Part of the Cherohala Skyway in the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee
One automaker delivered the gift of green infrastructure this holiday season.
To help protect forestlands, Volkswagen of America, through a sponsorship of The Conservation Fund, is donating $1.25 million towards increasing the footprint of the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee by nearly 1,500 acres, and supporting other woodlands efforts.
“Our support of The Conservation Fund will help strengthen the environment and help us give back to a community where more than 3,800 of our colleagues live,” said President and CEO Scott Keogh of Volkswagen Group of America in a statement.
The objective is for lands near the state-of-the-art Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant to be open to the public for outdoor recreation, and to help conserve the habitats of local animal populations, including the black bear and the endangered Indiana bat.
“This collaboration in our own backyard underscores our ‘Drive Bigger’ goal of pursuing ideas bigger than ourselves and then taking action,” Keogh said. “We feel a responsibility to show how a major automaker can credibly contribute to the greater good.”
The Cherokee National Forest in the Southern Appalachian mountain range is located in east Tennessee, and at more than 655,000 acres is the largest tract of public land in the state. The Cherokee National Forest adjoins other national forests in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
“We are excited about our partnership with Volkswagen and the opportunity to advance their commitment to corporate leadership around sustainability,” said Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund.
Founded in 1985, The Conservation Fund focuses on conservation and communities, and creates solutions for people and organizations to protect natural resources and the places that matter to them, with ecological, historic or cultural significance. The Conservation Fund has worked in all 50 states and has protected more than 8 million acres of land.
Speaking of solutions, the cross-sector collaboration by The Conservation Fund and Volkswagen is producing a community grant program of $200,000 to support the work of qualified nonprofits, schools and public agencies in east Tennessee, in order to improve water quality, increase access to outdoor recreation and advance environmental education.
Selzer said of their corporate partner, “Volkswagen is taking real, measurable steps forward to help protect the environment, embrace sustainable business practices and support the communities in which they work.”