How Change Begins

by Community Forests International on October 3, 2013

Empowered Pembans make their own change.

Community Forests International incubates ideas and the innovation grows. Several individuals working together can change a landscape. In 2006, Canadian tree-planter Jeff Schnurr was living on the island of Pemba, Tanzania. Most Pembans were amazed that the twenty-one year old Canadian could make a living planting trees but believed that tree-planting was something they could never achieve on their own island. Mbarouk Mussa Omar was different. In 2007, Mbarouk approached Jeff and asked if he thought that Pembans could plant trees. The duo began traveling to rural villages in order to gauge interest. Some communities didn’t want to move away from traditional mainstays of fishing and sustenance agriculture, but some villages did. Some villages wanted to halt eroding coastlines while others wanted to plant trees for timber or fruit. With limited financial support, seven villages began collecting seed and growing trees within simple nurseries built from locally available materials and Community Forests International was born. In 2008 over 100,000 trees were planted and the Pemban landscape began to transform. “We started with an idea and then worked each and every day with nothing. We had no vehicle, no office and no funds but still we worked to support our community. Each village picked the trees they wanted to grow and we supported them to find the seeds.” - Mbarouk Mussa Omar, Co-founder and Pemba Director, Community Forests International If you'd like to support our campaign to share our work with the world please visit

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