Battling Climate Change One Tree At A Time: Zach Melanson shares the work of Community Forests International

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In This Episode

Climate change is an issue that is and will continue to affect us. One New Brunswick based company is looking at this challenge head on to find solutions that protect the environment, but maintain our ability to access resources. Zach Melanson of Community Forests International joins us in the booth to tell us about their company’s journey from re-foresting an island to giving businesses the ability to offset their carbon footprint by protecting land here in New Brunswick.

Episode Highlights

2:00 Zach introduces himself and explains Community Forests International who works communities adapt to climate change

2:35 Zach explains how the idea started in a tree planting plant in Ontario

3:57 Zach explains how he was inspired by his friend Jeff Schnurr’s project to reforest Pemba Island

5:46 Greg explains his experience of deforestation in Haiti related to the need to use fire to heat their food.

6:19 Zach talked to the impacts that resource pressures had on deforestation and how they try to take a holistic view to their projects.

7:13 Going in to a situation and saying you have a solution, it’s a solution, it’s a problem. Zach speaks to the need to have humiliate and accept that they weren’t the experts.

7:50 Zach shares how they were able to work with a local woman who had a better performing stove to help facilitate the growth of using that method versus the more traditional stoves.

9:00 Dave asked about how they tie their business into New Brunswick and how the experience they have else where ties back to what they do other places.

9:25 Zach speaks to how the business grew and how their early success in Pemba made them realize anything is possible.

10:25 Dave asks about New Brunswick based projects

10:30 Zach tells how for a long time they would find connections through a grapevine effect of what would be possible in New Brunswick and learn everything they need to know about forests in New Brunswick.

11:46 Zach says what we have right now is trees and how his friend Dale, challenges us to think about trees as a new technology.

12:40 Zach speaks to his frustration of how we talk about climate change and how we just need to make change and everyone’s lives will get better.

13:30 Dave asks Zach to expand on ideas like carbon forestry and how they are creating opportunities

13:50 Zach says our two resources are people and our forests.

14:18 The Acadian forest is endangered forest type. It has a low incidence of burning because of the diversity and moist climate.

14:55 We have a unique opportunity because we have trees and not every where in the world has them. They are a carbon vacuum.

15:20 The world is starting to value what trees can do before they are cut.

15:50 As an organization, they want to help rural communities be healthy and forests to be healthy

16:25 For them they value both of these aspects and aren’t looking for solutions that puts one above the other to find a solution that benefits people and environment

17:04 Zach explains Carbon Forestry as a way to protect forests and put them under forest management. They manage how much can be cut and the carbon value that forests give.

17:50 Greg explains his involvement in the project and the B-Corp connection to it and how this project allows his company, Hemmings House, to off-set their carbon footprint as a company.

19:38 Greg explains to how Hemmings House is tracking their airfare and their carbon footprint and Community Forests International is able to give them a figure of what investment they should make in order to offset that use.

20:50 Zach explains how it’s a new initiative and how the leadership that companies like Hemmings House protects is a new way of getting involved.

21:57 Zach explains how there is a 95% chance that when land changes hand from old to young that the forest will be clear cut.

22:50 Dave asks what exactly what people purchase from Community Forests International

23:15 Greg explains how it’s more of an investment in the management of the property but CFI continues to manage the land.

24:00 What people are really doing are protecting the forests by putting a conservation easement on the properties.

24:42 Part of these agreements is a harvest of the forests, but in a managed way.

25:00 Dave mentions Matthew Mclean and explains his experience of walking through a clear cut forest vs a managed forest

26:00 Dave says how it’s amazing how these aspects can be done by still creating profit.

26:27 Greg mentions how Craig Norris directed a film to tell the story our of Pemba

26:51 Zach explains how the film has won 7 awards across 35 film festivals and has been picked up by National Geographic.

You can see the film here: https://forestsinternational.org/campaign/islands-of-hope

27:51 Film is currently at 200,000 views mark.

28:11 Zach is most proud of the fact that in Tanzania it was picked up by 3 national broadcasters and reached an audience of 2.5 million people there.

29:02 Zach explains how to get in touch and get involved.

Zachary Melanson

Zachary Melanson

Communications Director

Co-Founder, and chief storyteller at Community Forests International, Zach works across the organization to bring the stories, ideas, and experiences from the grassroots fight against climate change to a wider audience. Photographer by training and tree planter by trade, Zach leads the ‘Plant for Pemba’ movement of Canadian tree planters driving climate change innovation in Zanzibar. He also recently produced the award-winning documentary Kokota: The Islet of Hope – the story of how one man sparked an island-wide movement to adapt and thrive in the face of climate change. 

Company website: https://forestsinternational.org

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