- 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 reforestation project in Kenya will cover more than 3,500 hectares across six counties in the west of the country, adjacent to the Rift Valley.
- Aside from Kenya, AZ Forest’s global program, which aims to span 100,000 hectares worldwide targets Ghana and Rwanda.
AstraZeneca is committed to planting and maintaining up to six million trees in Kenya, employing an Artificial Intelligence (AI) deep learning model to monitor tree health, long-term survival, and carbon sequestration.
This initiative supports climate action, human health, and community resilience. AstraZeneca’s flagship AZ Forest program aims to plant the trees in western Kenya and was announced at COP28. The project builds on the company’s recent expansion of African reforestation initiatives in Ghana and Rwanda.
AstraZeneca unveils flagship AZ Forest program
AZ Forest Africa is a component of AstraZeneca’s broader commitment to plant and maintain over 200 million trees across six continents by 2030, recognizing the significant link between human and planetary health.
The reforestation project in Kenya will cover more than 3,500 hectares across six counties in the west of the country, adjacent to the Rift Valley. Notably, this project will be among the first to utilize an advanced AI deep learning model, analyzing drone footage and satellite imagery to monitor tree growth and health, while also quantifying carbon sequestration levels.
Designed using a science-based approach and harnessing new technological innovations, the program aims to promote long-term tree health, increase the biodiversity of flora and fauna, and generate an economic boost for local communities.
The role of nature-based solutions in addressing the climate-health crisis is a top agenda item at COP28, with the climate summit focusing on the progress made since the Glasgow Declaration of COP26 to end deforestation.
Addressing climate-health crisis
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 of Global Sustainability at 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 program, including 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 agro-economy. The project aims to engage more than 5,000 local farmers and community members, supporting a groundbreaking reforestation ambition from the Kenyan government.
Kenya’s goal to plant 15 billion trees
Her Excellency Rachel Ruto, the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya, said, “Climate change affects us all, and tackling it requires concerted action from governments, individuals, and businesses. 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 of Earthbanc, stated, “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.”
AstraZeneca eyeing Ghana, Rwanda in reforestation program
Aside from Kenya, AZ Forest’s global program, which aims to span 100,000 hectares worldwide, continues apace. In Ghana, almost three million trees have been planted this year, bringing the total to over four million since the project began in 2021. The project has engaged 1,200 farmers across 23 communities.
In Rwanda, 6,000 farming households have signed up for the project, and 16 community nurseries have been established to grow a range of indigenous and fruit tree species. Planting is set to commence in the coming months with a target to plant around 5.8 million trees across 21,000 hectares, marking one of the largest forest restoration initiatives in Rwanda.