PUTRAJAYA: The launch of Nestle’s reforestation initiative, Project ReLeaf, will see the food and beverage manufacturer planting three million trees in Malaysia over the next three years.
The trees will be planted across the Kinabatangan Wetlands and Merisuli Forest Restoration areas in Sabah, as well as in forest reserves along the Central Forest Spine in Peninsular Malaysia – which provide sanctuary for a great diversity of flora and fauna, including threatened wildlife such as orangutans, proboscis monkeys, Asian elephants, Malayan tigers, sun bears and tapirs.
Forming part of the company’s global pledge to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, Project ReLeaf builds on its pioneering Kinabatangan RiLeaf Project, which it established in 2011 in partnership with Yayasan Sime Darby and the Sabah Forestry Department (JPS) to help plant one million trees in Sabah.
By widening its reach in Sabah and expanding for the first time to Peninsular Malaysia, the project seeks to scale up Nestle’s efforts to restore riparian and forest ecosystems, contributing to establish wildlife corridors and mitigate human-animal conflict, as well as protecting critical water supplies.
It also aims to help develop greater awareness among local communities on environmental topics, alongside providing additional sources of income to improve their livelihoods.
Nestle SA executive vice president and zone Asia, Oceania and sub-Saharan Africa chief executive officer (CEO) Chris Johnson said, “We are mindful of the urgent need to address climate change, which is a threat to the sustainability of our business as well as for the planet’s future.
“Project ReLeaf will enable us to accelerate our net-zero ambition by scaling up nature-based solutions to tackle this global climate issue. Not only will Project ReLeaf enhance biodiversity, but it will subsequently help to absorb carbon emissions.
“Planting trees in areas connected with the sourcing of our ingredients contributes to the responsible management of our supply chain. Furthermore, reforestation complements our efforts to halt deforestation in our supply chains.”
The project, launched by Energy and Natural Resources (KeTSA) Minister Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah and Nestle (Malaysia) Bhd CEO Juan Aranols on Sept 21, will see Nestle collaborating with various public and private organisations and different communities.
Among those it will be working with include the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry, the JPS, the Malaysian Nature Society, the Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre, the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project, palm growers, as well as local communities and entrepreneurs for community-based seedling production and tree-planting operations.
“Nestle’s pledge to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 reflects our ambition to contribute to a greener future. Project ReLeaf, here in Malaysia, is a tangible step towards helping us realise this ambition.
“By restoring critical forest ecosystems, we will help to preserve ecosystems and protect biodiversity. These are vital to ensure supply chain sustainability while protecting the environment, as both elements are interconnected in nature.
“That will enable us to continue making a positive impact for both the planet and for people, as we will continue to empower local communities and support livelihoods via purchasing of seedlings and their involvement in planting activities,” said Aranols.
Dr Shamsul added, “Malaysia has been blessed with abundant natural resources. We are committed to maintain at least 50% of the country’s land area with forest and tree cover, in line with our pledge at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
“As our nation develops, we must balance our growth with the conservation of our environment. As such, we are truly appreciative of Nestle’s committed efforts to protect our nation’s biodiversity.
“We hope to see more public and private sector collaborations to continue protecting our precious ecosystem for future generations.”