AI deep learning model to monitor tree health, long-term survival and carbon sequestration; Commitment to plant and maintain up to six million trees in Kenya in support of climate action, human health and community resilience.
As part of its flagship AZ Forest programme, AstraZeneca has made a pledge to plant up to six million trees in western Kenya. The new project, announced at COP28, builds on the company’s recently expanded African reforestation initiatives in Ghana and Rwanda. AZ Forest Africa is part of AstraZeneca’s broader commitment to plant and maintain more than 200 million trees across six continents by 2030, in recognition of the strong connection between human and planetary health.
The reforestation in Kenya will span six counties in the west of the country, adjacent to the Rift Valley, covering more than 3,500 hectares of land. The project will be amongst the first to use an advanced AI deep learning model to analyse drone footage and satellite imagery to monitor tree growth and health, while also quantifying levels of carbon sequestration.
Designed using a science-based approach and harnessing new technological innovations, the programme aims to promote long-term tree health, increase biodiversity of flora and fauna, and generate an economic boost for local communities.
The role nature-based solutions can play in addressing the climate-health crisis is a top agenda item at COP28, with the climate summit placing a focus on the progress made since the Glasgow Declaration of COP26 to end deforestation.[4,5] New research has underlined the impact that reforestation and the protection of existing trees can have in tackling climate change, potentially sequestering up to 226 gigatonnes of carbon.
Juliette White, Vice President Global Sustainability, AstraZeneca, said: “The link between planetary and human health is clear. Investing in our natural world through tree planting and conservation, and limiting deforestation, are some of the most effective preventative health steps we can take. By expanding AZ Forest to Kenya, we are progressing our commitment to deliver reforestation at scale, with a science-led approach that benefits both the environment and local communities.”
AstraZeneca is working with world-leading experts to design and deliver its AZ Forest programme including with Earthbanc and the Green Planet Initiative 2050 Foundation (GPI2050) for its Kenya project. Indigenous and productive tree species will improve soil health and local crop yields, while produce including leaves and honey will benefit the local agroeconomy. More than 5,000 local farmers and local community members will be engaged in the project, which also aims to support a groundbreaking reforestation ambition from the Kenyan government.
Her Excellency Rachel Ruto First Lady of the Republic of Kenya, said: “Climate change affects us all and tackling it requires concerted action from governments, individuals, and business.
“We welcome AstraZeneca’s approach to reforestation: working with local communities to ensure economic benefits for people that match the positive impact on the planet. This initiative will contribute towards Kenya’s goal to plant 15 billion trees over the next decade.”
Tom Duncan, CEO, Earthbanc, said: “This land regeneration project in Kenya is a very exciting opportunity that we are pleased to support in collaboration with our partners. Earthbanc is committed to bringing private sector climate finance to accelerate and scale reforestation to meet the challenge of climate change. The AZ Forest initiative brings significant co-benefits with its focus on circular bioeconomy, sustainable communities, ecosystem health and sustainable markets. We are looking forward to this project launch and demonstrating that we can all play a part in the global effort towards planetary regeneration.”
Aside from Kenya, AZ Forest’s global programme which aims to span 100,000 hectares worldwide continues apace. In Ghana, almost three million trees have been planted this year taking the total to over four million since the project began in 2021. The project has engaged 1,200 farmers across 23 communities. While in Rwanda, 6,000 farming households are signed up to the project, with 16 community nurseries established to grow a range of indigenous and fruit tree species. Planting is set to start in the coming months with a target to plant around 5.8 million trees across 21,000 hectares, in what is one of the largest forest restoration initiatives in Rwanda.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of AstraZeneca.
AZ Forest is AstraZeneca’s commitment to plant and maintain over 200 million trees by 2030, in partnership with experts and local communities. AZ Forest projects support planetary and human health with significant socio-economic co-benefits, and are part of AstraZeneca’s science-based net zero strategy, Ambition Zero Carbon (https://apo-opa.co/47R8uja).[2,7]
Three-quarters of land globally have been significantly altered by human activities, with profound effects on ecosystems and population health. [8,9]Reforestation is a nature-based solution which can mitigate the effects of climate change as it removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and contributes to climate adaptation and resilience.  Through safeguarding water resources, promoting food security and nutrition, lowering surface and air temperatures and combatting air pollution, restoring forest landscapes and biodiversity supports human health, with additional benefits for communities and economies.[11,12]
AZ Forest will include the use of the latest innovations in remote sensing and high-resolution imagery, and long-term monitoring will track the health of trees, soil and water quality and biodiversity, as well as carbon sequestration.
