Member Spotlight: Community Forests International

Community Forests International (CFI) was born after co-founder Jeff Schnurr returned from living on the small island of Pemba, Tanzania where he was asked by Mbarouk Mussa Omar if tree planting could be done in Pemba as in Canada. Out of this question a solution was created – in 2008 a group of young Canadian tree planters, set out to create innovative change to combat the climate crisis effecting some of our world’s most vulnerable communities. CFI in collaboration with their sister NGO – Community Forests Pemba – work together to foster environmental stewardship internationally by establishing community forests, promoting sustainable forestry techniques and initiating environmental education.

The organization believes that the planet is full and we need to re-learn how to live in balance with its natural systems. By walking the middle ground between conservation and economic growth CFI is communicating and teaching how to live in harmony with the natural world we all depend on. 

CFI’s sister NGO in Pemba, Tanzania – Community Forests Pemba (CFP) – is headed by Mbarouk Omar. With the guidance from CFP, Pemba is now becoming the leading example of how to battle climate change. The organizations have developed innovative projects that help rural communities adapt to climate change, including tree-planting, agroforestry, small-scale gardening, rainwater harvesting and renewable energy.

What’s going on at CFI

First place winner, AW+ - Exterior perspectiveCFI’s Backwoods Cabin of the future contest has just ended with the 1st place winner ‘Be a Part of Nature’ announced. The winning design was developed by German architecture firm AW+, and with over 60 worldwide submissions, CFI is now working to implement the design on site at the Rural Innovation Campus in rural New Brunswick. The winning design and the competition are working to bring attention to the environmental impact that our buildings have, urging architects on a global level to adopt green building techniques.

CFI’s Colleague at CFP – Agricultural Officer Siti Bakar Makame – was recently in Rotterdam for the 4th International Climate Change Adaptation Conference where she spoke about empowering female farmers, combatting poverty and inequality and creating new innovative approaches to food production. Siti has provided much needed information and experience about these current issues, highlighting particularly on the success of her kitchen gardens. These home gardens have shown to improve access to sustainable food sources as well as provide additional income for families. 

Mbarouk Omar, CFPOn Thursday June 2 the head of CFI’s partner NGO CFP Mbarouk Omar landed in Canada to meet and discuss the future of CFI and CFP’s work. This trip will help CFI and CFP continue to grow and learn from each other and while fostering positive change in both local and international environments. Mbarouk Mussa Omar also presented at ACIC’s Symposium and AGM – Looking Back and Moving Forward on the panel. To view Mbarouk Omar’s contribution to the panel discussion, please visit the ACIC website here.

Getting Involved with CFI

Members of the community can keep updated through CFI’s Facebook page – Community Forests International – to see upcoming events, news, and more. This summer CFI will be hosting a number of ‘volunteer days’ to aid the building of the ‘Rural X Cabin.’ Their Facebook page and website (below) will be continuously updated to promote any other future events or workshops CFI plans on hosting.

If you’re interested in keeping up with CFI, check them out at:

Website: forestsinternational.org/

Facebook: Community Forests International

Twitter: @pembatrees or @CanadaTrees