AstraZeneca is Planting 50 Million Trees Worldwide for Environmental and Human Health
Jesse Lewis | January 6, 2021 | 4 min read
Reforestation for Bushfire Recovery, Orangutan Habitat Conservation, and Human Health
As consumer awareness has grown around our ecological footprints, forward thinking companies have taken note. Some, like our partners at AstraZeneca — one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies — are leading the way.
At the close of 2020 the company has invested a whopping $100m into a natural resources protection program that has enabled them to reduce their operational greenhouse gas emissions by 1/3 and water consumption by 20% since 2015. At the same time, they have seen significant business growth proving that sustainability can also mean profitability.
Going one step further, in January 2020 at the World Economic Forum, AstraZeneca announced its AZ Forest program in partnership with One Tree Planted. An ambitious goal to plant an astounding 50 million trees worldwide by 2025. Despite the global pandemic putting much tree planting activity on hold, the planning work has continued and planting began in Australia in 2020.
Planting 25 Million Trees in Australia for Bushfire Recovery
The first planting of 20,000 trees took place in September in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. The event inaugurated a huge, multi-year collaboration to establish 25 million native tree across Australia.
This ambitious environmental project is shaping up to be one of the largest in Australia’s history. As part of a collaboration between AstraZeneca’s global AZ Forest program, One Tree Planted, and the Global Evergreening Alliance’s Restore Australia program, local partner Greening Australia will be planting a total of 25 million trees in priority locations across Australia by 2025.
Collectively, the project will span an area of approximately 20,000 hectares of land (equivalent to 1/3 the size of Manhattan) and create habitat for dozens of endangered species. It is estimated that these trees will sequester approximately 4.25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over a 25-year crediting period, equivalent to the emissions produced by 920,000 cars running for an entire year.
The project will harness local knowledge, providing economic opportunities for Traditional Owners and rural communities through seed collection, planting and long-term stewardship. It is anticipated that the project could create as many as 890 jobs across regional Australia over the next five years, engaging up to 150 Indigenous and Non-Indigenous business sub-contractors, seed suppliers and nurseries.
Planting 20 Million Trees in Indonesia for Wildlife and People
As tree planting kicked off in Australia, the AZ Forest program was also being launched in Indonesia. As part of a commitment to support healthy environments for people and wildlife in Indonesia, AstraZeneca has pledged to plant 20 million trees in the country over the next five years with One Tree Planted and two amazing local partners.
The first steps in the planting of 10 million trees have already begun in Tanjung Puting National Park. Located in south-central Kalimantan on the island of Borneo, Tanjung Puting National Park is a sanctuary for countless species of plants and animals, including the largest population of wild orangutans left on Earth. Helping restore forests in this protected area will help protect orangutans and other species, while helping sequester carbon and creating employment opportunities for the local community.
On the ground, the 10 million trees will be planted by Friends of the National Parks Foundation, a longstanding partner of One Tree Planted who has been working to conserve Tanjung Puting National Park since 1997. By the end of January 2021, at least 1.5 million trees will already have been planted. Hundreds of local people will be employed seasonally through this project, providing sustainable economic alternatives to poaching, illegal mining, and monoculture palm oil plantations.
Meanwhile, tree planting is also taking place along the Citarum River Basin in West Java with 60,000 trees scheduled for planting by the end of January 2021. Some 9 million people live in close contact with and depend on the Citarum River. Despite its overwhelming importance, it is frequently cited as one of the most polluted waterways in the world. Unregulated factory emissions have polluted the river with chemicals and toxic metals, while rubbish has choked its pathways.
One Tree Planted, local partner Trees4Trees and AstraZeneca are committed to planting 10 million trees to rehabilitate the river over the next five years and work with local farmers to transition to more sustainable and diversified crops through agroforestry.
Planting trees will help stabilize soil along the Citarum River, improving water quality by reducing erosion and sedimentation. Up to 40,000 local farmers will get access to agroforestry training and support through the project, increasing economic opportunities while restoring soil fertility and transforming this polluted area into a green corridor.
Healthy Environments Equal Healthy People
2020 has shown us that environmental health is intricately connected to human health. Destroying forests and exploiting wildlife creates opportunities for diseases to spread between species, causing dangerous and novel viruses like the coronavirus to emerge, impacting public health globally.
In recent years, the World Health Organization and others have recognized the idea of “One Health.” This is an approach to designing and implementing programs, policies, legislation and research that involves multiple sectors communicating and working together to achieve better public health outcomes.
This interdisciplinary approach is important for understanding the intricate relationships between humans, animals, and the environment. As we push closer to the natural boundaries and limits of our planet, this understanding is needed more than ever to transition to a more sustainable future.
As a company, AstraZeneca intuitively understands that planting trees and nurturing a healthy environment also means nurturing healthy people. We think so too, and we’re so grateful to have them as part of the One Tree Planted family. We’re looking forward to the continued success of our long-term partnership as we plant millions of trees over the next five years and beyond!