Building on projects underway in Australia, Indonesia, Ghana, the UK and the US, the expansion of AZ Forest includes new and expanded projects across Africa, Asia and South America:
Brazil: A new 30-year AZ Forest partnership with Biofílica and Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IPE) called “Corridors for Life” will plant 12 million trees within the Atlantic Forest, with over 100 native species planned in each project area. Creating ecological corridors between fragmented pockets of forests in the west of São Paulo state, this programme will create an important habitat for vulnerable and endangered species.
India: A new 30-year AZ Forest partnership with Earthbanc on a Reforestation and Sustainable Livelihoods project in Meghalaya state in north-east India, will plant an estimated 64 million trees, focusing on a diverse mix of agroforestry species. The project is expected to be the largest CBA “Living Lab” (https://apo-opa.co/47VVtF5). It will restore nature in this degraded biodiversity hotspot while improving livelihoods for 26,000 households.
Ghana: An expansion of the existing AZ Forest programme in Ghana with the CBA, New Generation Plantation Technical Assistance (NGPTA) and other partners will see an additional 1.6 million trees planted and maintained, bringing the total targeted number of surviving trees to 4.7 million, and restoring over 8,000 hectares of degraded areas in the Atebubu-Amantin and Sene West districts of central Ghana. This community-led programme, part of a network of “Living Labs”, seeks to boost forest restoration, agroforestry, biodiversity and nature-based business models for small-holder farmers.
Rwanda: AstraZeneca has provided seed funding to accelerate the development of a new 30-year project in partnership with the Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS) and Reforest’Action to plant around 5.8 million trees, investing in woodlots, agroforestry and climate resilience. Developed in line with CBA principles and with the aim to be another “Living Lab”, the “MuLaKiLa” project will benefit around 30,000 farming households, in what is one the largest forest restoration initiatives in Rwanda.
Vietnam: AstraZeneca aims to plant around 20 million trees across 30,000 hectares to restore Vietnam’s forests and landscapes. This new investment will allow biodiversity to flourish, provide sustainable livelihoods for more than 20,000 small-holder farmers, improve diets and nutrition, and conserve soil and water.
Additional projects are in development.
AZ Forest projects support planetary and human health with significant socio-economic co-benefits, as part of AstraZeneca’s science-based net zero strategy, Ambition Zero Carbon. By the end of 2022, over 10.5 million trees have been planted, despite a global pandemic, in:
Australia: In partnership with Greening Australia and One Tree Planted, more than four million trees have been planted (total programme of 25 million), including 260 native tree species, supporting vulnerable and endangered wildlife species.
Indonesia: In partnership with One Tree Planted and Trees4Trees, more than 3 million trees have been planted, with over 13,000 farmers opting into agroforestry activities in 2022.
Ghana: Over 3 million trees have been planted, driving ecological and community resilience through the community-led “Living Lab” project in partnership with CBA.
France: We have replanted 450 rare oak trees lost in the devastating storms of 1990 and 1999 at the Palace of Versailles. The oak trees provide a natural habitat for butterflies, birds, fungi and mammals, promoting biodiversity and bringing life back to the iconic gardens of Versailles.
UK: More than 470,000 trees have been planted in Scotland and England with Forestry England and Borders Forest Trust Scotland, to create high-quality woodland areas that provide additional green space in support of physical and mental wellbeing.
US: More than 100,000 trees have been planted to date, restoring more than 100 kilometers of riverside woodlands in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Ambition Zero Carbon:
Through its Ambition Zero Carbon strategy, AstraZeneca is pursuing ambitious, science-based decarbonisation targets, accelerating progress towards net-zero, and managing the risks and opportunities presented by climate change. The Company is on track to reduce GHG emissions from its global operations and fleet (Scope 1 and 2) by 98% by 2026 from a 2015 baseline. AstraZeneca aims to halve its entire value chain footprint (Scope 3) by 2030, on the way to a 90% absolute emissions reduction from a 2019 baseline and becoming science-based net zero by 2045 at the latest. AstraZeneca was one of the first seven companies globally to have its net-zero targets verified by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) Corporate Net-Zero Standard. Through AZ Forest, we will invest in high-quality, nature-based solutions to remove the residual emissions we have not eliminated, reduced or substituted, no greater than 10% of our 2019 emissions footprint.
AstraZeneca (LSE/STO/Nasdaq: AZN) is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialisation of prescription medicines in Oncology, Rare Diseases and BioPharmaceuticals, including Cardiovascular, Renal&Metabolism and Respiratory&Immunology. Based in Cambridge, UK, AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. Please visit AstraZeneca.com follow the Company on Twitter @AstraZeneca (https://apo-opa.co/3SZwn45).
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