AstraZeneca Invests $71 Million In Meghalaya Reforestation Project

By Outlook Planet Desk December 06, 2023

An investment of $71 million seeks to support a 30-year regenerative project involving the plantation of 64 million trees, restoring land, and fostering sustainable livelihoods in India's Meghalaya region

AstraZeneca Invests $71 Million In Meghalaya Reforestation Project
'Regeneration Meghalaya' is a project and a commitment to plant hope, nurture sustainability, and grow a future where nature and agriculture thrive in harmony. Shutterstock

AstraZeneca, a global pharmaceutical company, has announced that it will invest $71 million in India to plant and maintain an estimated 64 million plants and trees as part of its global AZ Forest programme.

The company is collaborating with Earthbanc, Earthtree, Worldview Impact (India), and Hill Farmers Shiitake Mushroom Coop Society on the 'Meghalaya Reforestation and Sustainable Livelihoods Project' (Regeneration Meghalaya), a 30-year regenerative horticulture and agriculture project in the northeast.

The project aims to support farmers in restoring 22,670 hectares of land, supporting biodiversity and soil conservation, as well as climate and catchment health co-benefits. Many species will be suitable for farmers to sustainably produce agricultural and agroforestry non-timber commodities, including essential oils and foods that align with the State Government of Meghalaya Aromatics Policy and crop management that aligns with the Organic and Natural Farming Policy.

Around 200,000 trees have already been planted, and with the official project launch, soil and water conservation work is underway to enable further planting of millions of trees in 2024. Biophysical indicators such as biomass, soil organic carbon, land productivity, and land cover will be monitored in alignment with the UNCCD Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Global Mechanism, of which the Government of India is a key signatory.

The project will be the largest in a network of Circular Bioeconomy Alliance's (CBA) "Living Labs for Nature, People, and Planet". These connected initiatives follow a science-based framework for sustainable, resilient, and locally appropriate landscape regeneration co-developed by the European Forest Institute (EFI), the CBA, and AstraZeneca.

Juliette White, Vice President of Global Sustainability at AstraZeneca, said: "We're proud to be increasing tree cover worldwide through our global AZ Forest initiative and partnering with experts to ensure reforestation that supports local communities, climate action, human health, and nature.

As part of our commitment to plant and maintain 200 million trees by 2030 in India, our collaboration with Earthbanc will restore nature in a degraded biodiversity hotspot while supporting farming livelihoods."

Tom Duncan, Earthbanc CEO, said: "This large-scale regeneration project is a fascinating opportunity that we are pleased to support in collaboration with our partners.

We are impressed with the policies and programmes of the State Government of Meghalaya and the Government of India, and we see the AZ Forest initiative, with its focus on circular economy, as very positive for the climate, communities, ecosystem health, and a sustainable economy. We look forward to seeing this project launch and helping create a healthy planet together."

Louise Baker, Managing Director of the Global Mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), said: "This is a wonderful example of private sector leadership and joined-up thinking in land stewardship.

Earthbanc and its partners are simultaneously fighting climate change and delivering for people and the land. The project's strong focus on developing sustainable value chains that ensure farmers' livelihoods will also mean land degradation stops as land cover, productivity, and soil organic carbon all increase. Everyone benefits!"

Alex Ellis, British High Commissioner to India, said: "I congratulate AstraZeneca and everyone involved in their conservation of forests and biodiversity worldwide. Protecting, restoring, and sustainably managing nature are important elements of India's ambitious carbon sink target and are UK priorities at the COP28 climate summit.

Addressing climate change requires action from us everywhere, from companies to governments to citizens."Dr. Mazel Ampareen Lyngdoh said: "In the heart of Meghalaya, a green revolution is underway.

'Regeneration Meghalaya' is a project and a commitment to plant hope, nurture sustainability, and grow a future where nature and agriculture thrive in harmony. Let us join hands with these determined associations as we plant 64 million trees and plants across 22,000 hectares. Together, let us cultivate a legacy of abundance."