Airbus launches international species conservation project

German and Spanish commitment to strengthening the Ibis population agreed at ILA 2010

9 June 2010 Press Release

Aircraft manufacturer Airbus and the Weltvogelpark-Foundation Walsrode agreed a Letter of Intent for strengthening the population of the Northern Bald Ibis, or Waldrapp, within the framework of the Airbus partnership with the UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The agreement was signed in the presence of the Parliamentary Secretary of State at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Katherina Reiche, and the General Director of the Environmental Department of the Spanish Regional Government of Andalusia, F. Javier Madrid Rojo.

The Northern Bald Ibis or Waldrapp (Geronticus eremita) was once widespread over large areas of Mediterranean countries, with its habitat extending into Alpine regions. Today, there are just 150 of these birds living freely in the wild. The aim is to cooperate with the Weltvogelpark-Foundation to build up an isolated independent population with birds living freely in the wild with the support of the Andalusian Government.The aim in the initial phase is to establish a healthy local population in the Cadiz region made up of birds from the World Bird Sanctuary. Schools from Northern Germany will play a role in supporting the resettlement with research projects.

Airbus is committing significant resources to fostering global diversity. The photo competition for school children enjoyed significant international success in 2009. A total of some 3,000 entries provided a pictorial record of the wealth of diversity. A touring exhibition was created from the prize-winning photos and this exhibition is being shown this year at UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris, the Winter Olympic Games in Canada, the International Tourism Exhibition in Berlin, and at the UN conferences in Nairobi, Tokyo and New York. Airbus joined forces with Lufthansa to support the resettlement of cranes in north-western England. Crane eggs from the Schorfheide Nature Reserve in Brandenburg/Germany were flown from Hamburg to London with support from Lufthansa. So far, Airbus has recruited more than 20 airlines to support the UN Convention of Biodiversity.

Under the management of the French Environment Ministry, Airbus is working with other companies to promote a project to retain biodiversity on the Easter Islands. Airbus is particularly concerned to involve school children and raise their awareness for biodiversity. Together with Hollywood actress Daryl Hannar, zoologists from London Zoo and Airbus engineers have conducted tours around the zoo to highlight the unique ideas of bionics for classes of school children and make the subject of species diversity an important element of learning from an early age.

“Protection of species diversity is a key issue for safeguarding the basic conditions for life on earth. We all have a role to play on this issue. I would therefore like to welcome the commitment of Airbus to the diversity of species. Particularly, in the International Year of Biodiversity, this sends an important signal aimed at motivating other companies to launch initiatives, take responsibility and create a higher level of awareness for our natural assets”, said Katherina Reiche, Parliamentary Secretary of State at the German Federal Ministry of the Environment Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

“Every day, the aerospace industry makes robust efforts to continue reducing the two percent share of our industry to CO2 emissions. However, we are “going the extra mile” in our partnership with the UN Convention on Biodiversity. This is because 18 percent of CO2 emissions are caused by the deforestation of tropical rain forests. Cutting down forests is also a major threat for species protection,” says Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders. “In our view, species diversity in the natural world also has a strong economic dimension. After all, nature was always the inspiration and role model for aviation. It is important to conserve this potential for creativity and inventiveness. At the same time, we have to intensify our awareness for facts, realities and challenges in the area of the environment. The aviation industry can then be regarded in the light of what we are: players in the solution and not part of the problem.”

Air transport is a necessity on a worldwide scale and is not incompatible with the creation of a better environment for all. Airbus is convinced that the essential social and economic benefits made possible by a more accessible world are still to come and will give rise to a more sustainable world.

Airbus is pursuing the goal of reducing the current share of two percent in CO2 emissions generated worldwide by aviation. Over the past 40 years, fuel consumption has been reduced by 70percent and noise emissions have come down by 75 percent. Airbus invests 80 percent of its financial resources earmarked for Research and Development (R&D) in technologies for more environmentally sound flying. The aviation industry of the future is destined to link together all the people in the world while protecting the environment over the long term.

The Bird Sanctuary in Walsrode is the largest of its kind and is one of the 10 zoos in the world with the greatest diversity of species. A total of 4,000 birds encompassing 650 different species live there in a park landscape covering 24 hectares. The World Bird Sanctuary brings bird researchers from all over the world to Walsrode.