30 September 2022 – This Arbor Month, AstraZenca branched out to focus on the health of our environment. Embedded in this global pharmaceutical company’s approach to business is the desire to “build a sustainable future for people, society, and the planet”.
AstraZeneca is fulfilling this commitment through leading social development and sustainability organisation, Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA). The company donated funds towards FTFA’s tree-planting programme in 2022 in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State provinces. The funding equated to 500 trees being planted. Some of the tree-planting was also coupled with volunteer days in which AstraZeneca staff participated. FTFA’s tree-planting programme, Trees for All, is an award-winning programme that plants trees sustainably in shared spaces for a healthier, greener environment.
The importance of planting trees cannot be overstated. Trees are fundamental to life. In the midst of an escalating climate crisis, global pandemics, and social unrest, holistic investments in a better future must include creating green infrastructure. Trees are a part of South Africa’s natural heritage. They are an essential component of our indigenous knowledge and traditional medicine systems. Trees sequester atmospheric carbon, support our natural biodiversity, and play a critical role in flood management and soil rehabilitation.
To date, AstraZeneca has enabled the sequestration of 459.4 tonnes of CO² by planting 1245 trees. The tree-planting efforts have also uplifted and added value to various under-resourced communities:
- Hillside Primary School in Mitchells Plain, Western Cape was a beneficiary of 25 trees. The trees were planted in May 2022 at an event facilitated by FTFA facilitators Michael Pierce, Tori Coldrey and Nomalanga Ruiters. Eight AstraZeneca volunteers, 36 learners from the school Ecoclub and 5 educators welcomed the contribution of these trees to the school grounds.
- FTFA facilitators Bharathi Tugh and Sihle Dlamini facilitated a tree-planting at Lenham Primary School in Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal in August 2022. The students were dressed to commemorate the coronation of the new Zulu King. This year, the PomPon (Dais cotinifolia), is tree of the year and Bharathi Tugh used this symbolic tree in her demonstration.
- In the Eastern Cape, Phawu Agripak Cooperative was founded by two local educators who have dedicated their time and personal finances to ensure the success of their food garden. Phawu Agripak Cooperative is currently supported by FTFA through workshops on permaculture, business box training and plant material resources. The addition of 200 fruit and indigenous trees to this thriving project was highly impactful and appreciated by the project members working in the garden.
- Allen Glen High School in Roodepoort, Gauteng was the recipient of 25 trees and a volunteer day to plant them. FTFA facilitator Busi Wawa led the event at the school in September 2022 with 17 AstraZeneca volunteers, students and educators. Busi did a tree-planting demonstration with an indigenous African olive, (Olea Africana). The demo tree was initially named AstraZeneca but was later changed to AstraZ in remembrance of a learner who had passed away.
- Relebeletse Primary School in Bloemfontein, Free State has been one of FTFA’s long-standing projects and was grateful to receive a further 25 trees from AstraZeneca. FTFA facilitator Mookho Letshokgohla held a tree-planting workshop with children from the Ecoclub as a practical environmental education lesson.
Susan Evans, Events and Trees Distribution Manager at Food & Trees for Africa says, “FTFA thanks AstraZeneca for their proactive contribution, support and commitment towards a more sustainable and lower carbon future for all. The generous donation of 500 trees is contributing greatly to enhanced climate change alleviation and environmental awareness as well as a healthier environment for under-resourced communities.”
“This tree-planting initiative shows that the AstraZeneca and Food & Trees for Africa partnership is a serious commitment to maintaining and promoting knowledge and skills about sustainable and healthy lifestyles and environments,” concludes Mrs J Kruger, Principal at Allen Glen High School.
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