Partnering with farmers across Pemba Island, Forests Intl. begins innovating a method of growing spice like a forest. Picture a jungle of trees and vines all producing valuable spices – things like cinnamon, black pepper, vanilla, cardamom – and you get the idea. The approach is better for the land, the farmers, and the climate.
Instead of growing to 100 employees, Forests Intl. begins growing its impact by helping to create other organizations, companies, and cooperatives that share its mission: to fight climate change by empowering rural communities to thrive with nature.
After years of hardwork and perserverence, Forests Intl. helped several communities across Pemba Island gain legal title to the lands they rely on. Ownership of land provides these communities with the security and empowerment they need to build truly sustainable farms, forests, and livelihoods.
Forests Intl. adds new buildings, 7 kms of forest trails, a permaculture orchard, and regenerative cropping systems to the Canadian Rural Innovation Campus in partnership with a growing community of rural innovators.
Imagine if the solutions to climate change came from the people who need them most. Forests Inlt. believes that rural communities have what it takes to innovate solutions for a better tomorrow. The Rural Innovation Campus was constructed on Pemba island to allow practitioners from East Africa and beyond to share their knowledge through hands-on demonstration. This rural “hacker space” grows good ideas and follows Forest Intl.’s core belief: communities can make their own change.
Forests Intl. begins hosting crowd-sourced architecture competitions bringing together visionary designers, artists, green builders and DIYers from around the world. Winning entries are constructed at the organization's 250 hectare farm and forest outside of Sussex, New Brunswick as the first step in establishing a Canadian Rural Innovation Campus inspired by the sister facility in Tanzania.
After developing rainwater harvesting systems on the islets of Kokota and Uvinje, Forests Intl. asked an important question. Tree planting was an act for the future, but what about the present? Many rural communities have no access to electricity so the group began working to build solar energy systems capable of powering entire communities.
Forests Intl. communities plant their one millionth tree on Pemba Island.
The community on a small islet off the coast of Pemba named Kokota wanted to plant trees, but had one major problem. They had no water. Not for drinking, not for cooking and not for washing. Because all the wells they’d dug had produced only salt water, Kokotans were travelling 4 hours by boat to collect drinking water from Pemba. Forests Intl. supported Kokota to build a school and then used the school’s roof to direct rainwater into a 250,000-liter tank - enough water for almost 200 days.
Clark Phillips and Susan Tyler of Whaelghinbran Farm had been practicing organic agriculture and restoration forestry for 40 years. After hearing about their work, the young Forests Intl. team began mentoring with Clark and Sue to learn about conservation-based living. Advanced in their years, Clark and Sue could no longer work the land and needed to sell their property to retire. Other properties in the area were being bought and clear-cut, a reality no one wanted to face. By creating carbon offsets through the conservation and careful management of the land, Forests Intl. was able to purchase the property and begin the process of sharing the lessons of sustainable land-use through hands-on education and demonstration.
As a small island, Pemba is particularly vulnerable to climate change. To adapt, Forests Intl. communities began piloting new ways of living and working. The organizations began rolling out a new wave of projects including beekeeping, earth block building, permaculture kitchen gardening, agroforestry and effecient cooking stoves. These projects received funding from the European Union through the Global Climate Change Alliance in Tanzania.
Can we balance human caused emissions with the forests that can store them? To create a real and socially driven carbon solution, Forests Intl. began working with responsible businesses such as DIALOG to link the act of emitting carbon back to the forests and people that can store carbon. The organization believes that a Canadian problem needs a Canadian solution and it's carbon offsetting program puts this belief into action.
As the organizations grew, Community Forests International established an office in an old school house in Sackville, NB. Community Forests Pemba set-up an office of their own in Pemba. Teams in both countries began to expand.
In order to raise funds, CFI staff started a for-profit business called Community Forests Canada Inc. Community Forests Canada Inc conducts landscaping, trail building and environmental work and donates profits, materials, equipment and labour to CFI’s work in Canada and Pemba.
In 2009, the group wanted to make Pemba-style change at home and launched a workshop series in order to share the principles and practices of sustainable land use in Canada. This workshops series covers topics such as sustainable forestry, safe chainsaw use, native plant identification, permaculture, food forest gardening, beekeeping and timber framing.
In Pemba, communities began to manage planted forests for fruit and timber. Even though the end goal of planting trees was for environmental conservation and restoration, community members also need to make a living while caring for the planet.
Jeff teamed up with fellow Canadian tree-planters Daimen Hardie, Zach Melanson and Estelle Drisdelle to create an organization capable of supporting the growing tree-planting movement. Realizing that Tanzania efforts needed to be led by Tanzanians, the group helped their partners establish Community Forests Pemba, a locally owned and operated organization that works to make their own change. The two organization's work in partnership, as equals with a shared vision.
Pemban communities plant over 100,000 trees.
It all started when Jeff Schnurr was living on the island of Pemba, Tanzania. He had worked in Canada as a tree-planter and after several months of living within a Pemban community his Tanzanian friend, Mbarouk Mussa Omar asked him if they too could plant trees as he'd done in Canada.
Although he knew it was possible, Jeff also knew that he wasn't the expert. He worked with Mbarouk to build a local team of gardeners, tree growers and foresters and began traveling to rural villages to see if communities wanted to plant trees. With limited resources, the group managed to collect seed from natural forests, grow seedlings and plant trees for fruit, timber and conservation.
To foster environmental stewardship internationally by establishing community forests, promoting sustainable forestry techniques and initiating environmental education.