AstraZeneca Commits $71 M To Meghalaya's Forestry Project

The funding is part of its global forest programme, under which it has committed to plant 200 million trees across six continents by 2030, the company said in a statement on Monday
According to latest government estimates,  agriculture sector (including forestry and fishing) is expected to grow at 3.5 per cent in the present fiscal
According to latest government estimates, agriculture sector (including forestry and fishing) is expected to grow at 3.5 per cent in the present fiscal

European drug major AstraZeneca has announced a USD 71 million funding to plant and maintain an estimated 64 million plants and trees in the country, primarily in the ecologically fragile Meghalaya.

The funding is part of its global forest programme, under which it has committed to plant 200 million trees across six continents by 2030, the company said in a statement on Monday.

The company will implement the restoration programme in collaboration with Earthbanc, Earthtree, Worldview Impact India and the Hill Farmers Shiitake Mushroom Coop Society on the Meghalaya Reforestation and Sustainable Livelihoods Project called the Regeneration Meghalaya -- a 30-year regenerative horticulture and agriculture project in the northeastern state.

About 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.

The project aims to help Meghalayan farmers restore 22,670 hectares in the state, supporting biodiversity and soil conservation, as well as climate and catchment health co-benefits.

The other benefits include helping farmers do sustainable farming and agroforestry with non-timber commodities, including essential oils and food that align with the Meghalaya aromatics policy, and crop management that aligns with the organic and natural farming policy.

Biophysical indicators such as biomass, soil organic carbon, land productivity and land cover will be monitored, in alignment with the UNCCD land degradation neutrality global mechanism, of which the government of India is a key signatory.

The project will be the largest in a network of the 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, the CBA and AstraZeneca, said Juliette White, a vice-president for global sustainability at AstraZeneca.

"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," she added.

According to Tom Duncan, the chief executive of Earthbanc, Meghalaya in particular and India in general have impressive policies and programmes.

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, Louise Baker, Managing Director of the global mechanism of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, said.

Alex Ellis, the British high commissioner to India, said protecting, restoring, and sustainably managing nature is an important element of India's ambitious carbon sink target and was a priority for England at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

Addressing climate change requires action from us all, everywhere, from companies to governments to citizens.

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