AstraZeneca, a leading pharmaceutical and healthcare company, has announced a significant expansion of its AZ Forest programme with a commitment to plant up to six million trees in western Kenya.
The initiative, unveiled at COP28, is part of AstraZeneca’s broader global pledge to plant and maintain over 200 million trees across six continents by 2030. This commitment is aligned with the company’s recognition of the critical link between human and planetary health.
The reforestation project in Kenya, spanning six counties in the country’s west, will cover more than 3,500 hectares of land adjacent to the Rift Valley. AstraZeneca aims to utilize an advanced AI deep learning model, analyzing drone footage and satellite imagery to monitor tree growth, health, and carbon sequestration levels. This innovative approach reflects the company’s dedication to utilizing cutting-edge technology for environmental conservation.
As part of the AZ Forest programme, the Kenyan reforestation project is designed to promote long-term tree health, enhance biodiversity, and provide economic benefits to local communities. The initiative underscores the role of nature-based solutions in addressing the climate-health crisis, aligning with the COP28 agenda focusing on progress since the Glasgow Declaration of COP26 to end deforestation.
Juliette White, Vice President Global Sustainability at AstraZeneca, emphasized the clear link between planetary and human health. She stated, “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.” The expansion of AZ Forest to Kenya demonstrates AstraZeneca’s commitment to delivering reforestation at scale with a science-led approach for the benefit of both the environment and local communities.
AstraZeneca is collaborating with world-leading experts, including Earthbanc and the Green Planet Initiative 2050 Foundation (GPI2050), for the Kenya project. The initiative will engage more than 5,000 local farmers and community members, supporting the Kenyan government’s ambitious goal to plant 15 billion trees over the next decade.
Her Excellency Rachel Ruto, First Lady of the Republic of Kenya, commended AstraZeneca’s approach to reforestation, emphasizing the positive impact on both the planet and local economies. She stated, “This initiative will contribute towards Kenya’s goal to plant 15 billion trees over the next decade.”
Tom Duncan, CEO of Earthbanc, expressed excitement about supporting the project, highlighting the opportunity to accelerate and scale reforestation to address climate change. He said, “The AZ Forest initiative brings significant co-benefits with its focus on circular bioeconomy, sustainable communities, ecosystem health, and sustainable markets.”
Apart from Kenya, the global AZ Forest programme continues to progress, with Ghana witnessing the planting of almost three million trees this year and Rwanda gearing up for one of the largest forest restoration initiatives, targeting 5.8 million trees across 21,000 hectares.
AstraZeneca’s commitment to sustainable practices, technological innovation, and global reforestation initiatives aligns with the growing urgency to address climate change and underscores the role corporations can play in advancing environmental stewardship.