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TELUS employees participating in shoreline cleanup activities across Canada.Provided

As a British Columbian, Rachel Mackay has seen firsthand the effects of climate change with things such as wildfires and deforestation. “I’m an avid outdoor recreational enthusiast,” says Mackay, manager, business development, environment, for Vancouver-based TELUS Communications Inc. “Living in an area where forests are a big part of my life, it’s inspiring that I get to work in this space.”

Mackay leads business development and strategy enablement on the company’s environmental solutions team, working on initiatives to build solutions for protecting and enhancing nature.

“Right now, our team is focused on nature-based carbon solutions, so utilizing nature to help mitigate climate change,” says Mackay. “Currently, we’re doing that in the green carbon space through tree planting, which has had an incredible response from both team members and customers. We’ve been planting trees for multiple initiatives – like on behalf of our team members when they hit a career milestone, or for team-building events. We’re even integrating tree planting into product campaigns for customers.”

As part of its mission to become a zero-waste, carbon-neutral company by 2030, TELUS has just passed its goal of planting one million trees and continues to expand its tree planting to support the well-being of forests. The company recently expanded its tree planting efforts through the acquisition of Shakti, an environmentally driven reforestation company specializing in site preparation, seed collection, tree sourcing and tree planting.

“TELUS is also looking to innovate by leveraging some of our core competencies and bringing them to this new space to see how we can help,” says Mackay. “It’s important for us to learn and uncover what 5G connectivity and drone technology can do for nature.

“When you think about typical forests, oceans or remote areas, there often isn’t connectivity in those places. But if you bring in connectivity, you can have real-time data, closer monitoring capabilities and increased safety and engagement with stakeholders. There’s ample opportunity to find new ways to help protect and regrow our forests.”

Geoff Pegg, head of sustainability, says digitizing the forestry sector is part of the company’s ambition to decarbonize its operations, but also to offer solutions for customers and communities on how they can help decarbonize, particularly through the carbon capture that trees provide.

“We’re committed to helping our customers achieve their own environmental goals by building an end-to-end suite of innovative digital forestry solutions,” says Pegg. “We’re all in this together, and together is how we can make a real difference for future generations to come.”

Pegg says tree planting has resonated so much with people, there has been a huge uptick in team members wanting to organize tree planting events as part of their volunteer time.

“We have a lot of passionate team members who want to make our planet more sustainable,” says Pegg, who participated in a tree planting just south of Edmonton last August. “Around 30 of us went out to do a tree plant which included a learning session on how and why we plant trees.

“On that day we planted 1,000 spruce trees in a few hours,” he says. “It was loads of fun and a memorable experience for everyone.”

Pegg is confident that TELUS will reach its carbon-reduction goals by 2030.

“Our team is determined,” he says. “We have lots of plans and programs in place to reduce our environmental impacts, particularly greenhouse gas emissions, not only operationally but also in our value chain. In fact, we issued Canada’s first sustainability-linked bond in June 2021. We’re putting our money where our mouth is. Yes, we’re gonna make it!”

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Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.

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