Walking Our Common Ground
By Rebecca Jacobs, Posted on June 9, 2021
Community Forests International is excited to announce the launch of the Common Ground project.
A collaborative initiative between Community Forests International, The Ulnooweg Development Group, and The Nova Scotia Family Forest Centre, the Common Ground project seeks to mobilize citizen climate action in the rural Maritime region on the unceded territory of Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik peoples.
Over 80,000 rural forest owners in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island collectively manage over 4.2 million hectares (40%) of Canada’s critically endangered Wabanaki-Acadian Forest. Together, we believe these citizen forest owners can achieve globally significant greenhouse gas reductions and locally significant climate adaptation outcomes. However, many family forest owners face several barriers to taking climate action with forests including access to knowledge, expert and community role models, and practical tools.
“We learned early on that if you want to restore forests, the first thing you have to do is listen to the people who are most closely connected to that forest. People can be a restorative force — when they’re supported.”
– Daimen Hardie, Executive Director
Drawing on both Indigenous Forest Knowledge and climate-smart forest management, we aim to build a community for climate-smart forestry, learning from key experts, and creating shared knowledge and storytelling.
The Wabanaki-Acadian Forest.
These special forests are a naturally diverse and fire-resistant ecosystem, making them especially carbon-dense and resilient. Unfortunately, less than 5% of this forest ecosystem remains in pre-colonial condition and the rates of clearcutting in the region are among the highest in the country. Intensive forestry methods have severely negative impacts on the climate, ecosystem health, and local biodiversity. But we know it doesn’t have to be this way.
Enabling family forest owners to practice climate-smart forestry that aligns with their ecological and intrinsic values can have huge climate benefits by improving carbon storage, enhancing forest biodiversity, and creating new economic opportunities for forest-dependent people and communities.
Diversity is resilience.
Rural private forest owners are diverse — including people who identify as Anglophone, Francophone, women, youth, and Indigenous. We understand that climate justice is critical to any effective climate action, and so this project aims to highlight under-represented perspectives and stories within our communities. From educational videos, podcasts, webinars, and digital toolkits, this project will offer wide-reaching awareness and education activities alongside more immersive hands-on training and networking.
By focusing on our common ground, this project will amplify Indigenous rights, relationships, and opportunities as they relate to the region’s forests. The aim is to strengthen understanding and allyship between Indigenous and settler forestry practitioners around issues of forest care and climate action, and to diversify approaches to climate action in the private forest sector which is currently dominated by settler knowledge and perspectives. Led by Ulnooweg, the Common Ground partnership seeks to share Indigenous experience and knowledge of the land, furthering holistic and ecosystem-based perspectives within forestry and forest communities.
Enabling family forest owners.
By transitioning their forests toward climate-smart practices and embracing nature-based climate solutions, family forest owners across the Maritimes can act on the ecological and intrinsic values they hold for their forests, protecting their forests for generations to come – all while increasing climate resilience at a global and local scale.
Stay tuned for more exciting news as we work together to protect and restore our Common Ground!
Common Ground is a collaboration between Community Forests International, The Ulnooweg Development Group, and the Nova Scotia Family Forest Centre and is supported by the Canadian Climate Action and Awareness Fund, The Catherine Donnelly Foundation, RBC Foundation, New Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund, and The Chawkers Foundation.