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Canada ยป Conservation

Can conservation help us transition to sustainable prosperity?

In Canada, environmental conservation is often pitted against economic development. Job creation is used as an excuse to reduce the size of conservation zones. Reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions are said to threaten our economy. In Pemba, Tanzania things are different - communities have learned to make a living conserving the environment. Land and resources are maintained for future generations while also providing for present needs. Communities plant trees for timber and conservation. Conservation is the consequence of how Pembans live and work on the land.

At Community Forests International we walk the middle ground between conservation and economic growth. We believe that the planet is already full and we need to learn how to live in balance with its natural systems. Although there is immense value in simply preserving wild nature, humans must also find a way to make a living off the land without jeopardizing clean air, fresh water, wildlife habitat and healthy forests.

That’s why we saved Whaelghinbran Farm. Our mentors, Clark Phillips and Susan Tyler, pioneered restoration forestry and organic agriculture on this iconic New Brunswick property for over 40 years; making a living while conserving and restoring the land. The fields at Whaelghinbran produce healthy organic vegetables to this day without fail, and Clark and Susan’s careful management has sped up forest growth by 30 years. At the risk of losing their life’s work in old age, Clark and Susan offered Whaelghinbran Farm to CFI in 2012. We jumped at the chance to save their legacy and carry forward an invaluable model of working land conservation. Their example demonstrates that humans can actually have a positive impact on the environment; that the present generation can live and work on the land while improving it for future generations.

Community Forests International worked tirelessly to raise the funds necessary to purchase Whaelghinbran Farm, and has now transformed the property into a hands-on education and demonstration site. Whaelghinbran has hosted hundreds of visitors, apprentices and workshop participants to date. CFI raises certified organic vegetables in the fields, and uses traditional horse logging practices to encourage diversity and regrowth in the forest.  We hope to continue demonstrating how people can make a living off the land without sacrificing environmental conservation.  It's a legacy left to us by our mentors and a model shared with our friends in Pemba – and we believe it is this middle path that will bring communities and economies into balance with the natural world.