Scaling up: AstraZeneca and Greening Australia to plant 3.26m trees in 2022

The largest-ever privately funded reforestation project in Australia has entered its second planting season, with growth in operations four-times the scale of year one and continuing to scale year on year.

In 2022, the project will see the restoration of over 3,500 hectares, planting 3.26 million trees across six priority regions and working with 39 landholders.

The project is a partnership between global pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, reforestation charity One Tree Planted, and environmental enterprise Greening Australia, with a commitment to plant 25 million biodiverse and locally appropriate trees across Australia by 2025, equivalent to one-quarter of the city of Canberra in size.

Planting lines from an AstraZeneca project site at Gondwana Link in Western Australia, demonstrating impact at scale. Credit: Jesse Collins.

Since its launch in September 2020, the project has planted 783,700 native trees across New South Wales (NSW), Victoria and South Australia (SA), restoring 1,003 hectares of land. All on-ground project design and delivery is completed by Greening Australia, using a multi-scale spatial prioritisation to target regions where restoration will best contribute to landscape connectivity, habitat provision and carbon sequestration, as well as addressing land degradation and productivity declines.

The large-scale environmental project is part of AstraZeneca’s global AZ Forest initiative to plant 50 million trees worldwide by 2025, facilitated by One Tree Planted. 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 very real need for reforestation, with the effects and devastation of the 2019 bushfires still being felt in our environmental ecosystem. We believe that 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 be partnering with Greening Australia to achieve real and significant outcomes in protecting our environment.”

Mesmerising direct seeding lines at an AstraZeneca project site in Victoria. Credit: Victorian Government Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Upon completion, the project will sequester approximately 4.25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over a 25-year crediting period. Plantings will also create much-needed habitat for dozens of threatened species. For example, the expansion of the project into Tasmania in 2022 will see iconic Australian animals including the Tasmanian Devil, Spotted-tail Quoll (both listed as endangered), and the vulnerable Eastern Barred Bandicoot supported through critical habitat restoration in the Midlands, a national biodiversity hotspot.

Greening Australia CEO Brendan Foran says partnerships like this one are key to addressing the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss via land restoration at scale:

“With the support of AstraZeneca on this landmark project, we’re able to scale up and speed up our restoration efforts. Planting 25 million biodiverse, locally appropriate trees across the country in five years requires an unprecedented level of planning and innovation, but we aren’t afraid of a challenge.

“This year the project is expanding into new locations, enabling us to help protect vulnerable and endangered wildlife through vital habitat restoration whilst continuing to create jobs and economic opportunities for Traditional Owners and rural communities. It is a prime example of the value of cross-sector partnerships and the growing participation of the private sector in tackling environmental challenges in Australia and around the world.”

Greening Australia and AstraZeneca staff members working together to plant trees on a 2022 project site in Tasmania. Credit: Adam Gibson.

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