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E-document incentive helps reforestation.

In an applaudable initiative, investor services and stakeholder communications company Computershare has conceived a scheme to save costs and encourage the redirection of mountains of documentation into nationally significant reforestation projects. By choosing to receive company documents electronically, Australian shareholders will now have trees planted on their behalf by Landcare.

Computershare and scheme partner Landcare Australia recently unveiled eTree--the Country's first environmental incentive scheme to link shareholders from multiple companies with specific Landcare reforestation projects across Australia.

Every time a shareholder registers for eTree, a donation of $2, paid by participating listed companies, will be made to Landcare to go towards specified landscape change reforestation projects in the shareholder's State or Territory. Computershare, which manages the share registers of some 60 per cent of Australia's listed entities, will collect the donated funds and pass them on to Landcare to help reforestation of selected sites.

Computershare's Chief Executive Officer, Chris Morris, said the company was in a unique position to help facilitate this important environ mental initiative. 'The cost to companies in producing and mailing large quantities of paper documents, such as annual reports and statements, is significant from a financial perspective and considerable in environmental terms,' he said.

'The eTree initiative gives Australian companies a way to contribute to a more sustainable way of doing business, while offering a significant environmental incentive to shareholders.'

According to Computershare, its Australian-listed clients alone churn through a minimum of 180 million sheets of paper per year based solely on essential shareholder mailings.

Landcare Australia Chief Executive, Brian Scarsbrick, said 'I congratulate Computershare for bringing together stone of Australia's biggest companies to co-operate in large-scale environmental improvements.'

'For every $2 donation, using direct seeding innovations, local project management methods and the assistance of volunteers, landowners, technologists and practitioners, four trees could be established in major landscape projects across Australia,' Mr Scarsbrick said.

'If only 10 per cent of all Australian shareholdings were registered for the eTree program, that could equate to some 13 million trees or nearly 22 000 hectares of forest.'

Some of the initial projects earmarked for funding under the eTree initiative include the nationally significant Murray-Darling Basin box-ironbark belt in Queensland, New South Wales, ACT and South Australia; Grow West at Bacchus March in Victoria; parts of rural and coastal Tasmania and; the salinity affected parts of south-western Western Australia. Funding will also go to wetlands projects, such as the McKenzie Biosphere Reserve in Western Australia, and, provisionally, some New Zealand projects.

The eTree initiative is backed by 14 foundation members, representing 5.5 million shareholdings. These include telecommunications giant Telstra; financial services companies AMP and its UK associate HHG; ANZ; AXA; E*TRADE; Macquarie Bank; retailers Coles Myer and Woolworths; transport infrastructure group Transurban; grain industry and agribusiness leader AWB; resources groups BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, and Computershare.

The eTree incentive scheme is open to all listed companies and information is available at
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Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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