Telstra has announced it would conduct a technology trial to plant and manage the reforestation of 240 hectares of land at Yarrowyck in northern NSW, to store greenhouse gas emissions and improve environmental resilience of the land.
The trial will see Telstra plant around 158,000 native trees and shrubs, which is expected to store approximately 160,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 25 years.
This project – located within the traditional lands of the Anaiwan, Kamilaroi/Gomeroi First Nations peoples – will restore the land to its natural state and build resilience in the landscape to better withstand exacerbated drought and flood conditions in the future. But we don’t have the 65,000 years of ecological wisdom that could enable the full potential of this project to be realised. Our aspiration is to work with Traditional Owners to bridge this gap.
The project will also contribute to an important wildlife corridor between the Gwydir River and the Northern Tablelands. Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said the initiative was the next step in the company’s actions to address climate change.
“The climate change threat is escalating, and we are seeing the devastating consequences here and around the world. Urgent action is needed, and our ambition has to reflect the enormity of the challenge,” Penn said.
Technology will play an important role in the project. Telstra is working with company AirSeed to explore seed planting using aerial drones and using its own Internet of Things (IoT) capability to monitor environmental conditions and weather predictions.
“Other technologies we intend to explore include the use of robotics and artificial intelligence to improve pest and weed management, and drones and sensors to monitor tree health and calculate the carbon stored in trees,” Penn said.
“The trial also includes a partnership with Melbourne start-up Bardee to explore the use of a probiotic fertiliser produced by maggots to avoid methane emissions otherwise arising from food waste decay.”
Penn said as one of the largest energy users in the nation, Telstra has a responsibility to play a leadership role in reducing its own impact, but also in helping others to act.
“Through the use of technology, we are investing in innovative land management methods to accelerate carbon sequestration at scale. This could potentially benefit other sectors such as agri-business.
“This is a first for any Australian telco and we are hopeful the initiative and technologies we are piloting will help other companies increase their involvement in the Australian carbon market.”
The reforestation pilot is part of Telstra’s broader Environment Strategy, which includes an ambition to enable renewable energy generation equivalent to 100 per cent of its energy consumption by 2025 and reduce its absolute scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 50 per cent by 2030.