will lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the carbon footprint of visitors.
In recent years, UNESCO’s MAB Programme has support the World Network of Biosphere Reserves to implement actions to restore biodiversity by promoting a nature-based solutions approach that mitigates the impacts of climate change and enhances natural and social resilience.
In 2021, UNESCO and Volkswagen partnered to implement a five-year project entitled “Supporting European UNESCO biosphere reserves as model sites for biodiversity recovery and climate change mitigation”. Five biosphere reserves in Germany, Poland and Spain will put in place biodiversity restoration plans, further develop environmental education activities and transition towards electric mobility.
Restoring biodiversity in Germany and Poland
In Germany and Poland, activities will start with technical meetings to assess the different needs and the most relevant means to achieve the objectives.
Biosphere Reserve of Schaalsee, Germany
The Biosphere Reserve of Schaalsee is located between the urban centers of Hamburg, Lübeck and Schwerinhost, in Germany, and was formed by glaciers of the last Ice Age and here, we find one of the deepest lakes of the country. The UNESCO-Volkswagen project will restore 131 ha of the rain-fed peat bog Schönwolder Moor. The growth of birch trees on the raised bog areas will be limited, and the water supply will be improve by restricting the drainage of existing ditches.
Biosphere Reserve of Puszcza Kampinoska, Poland
In Poland, in the Biosphere Reserve of Puszcza Kampinoska, efforts will focus on reintroducing plant species — either those that are extinct or in danger of extinction — to improve water supply and drainage systems for the protection and restoration of wetlands.
Shifting to electric mobility in Spain
In Spain, activities will focus on sustainable mobility to reduce pollution and mitigate the impacts of climate change in the biospheres reserves of Bardenas Reales, Valles de Jubera, Leza, Cidacos y Alhama and Ordesa Viñamala. Volkswagen will assist the sites in their transition towards electric mobility.
Activities in Spain started on 14 April with a technical webinar: "Electric Mobility in Spanish Biosphere Reserves" supported by the Spanish government.
Even though there is no population living within the Bardenas Reales Biosphere Reserve, the inhabitants use their territory on a daily basis to develop sustainable activities. A feasibility study to install electric chargers within the territory will be the main action implemented within the project. Also, it is foreseen to replace at leats one official vehicule with one electric car.
A strategy to promote sustainable mobility in the territory of the the Leza, Jubera, Cidacos and Alhama Biosphere Reserve will be prepare. This plan will include the elaboration of promotional materials to raise awareness about sustainable mobility, and training workshops.
Four interpretative routes will be design, one of them will link the archaeological site of Contrebia Leucade with the paleontological site of Virgen del Prado, in the municipality of Aguilar de Río Alhama.
A study and analysis will be carried out for the installation of electric charger units for electric vehicles in the Ordesa-Viñamala Biosphere Reserve.
An environmental awareness and education plan for schools and the local population of the biosphere reserve on climate change, carbon footprint and the promotion of environmental conservation and its conservation will be implemented.
Man and the Biosphere programme
UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme is an intergovernmental scientific programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments. It combines the natural and social sciences with a view to improving human livelihoods and safeguarding natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable. It's World Network of Biosphere Reserves currently counts more than 710 sites in 129 countries.
The Volkswagen Group, with its headquarters in Wolfsburg, is one of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers and the largest carmaker in Europe. For all our products and mobility solutions we aspire to minimize environmental impacts along the entire lifecycle – from raw material extraction until end-of-life - in order to keep ecosystems intact and to create positive impacts on society.
We are committed to the 2° goal of the Paris Climate Agreement. We intend to become a CO2 neutral company by 2050. By 2025, we plan to reduce our total life cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions of passenger cars and light duty vehicles by 30% compared to 2015. We actively contribute to the transition towards renewable energies along the entire life cycle.