Amazon Greening German Cities, Volkswagen Reforesting Australia

Jul 9, 2020 by


July 9th, 2020 by 

The global economy — our increasingly integrated global society — is an interesting phenomenon. We have gotten quite used to it, but some matters bring its importance to the fore again. The coronavirus pandemic is one such example, but so are some positive efforts by major corporations to help green cities and countries where they operate.

Amazon, based in the United States, recently committed to greening German cities — as in, planting a lot of trees and bushes there. Now, Volkswagen, based in Germany, is reforesting Australia. Passing it along, you might say? (We may ask now, what is Atlassian doing for the United States to green it?)

Amazon Greening German Cities

Photo by Jesper Berggreen, CleanTechnica

German cities are already fairly green, but every city can be greener. There are countless opportunities for adding greenery to giant urban metro areas. In this case, Amazon is partnering (read: helping to fund) one of the top organizations in the world for greening things up: The Nature Conservancy.

The Nature Conservancy has apparently been working with cities “to develop nature-based solutions that enhance biodiversity and climate adaptation,” with a particular focus on 3 German cities — Berlin (the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district) and two yet to be determined cities.

You may have seen that Amazon has committed $2 billion to help protect the world we all rely on for life, a commitment it calls The Climate Pledge. As part of that, this is the company’s first investment outside of the United States from its $100 million Right Now Carbon Fund.

Cooling, & Species Supporting

The €3.5 million investment in urban greening isn’t just to help stop global heating. It’s also to help respond to it. The concrete jungle absorbs heat and then gives it to us humans — quite against our wishes in the summer time or in hot climates in general. Greenery cools our cities.

The program should help in other ways, too. You may have noticed that animals like plants. Indeed, they do. The urban greening program intends to help protect and improve biodiversity by adding more plants to cities. Also, plants themselves are worth preserving. Not being an expert in this field, I can’t say I fully understand what species would benefit from more greenery in broadly dangerous urban settings, but I trust The Nature Conservancy knows what it’s doing.

City Involvement, Science Based

Following best practices from urban planning, the work will involve residents. Following best practices from planet Earth, the work will also be scientifically rooted. Here are some more details from Amazon on this:

The program will collaborate with city officials and local community organizations to create and implement plans for:

    • reducing flood risk by improving rainwater retention through tree planting, revitalizing urban wetlands, and adapting existing green spaces,
    • reducing extreme heat and pollution by leveraging unused public spaces to plant trees and improving urban water bodies, and
    • increasing urban biodiversity by introducing pollinator-friendly species, climate resilient plants, and urban grasslands.

The program starts in the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district of Berlin and uses a science-based, municipality-wide, and stakeholder-based approach to urban greening to ensure that projects are complementing existing local efforts.

Volkswagen Reforesting Australia

I have to be honest, I’d struggle a bit if I had worked for decades in the auto industry. I probably would have entered the industry with little sense of what problems it was creating for our global atmosphere and long-term livability for the human species. Waking up to those problems, I would feel enormous guilt. Seeing the wildfires that ravaged Australia and California in recent years, well, that would be hard to digest.

Someone at Volkswagen may have had the same feeling, or a similar one. The company has decided to donate $1 million for Australian reforestation efforts and bush fire aid. Specifically, the money will go to Bush Heritage Australia — since Volkswagen is better at producing cars than managing reforestation projects.

Money for Trees

“Gabriele de Neidels, Volkswagen Group Australia, and Phil Palmer, Bush Heritage Australia, plant an eucalypt seedling with a green guard against hungry wildlife at Scottsdale-reserve.” Image and caption courtesy Volkswagen Group.

Announced today, Volkswagen added these details: “Following the devastating bush fires at the beginning of the year, Volkswagen is now donating one million Australian dollars (about 617,000 euros) to ‘Bush Heritage Australia’ for bush fire and reforestation projects in Australia. The ‘One Million Trees Project’ in the Eurardy Nature Reserve in Western Australia will receive 250,000 dollars and a project to restore 400 hectares in the Scottsdale Reserve in New South Wales will receive 750,000 dollars.”

The world, including Australian, may be focused on COVID-19 in 2020, but it’s only a matter of time before wildfires tear through Australia again. There’s also still an enormous amount of recovery needed across the country/continent.

More Money for Trees

It seems we missed the earlier announcement, but this is just 40% of Volkswagen Group’s overall commitment to helping respond to bush fire devastation in Australia. It donated more earlier this year and still has some cash in the bank to donate to these efforts.

“The donation is part of a 2.5 million Australian dollar donation framework that Volkswagen had pledged in response to the devastating bush fires in early 2020,” the company notes in its press release. “500,000 dollars was immediately sent to the volunteer fire brigades of Queensland, News South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Potential recipients for the remaining one million Australian dollars are currently being examined.”

The organization managing the funds provided by Volkswagen to green Australia further is a giant nature conservation organization. Bush Heritage Australia “acquires and manages land and works with indigenous people to protect the local flora and fauna. Bush Heritage owns 37 nature reserves covering an area of 1.24 million hectares. Through its 25 Aboriginal partnerships, the organisation supports the management of an additional 10.1 million hectares.”

Good is Good

Will this AUD$2.5 million balance out all of the pollution put out by non-electric Volkswagen cars this year? Not even close. That said, I’m a fan of highlighting and praising a company’s good deeds just as I am of calling out bad decisions.

Yes, we need millions of electric cars from Volkswagen, like, a few years ago. Still, at least it is planting trees in 2020 and planning for the rollout of tens of millions of electric vehicles in the 2020s.

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