AZ Forest: our reforestation initiative
AZ Forest is a global initiative to plant and maintain 50-million trees worldwide by 2025, in partnership with local governments and non-profit organisations focused on global reforestation. The initiative supports the World Economic Forum’s ‘1T.org – The Champions for a Trillion Trees’ platform, where we are members of the Corporate Alliance committed to helping conserve, restore and grow one trillion trees by 2030.
Our AZ Forest programme is part of our work to address climate change, together with our Ambition Zero Carbon strategy. We recognise the strong connection between a healthy planet and healthy people, and we work to foster environments in which all life can thrive. Trees are a nature-based solution to remove CO2 and are essential to mitigate the effects of climate change. Reforestation has a number of sustainability co-benefits, including:
- support disease prevention by:
- reducing air pollution, leading to improved air quality
- cooling the environment by providing shade from the sun, helping manage surface and air temperatures
- reduce the risk of natural disasters, such as floods and landslides
- support a healthy water cycle by increasing flows in the dry season and reducing flooding in heavy rainfall
- foster biodiversity
- help increase physical activity in the local community through additional green space
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that our society is more fragile than we had thought, and the world needs to come together before we are faced with challenges that are even harder to overcome, such as an environmental catastrophe. Our global AZ Forest programme will help to support a healthy environment for local communities and contribute to the delivery of AstraZeneca’s ambitious climate change goals.
Since launching the global AZ Forest programme in January 2020, we have programmes in place to plant 45 million trees worldwide, which puts us well on track to deliver our target of 50 million by 2025. Despite the COVID-19 global pandemic putting much tree planting activity on hold, the planning work continued throughout and in September 2020 the first major tree planting took place in Australia, where we have committed to planting 25 million trees.
Our AZ Forest principles
The Guiding Principles ensure a consistent approach to tree planting that follows the science and help guide local initiatives to have positive sustainability impacts. AZ Forest contributes to all three pillars of our sustainability strategy – Access to Healthcare, Environmental Protection and Ethics and Transparency. Within these pillars, local initiatives can positively impact Disease prevention, Wellbeing and Water stewardship .
The global programme complements the tree planting initiatives driven by employees. AZ Forest includes any tree that is planted through AstraZeneca and our workforce that follows the Guiding Principles:
1. Involve local people that will be impacted by the project (ex. landowners, communities, governments, etc.) and ensure common goals are sought
2. Monitor trees for an average of 3 years to ensure survival
3. Schedule planting for a period that is appropriate for local seasons and climate conditions
4. Select tree species that are locally appropriate
5. Ensure there is a long-term strategy to protect the area and trees as well as a risk mitigation plan (ex. to prevent fires, encroachment, etc.). Consider land ownership.
6. Verify that location of planting is aligned to impact objectives
7. Determine possible negative impacts (ex. on local communities, water, biodiversity, etc.)
8. Test soil for suitability prior to planting
9. Review local and national regulations
10. Report baseline metrics from local partner- # trees died (tree mortality); # trees planted; # trees planted by species; latitude and longitude coordinates
The environment’s impact on health
The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 13 million people die each year from environmentally related health risks, including 7 million people from air pollution alone – now the second leading cause of NCD deaths worldwide, behind tobacco smoke. AstraZeneca is Patron Sponsor of the United Nations (UN) led group “Health is Everyone’s Business,” as part of the Business Ambition for Climate and Health Action Platform, to accelerate ambitious climate action and explore what the climate-health connection means for business, in order to become a catalyst for country-level action to deliver on the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).