One of Australia’s largest-ever restoration projects launched to support bushfire recovery

Global pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, the Global EverGreening Alliance and Greening Australia today mark the official launch of a major project to plant 25 million trees across Australia – one of the largest-ever privately funded restoration projects in the country.

The project will cover approximately 20 000 hectares of land, equivalent to one-quarter of the city of Canberra in size, and create habitat for dozens of endangered species. Establishing 25 million trees will sequester approximately 4.25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over a 25-year crediting period, equivalent to the emissions produced by 920 000 cars running for an entire year.

The large-scale environmental project is a collaboration between AstraZeneca’s global initiative AZ Forest supported by partner One Tree Planted, and the Global EverGreening Alliance’s Restore Australia program, supported by Ark2030. All on-ground activity will be delivered by one of Australia’s largest environmental restoration organisations, Greening Australia.

The establishment of 25 million biodiverse and locally appropriate trees in locations that support threatened species and habitat connectivity represents a commitment by all partners to support Australia’s recovery following the devastation of the Black Summer bushfires.

The project will harness local knowledge and provide economic opportunities for Traditional Owners and rural communities through contracted works such as seed collection, planting and long-term stewardship. It is anticipated that the project could create as many as 890 jobs across regional locations over the next five years, engaging up to 150 Indigenous and non-Indigenous business subcontractors, seed suppliers and nurseries.

AstraZeneca Country President for Australia & New Zealand, Liz Chatwin says: “AZ Forest is a global partnership with One Tree Planted and national governments. This 50 million tree reforestation initiative will be rolled out over the next five years, and we are thrilled that half of those trees – 25 million – will be planted in Australia to support the regeneration of our land after the devastating bushfires of 2019-20.”

The project will create and preserve habitat for endangered species affected by the bushfires, prioritising the planting of fauna habitat species such as Eucalyptus punctata and Eucalyptus melliodora trees to increase access to food supply for the koala and regent honeyeater, whilst sheoak trees will create an important food supply for the threatened glossy black cockatoo. Vital habitat will be created for dozens of additional endangered species such as the sandhill dunnart, malleefowl, honey possum and black-gloved wallaby.

According to the Global EverGreening Alliance’s CEO, Chris Armitage: “This unique collaboration represents a major change in the way organisations are able to create impact by working together. Across the country, hundreds of organisations are aligning their efforts to scale-up the most effective land restoration practices. Together, through AZ Forest and the Restore Australia programme, we can build more sustainable and resilient farming systems and transform Australia’s degraded landscapes.”

Greening Australia CEO Brendan Foran says: “The devastation caused by the Black Summer bushfires this year exemplifies the need for restoration and regeneration of our local land at scale.  This landmark initiative allows Greening Australia to accelerate our work replenishing native and biodiverse trees to create environmental, community and economic impact. Following on from the federal government’s 20 Million Trees program, we are thrilled to continue delivering restoration projects of this scale with the additional support of private sector investment.”

The project will begin with the planting of 20 000 trees at Arthursleigh in the NSW Southern Highlands, supported by landholder The University of Sydney. Five million trees will be planted per year from 2021 in locations across Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania to reach a total of 25 million trees by 2025. An extensive monitoring and maintenance process will be in place beyond the initial five-year planting period, working with landholders to ensure ongoing stewardship.

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