VILSA supports the WWF’s work in the floodplains of the Elbe.

VILSA has championed the protection of nature and the sustainable management of resources for several generations now – and not only in relation to our local source in northern Germany. One project that is very close to our hearts, and one that we have been actively supporting since 2014, is the WWF’s project in the Elbe floodplains.

This unique river landscape, with its floodplains and old mixed and oak forests, represents a very special habitat for many rare plants and animals, such as the black stork, Elbe beaver and great capricorn beetle.

This makes it all the more important to protect and preserve this habitat.

VILSA WWF Logo

Uniquely valuable: the Elbe floodplains at Vockerode

Nature concerns us all. The Elbe floodplains in Dessau, around the mouth of the river Mulde, are located in the Middle Elbe Biosphere Reserve in Saxony-Anhalt and are an integral part of the UNESCO world heritage site, the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz. The natural plant world is shaped by the Elbe’s flood regime. The reserve still contains alluvial forests and floodplain meadows with solitary oaks and old courses of the Elbe – a unique habitat for many rare animals like the Elbe beaver or the firebellied toad, an endangered species.

In the past, river regulation, dyke construction and other interventions in this region have led to a lack of sufficiently large natural floodplains to cope with flooding of the Elbe. Such flooding is thus becoming an increasing threat to humans and animals, as witnessed most recently in 2014.

Specific WWF measures in the Elbe floodplains

Shaped by extensive, meadow-filled landscapes, hardwood alluvial forests and branches of the river, the Elbe floodplains are home to many animal and plant species, some of them rare. In a unique rewilding project based around the Elbe floodplains in the Dessau region, the WWF, together with VILSA, plans to upgrade this valuable river landscape and safeguard it in the long term.

By implementing measures such as

  1. the reclamation of floodplains,
  2. the reforestation with indigenous hardwood species, and
  3. the creation of additional wetland habitats,

the home of Elbe beavers, red kites, white storks and other species will be sustainably safeguarded in the long term.

VILSA and the WWF

VILSA has championed the protection of nature for generations in order to protect the forests and the VILSA sources. In the long term, VILSA wants to give something back to nature in the form of forest and water protection projects. With the WWF, we have found a knowledgeable and trusted partner that has campaigned successfully for years to preserve natural resources.

You will find additional information here:

Frequently asked questions

1. How do the WWF and VILSA collaborate?

VILSA and the WWF have been working together since 2014 on the sustainable protection of the German Elbe floodplains. The slogan “VILSA supports the work of the WWF in the Elbe floodplains and elsewhere” is representative of the long-term partnership between VILSA and the WWF. Customers can also actively help to protect nature and do some good for the environment within the framework of the VILSA/WWF partnership: with every returnable crate of VILSA mineral water sold during the relevant campaign period, customers can support VILSA and the WWF in the reforestation of the Elbe floodplains.

2. Why does VILSA support the WWF?

Naturally pure VILSA mineral water comes directly from the depths of northern Germany and has been preserved there from external environmental influences by thick layers of clay for thousands of years. It is a natural product, whose purity must be protected for future generations. For this reason, the sustainable conservation of nature and the responsible management of natural resources are particularly important to VILSA and an integral part of our corporate philosophy. VILSA therefore supports important nature conservation projects such as the WWF’s Elbe floodplains project in Dessau.

3. Why does VILSA support projects in Germany?

VILSA’s natural mineral water originates from a source in northern Germany. VILSA not only campaigns for environmental protection locally in the municipality of Bruchhausen-Vilsen in Lower Saxony, the region of origin of VILSA mineral water, the company also wants to do something outside its own native region to protect forests and water. In cooperation with the WWF, VILSA has identified the Elbe floodplain region as particularly valuable and intends to be involved there in the coming years. It is also particularly important to VILSA that the company itself is familiar with the implementation and successes of nature conservation on the ground, as it were.

4. How long have VILSA and the WWF been working together?

The partnership was initially agreed for one year in Germany in 2014. The results were so favorable that the campaign was continued successfully in the years that followed. Moreover, both partners are interested in a long-term collaboration.

5. What are the WWF’s Elbe floodplain projects?

The WWF’s aim is to work with its project partners to improve the state of nature in the Elbe riverscape and to safeguard it in the long term. Large-scale measures, which will be completed by 2017, are currently being implemented; others are already in preparation. The project is based in the Elbe floodplains of the Middle Elbe Biosphere Reserve in Dessau in Saxony-Anhalt. Large areas are an important part of the world heritage site, the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz. Traversed by alluvial forests, floodplain meadows and oxbow lakes along the Elbe, it provides an undisturbed habitat and retreat for many endangered plant and animal species, such as the Siberian iris, beaver and middle spotted woodpecker.

6. What measures is the WWF implementing in the Elbe floodplains?

An important objective of the various projects in the Elbe floodplains is the reclamation of former floodplains in order to provide more space for floodwaters. The necessary measures that need to be taken to adapt to the repeated natural flooding of the affected forests and other areas are systematically planned and implemented. Specifically, this includes the following:

  • the purchase and long-term safeguarding of agriculturally used land by the WWF
  • the partial reforestation of areas subject to flooding with hardwood floodplain forests consisting of indigenous tree species that can withstand floodwaters
  • the creation of additional wetlands to support beavers, cranes and some amphibians

7. When does the project work begin in the Elbe floodplains?

The WWF has been involved in the Middle Elbe since as far back as 2001. Several projects are currently underway. These are focused on upgrading and safeguarding the Elbe floodplains in the long term. Activities such as reforestation (last undertaken in the fall of 2013, continued in the fall of 2014) or the creation of wetlands in the fall of 2014 are constantly starting.

8. How much does VILSA donate to support the WWF?

During the campaign period, we make a donation to the WWF for each crate of VILSA that is sold. In this way, we actively support the WWF’s nature conservation measures, including those designed to protect the Elbe floodplains. Thanks to your help, this came to a total of € 528,500 between 2014 and 2017. Thank you so much for your support!

9. Can I visit WWF projects on the Elbe and see the work that the WWF is doing there?

Yes! With the exception of certain protected areas, the WWF’s various project activities are free to visit in the Elbe’s floodplain landscape. An extended network of tourist paths, especially cycle paths such as the famous Elbe cycle path, various educational trails for natural history wetlands in the Middle Elbe Biosphere Reserve and other tourist-related starting points in the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz world heritage site offer a variety of access points. Subject-specific information panels on the project activities are dotted around the project areas. The “WWF Hands-on” (WWF zum Anfassen) campaign also takes place regularly. See the WWF website for any initial inquiries on the region and on the respective areas of activity: www.wwf.de/elbe (German).

10. How sustainable is VILSA in general?

VILSA operates an integrated management system. This includes a process of certification based on the DIN EN ISO 9001 quality management system and the ISO 14001 environmental management system. The company also undergoes environmental audits and operates a tried-and-tested HACCP system. At VILSA, environmental considerations are taken on board when making economic decisions. The potential environmental impact of operating activities, products and procedures are checked and monitored. VILSA takes steps to reduce emissions, waste, noise, waste water and energy consumption to a minimum. VILSA is committed to acting in accordance with environmentally friendly principles. The EU’s environmental audit directive (Directive No. 1836/93 on voluntary participation in the European Union’s community system for environmental management and the environmental audit) is firmly embedded in VILSA’s integrated management system. It was implemented as early as the first half of 1997 and confirmed by another successful environmental audit in May 2000. The environmental audit was successfully reformulated to comply with ISO 14001 in March 2003.