AstraZeneca’s $400m Commitment to Plant 200m Trees for Climate

The latest investment to reforestation is the largest ever made by a company.

Tue 04 Jul 23


AstraZeneca has expanded its global reforestation program, committed to planting 200 million trees globally by the decade’s end, backed by $400 million of new investment.

Last week, the pharmaceuticals giant unveiled plans for a host of new or expanded reforestation projects spanning over 100,000 hectares across Brazil, India, Vietnam, Ghana and Rwanda to support nature restoration and nature-based carbon removal.

The investment builds on the firm’s AZ Forest initiative, announced in 2020, in which it pledged to plant and maintain more than 50 million trees globally by the end of 2025 “in recognition of the strong connection between healthy people and a healthy planet.”

AZ Forest is part of the company’s Ambition Zero Strategy, which aims to deliver deep decarbonization in line with the Paris Agreement commitment to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Since the 2020 commitment, planting has progressed at pace with more than 10.5 million trees, including 300 tree species across Australia, Indonesia, Ghana, the USA and France. 

In addition, the expanded programme will also benefit local communities, positively impacting an estimated 80,000 livelihoods.

To meet the 2025 commitment, AstraZeneca, through its planting partner OneTreePlanted has partnered with Greening Australia to plant 25 million trees in Australia and has partnered with Trees4Trees to plant 10 million additional trees in Indonesia.

The Australian commitment represents the largest private commitment to reforestation in the country’s history, with the first planting occurring in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales in September 2021.

An example of tree planting is in the Tasmanian midlands. Footage courtesy of @GreeningAustraliaNational

In an interview with Greening Australia last September, AstraZeneca Australia and New Zealand Country Manager Benjamin McDonald says that AstraZeneca’s commitment to a strong healthcare system starts with supporting the environment, which is demonstrated through their commitment to the reforestation project:

“Australia has a real need for reforestation, with the effects and devastation of the 2019 bushfires still being felt in our environmental ecosystem. We believe this project will bring tangible renewal of our forests and communities.

“AstraZeneca remains committed to building a more sustainable future for healthier people and a healthier planet. And we are extremely proud to partner with Greening Australia to achieve real and significant outcomes in protecting our environment.”

The pledge marks a four-fold increase on its original goal

AstraZeneca now works with 18 environmental partners – planting experts, local communities and governments – to deliver natural forest restoration and agroforestry at scale. 

Increasingly heavy emitters are considering reforestation and carbon offsets to meet their climate commitments.

Last month, Wood Central reported on Shell, BP and Eni, who have invested in carbon offset programmes to meet low emission targets. 

In August 2020, Shell Australia acquired Select Carbon, investing in forests, grasslands, wetlands, and various natural ecosystems worldwide to reduce emissions, capture CO2, and support biodiversity and local communities.

Of the 200 million trees committed, India (65 million), Australia (25 million) and Vietnam (22 million) account for more than half the trees planted.

In India, AstraZeneca is working with Earthblanc and local implementation partners to plant a diverse range of agroforestry species and restore degraded lands in Meghalaya, one of the world’s ‘biodiversity hotspots.’

The program will work with 17,000 small landowners in Vietnam to support improved diets, nutrition, and soil and water conservation.

The commitment supports AstraZeneca’s targets to halve emissions across its entire global value chain by 2030 against 2019 levels, on the way to achieving net zero by 2045, as certified by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

Under its SBTi goals, the firm aims to reduce its absolute Scopes 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent by 2045. 

The global reforestation program would help offset the roughly 10 percent of the company’s remaining emissions by that date.

“We are taking a science-based approach, and AZ Forest will remove around 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over about 30 years,” said Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s CEO.

“The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are damaging the planet and human health. We are working with local communities and ecological experts through AZ Forest to deliver reforestation at scale, support biodiversity and sustain livelihoods.”

Alongside the enhanced $400 million commitment, AstraZeneca also published a “first of its kind” science-based framework for delivering “sustainable, resilient and locally-appropriate” landscape regeneration to support circular bioeconomy value chains and biodiversity.

The Circular Bioeconomy Alliance (CBA) supports the framework. According to the CBA Chair, Marc Palahí, forests are key to fighting climate change, enhancing biodiversity and “powering a circular economy that prospers in harmony with nature.”

Footage courtesy of @lombardodier8422

“Forests and trees are the backbone for life on our planet and the basis for human health and wellbeing,” Mr Palahi said, who is also director of the European Forest Insitute (EFI).

 “Through the design and delivery of public-private partnerships like AZ Forest, underpinned by a science-based and principles-led approach, we can mitigate the impacts of climate change and create economic and social value for local communities.”

The AZ Forest program is also designed to support the World Economic Forum’s public-private initiative, through which partners collectively aim to restore and grow 1 trillion trees worldwide by 2030.


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