AstraZeneca has partnered with the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance (CBA) and local partners to establish the first ‘Living Lab’ in Ghana.
The community-led project aims to plant 4.5 million trees by the end of 2025, with the aim for over three million surviving trees, and establish circular business models for local communities.
A statement issued by the company in Accra on Friday said in projects co-designed with local stakeholders, the programme would restore 2,500 hectares of dry and savannah forest and demonstrate the benefits of biodiversity regeneration to the local economy, through the creation of local jobs and training programmes.
“This initiative is a new addition to the AZ Forest programme which aims to plant and maintain 50 million trees worldwide by 2025, while making a positive contribution to communities and local economies,” it said.
It said “The natural forested land in the Atebubu and Wiasedistricts in central Ghana has been subject to degradation and habitat change due to heavy encroachment by farmers and tree cutting for charcoal. Local communities face challenging economic conditions and a deteriorating natural environment.”
“Integrating both traditional knowledge and innovative farming methods, the projects in Atebubu and Wiase place the local communities at the heart of landscape restoration. The programme will combine natural forest restoration, agroforestry and woodlots, benefiting people, society and planet, through enhanced biodiversity, improved soil and local air quality, protected watersheds, improved livelihoods through employment in tree nurseries and the timber value chain and the creation of nature-based business models for smallholder farmers, ” it said.
Project planting began in August 2021, with an initial trial of 100,000 trees. Further planting will take place over the next four years, beginning in May this year.
Jason Snape, Head of Environmental Protection, AstraZeneca, said “At AstraZeneca, we are committed to helping to restore forests for the health of people, society and the planet. The Living Lab in Ghana is a unique public-private partnership working with local communities to build social and ecological resilience, while inspiring action towards a circular bio-economy. As part of our AZ Forest programme, we are proud to support the restoration of biodiversity and local livelihoods.”
Marc Palahi, Circular Bio-economy Alliance Chair, said “With the support of AstraZeneca, we have co-designed and are implementing forest actions based on sound scientific evidence and inclusive dialogue, creating public-private-community partnerships to foster ecological and community resilience in central Ghana.”
Barbara Nel, African Cluster (SA, SSA, FSA) Country President at AstraZeneca, said “Our commitment to Africa extends beyond our medicines and health access programmes. Through our AZ Forest programme in Ghana, in partnership with the CBA and in collaboration with government, we are firmly committed to supporting a healthy environment and improving socioeconomic development and livelihoods for Ghanaians.”
BY KINGSLEY ASARE