Environmental protection is the top priority for Volkswagen
Harmonising individual mobility and sustainability are amongst the key objectives of the Volkswagen initiative, Think Blue. As such, environmental protection is the top priority for Volkswagen. BlueEnvironment, one of the three legs of the Think Blue. initiative, covers cooperation and partnerships with environmental organisations that are actively involved in sustainability and environmental awareness.
“Environmental awareness has been a topical issue in Europe for many years but it is only in the last few years that it has become such an important topic in South Africa. With Think Blue., Volkswagen aims to inspire people and heighten their awareness to engage in environmentally-friendly and sustainable actions. We will initiate an open, understandable dialogue, inviting people to share ideas about “Think Blue”. We want to show people that ecologically sustainable behaviour is not only possible, but fun too,” said Mike Glendinning, Director: Sales and Marketing at Volkswagen Group South Africa.
Volkswagen South Africa has partnered with three environmental organisations, namely, South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (SAMREC), Dyer Island Trust and Wilderness Foundation.
SAMREC is a non-profit organisation that was formed in 2000 to care for sick and injured African penguins on St Croix Island in the Nelson Mandela Bay. The island is the biggest breeding colony for the endangered African penguins. SAMREC’s rehabilitation facility also cares for other marine animals. The centre provides education and awareness on marine animals through its SeaSchool programme to learners from disadvantaged communities.
Recently Volkswagen employees, through the internal volunteering programme, Show of Hands, extended the education facilities of the centre by creating an interactive trail and open-air classroom for learners. They also renovated the general ward for the penguins in the rehabilitation facility.
Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT)
Dyer Island is a 20 hectare nature reserve in Gansbaai that is managed by CapeNature. It is a rich breeding ground for birds, most significantly the endangered African penguin and, accordingly, is classified as an important bird area by Birdlife International. Dyer Island’s surrounding waters are home to African penguins, great white sharks, seals, dolphins and whales – the “Marine Big 5”.
The Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) plays a pivotal role in the research and conservation of the animals in the area and has partnered with leading universities (local and international), the Department of Environmental Affairs and other Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
In 2011, Volkswagen sponsored two vehicles, a Touareg with BlueMotion Technology and a Polo BlueMotion to DICT. These vehicles assist DICT with beach rescues, transporting of researchers and volunteers, and the general running of the 2
organisation. Volkswagen is also supporting the research vessel, Ulwazi, which is painted in the colours of Think Blue.
“With our sponsorship to DICT, we are trying to implement small changes that will make big differences in the future. This is Volkswagen’s contribution to the ecological sustainability of our Marine Big 5,” said Glendinning.
The Trust was founded in 2006 by Wilfred Chivell. Together with CapeNature, he started a penguin housing project to address the issue of the lack of breeding habitat for this species. Past extensive guano scraping removed the African penguins’ natural breeding habitat and left them exposed to predators and other elements.
Chivell designed a unique penguin home, modelled on their natural burrows. His design has been lauded nationally and internationally and is now used extensively at other colonies.
Forever Wild is a rhino anti-poaching initiative in partnership with Wilderness Foundation and five conservation agencies in high priority areas of Mpumalanga, North West, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal.
The aim of the initiative, which was launched in 2011, is to gather support from the public and various stakeholders to help fight against rhino poaching in South Africa.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles sponsored six Amaroks to Wilderness Foundation, SANPARKS, North West Parks and Tourism Board, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, KZN Wildlife and Eastern Cape Private Game Reserves Association (Indalo) and they are primarily used in proactive rhino protection activities.