Catalyst: Community Forests International

Community Forests International is a New Brunswick-based environmental non-profit, working to connect people and their communities to the forests that sustain them.

One hectare of mature forest can absorb 6.4 tons of CO2 per year. That’s about the same amount of carbon as a mid-size car emits over 30,000 kilometres. However, forests can also emit carbon into the atmosphere through fires, natural decomposition and logging.

All across the world, trees are being clear-cut and irresponsibly managed. Community Forests International (Forests Intl.) started in 2008 as a project to plant trees on Pemba Island in Zanzibar, off the coast of east Africa. Since then, Forests Intl. has expanded to become an “enterprising charity” or start-up, focussing on connecting people in rural communities to the forests that sustain them.

The founders, Jeff Schnurr, Daimen Hardie and Zach Melanson—all from the Maritimes—have become champions for stewarding forests for the economic benefit of their home province of New Brunswick. Putting a price on carbon is key. For rural communities, carbon pricing can bring in millions in extra revenue and good jobs.

Forests Intl. has established the Ecosystem Collective, a network of people and companies that put fighting climate change at the core of their mission, and develops a sharable playbook for lowcarbon business development. The Collective will:

• accelerate efforts to develop low-carbon business solutions in Atlantic Canada

• help coordinate regional efforts to create a green economy that will have a greater collective impact than if individuals or groups worked in silos or alone.

The Collective, unlike a traditional incubator or accelerator, will retain supported businesses as members. Accommodating diverse members, including self-employed individuals, partnerships, limited companies, and non-profits, the Collective can be the backbone of a thriving business community in Atlantic Canada united behind the goal of creating job opportunities and prosperity while rising to the challenge of climate change.


McConnell supported Community Forests International with a grant of $100K through the Social Innovation Fund.

Read an interview with the founders of Community Forests International

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