When it comes to environmental protection one of the most important things is to protect and restore forests. With the mission to revitalize the economy of local communities and help them adapt to climate change, CFI organization is restoring local ecology. Benefitting People and Planet mission is supported also by FRAMOS and our colleague Kevin Mason, FRAMOS Account Manager, whose inspiring environmental story we bring.
Every summer in Canada thousands of people (often students between their semesters at school) travel to work camps deep in the back country to earn their next year’s rent or tuition by planting tree seedlings. Getting paid an average of 12 to 26 cents per tree, planters do the back-breaking work of reforesting lands that have been devastated by natural disasters or otherwise cut bare of trees by logging operations. I was one of these planters for 4 summers between 2014 and 2017, working in remote areas of Ontario and Alberta and it was during my first summer of planting that I was introduced to the work of Community Forests International (CFI).
CFI was founded when Canadian travelers met a community activist on Pemba Island (Tanzania) and, noticing that Pemba had suffered from severe deforestation, decided to use what they knew (forestry) to help the locals restore their habitat. Their thesis was simple: economic and social development must take place, but since it can’t do so in a degraded environment, the first step is to restore the local environment.
Operating with the understanding that the locals of Pemba Island knew best what they needed out of any reforestation effort (moreso than “experts” from another continent), the founders returned to Canada to collect the donations necessary to fund their first Pemban planting project. Thus was CFI born, with the mission to revitalize the economy of local communities and help them adapt to climate change by restoring local ecology.
Since their early days of planting small crops of trees in a handful of villages, CFI’s projects have grown in scope to include various reforestation and development projects in the Zanzibar Archipelago (of which Pemba is a part), Mozambique, and even back home in Canada. Today, guided by their mission, vision and values, CFI no longer only works in small villages on Pemba Island. They have spread their work to Mozambique and back home in Canada’s maritime provinces, where they work to restore forestland, promote “climate-smart” forest management, and foster carbon offset programs.
In the summer of 2014, I was working in a camp near the town of Longlac Ontario (a couple of hours north of Lake Superior) when representatives from CFI came to my camp. Every year, members of the organization (being former tree planters themselves) would tour tree planting camps to present their charity and their latest projects / achievements. After that, they would host a “Plant for Pemba” day where planters could choose to donate a portion of their day’s earnings to CFI.
I guess I wasn’t the only one who was inspired by their work, as most of the 50-or-so planters in my camp that year donated some if not all their day’s earnings. I donated the proceeds if my modest 1,400 seedlings planted that day (a below-average number for a planter in Ontario). Not to be outdone, other members donated their entire day’s earnings, and one planter even donated 3 entire days of his work.
I am inspired to see how CFI has grown from their early days, what they’ve been able to accomplish, and I’m eager to see where they go next. To that end, when FRAMOS asked employees for charitable donation recommendations, especially after the company’s leadership announced their push to build a new Net 0 Carbon factory, CFI is the first organization that came to my mind.