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Top 50: Jeff Schnurr

Age: 25
Volunteers in: Africa
Category: International - Environment
Organization: Community Forests International


ABOUT THE CANDIDATE:
A Maritime native helps to restore the ecological world one tree at a time.

Jeff Schnurr doesn't believe in fate (as an activist he finds the concept of inevitability lame, literally), but he does believe in coincidence. Specifically, the right-place-at-the-right-time phenomenon.


Watch a profile of Jeff Schnurr
aired on CBC's Connect, December 21, 2010:

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It was quite by accident that the career tree planter found himself on Pemba, a tiny, tropical island off the coast of Tanzania, about the time a group of local fishermen expressed interest in tree planting as a means of stabilizing the local marine environment. It was 2007, and Schnurr seeded a tree-planting project on Pemba that has since spread its roots across the water to Tanzania. A year after returning to Canada from Africa, in 2008, Schnurr founded Community Forests International, an organization that aims to restore ecologically degraded areas all over the world.


Listen to a profile of Jeff Schnurr
by CBC Radio reporter Michael Leblanc:


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To date, Community Forests International has launched 14 community-owned projects in Tanzania, operated by 1,800 locals, 70 percent of them women. More than 200,000 trees have been raised and planted locally, providing both environmental healing and sustainable trade.

Tree planting has become Schnurr's mission. The 25-year-old Sackville, N.B.-native acts as Community Forests International's executive director, spending hours every week raising funds and rallying friends in support of his cause. Says his friend and colleague Daimen Hardie: "Jeff has been living in relative poverty for the last four years, devoting all his time and energy to volunteering for Community Forests International. He has often relied on odd jobs, making only enough money to scrape by so that he can continue pursuing his vision."

And vision is an apt word to describe what has, essentially, become Jeff Schnurr's lifework. "I was in India and a monk told me that planting trees was the highest form of virtue," says the self-effacing volunteer. "I think that's because tree planting is an act that transcends the individual. By planting a tree we contribute to a forest, and to the health and integrity of the entire planet, which sustains all life. The lifespan of a tree, and the perpetuity of a forest, allows the human individual to contribute to a better tomorrow."

Schnurr is now working hard to train other volunteers to add their efforts to his own--both in Tanzania and in Uganda, where a fledgling nursery effort is underway.

"We must rewrite the history of natural resource manipulation and focus on practices that provide for humanity while improving the natural world," says Schnurr. "The future will be written with saw or spade. In both farm or forest, we can work together to make conservation the consequence of production."
--Liza Finlay


HOW YOU CAN HELP:
FURTHER INFORMATION AND LINKS


To learn more about Community Forests International, visit their website at http://forestsinternational.org/



Français

NOM : Jeff Schnurr
ÂGE : 25 ans
LIEU DE BÉNÉVOLAT : Afrique
CATÉGORIE : International - Environnement
ORGANISATION(S) : Community Forests International

À PROPOS DU CANDIDAT :
Lorsque Jeff Schnurr de Sackville au Nouveau-Brunswick a mis les pieds sur la petite île tropicale de Pemba au large de la Tanzanie, il ne se doutait pas que sa vie était sur le point de basculer et de se faire convaincre qu’il pouvait changer le sort de l’humanité en devenant bénévole.
Lorsque les insulaires ont appris que Jeff, âgé de 25 ans, était un planteur d’arbres du Canada, un groupe de pêcheurs soucieux du stress que subissait leur environnement marin lui ont demandé comment ils pouvaient empêcher la dégradation de leur écosystème. Rapidement, Jeff a vu que la plantation d’arbres permettrait non seulement de restaurer l’intégrité écologique de l’île, mais aussi qu’on pourrait ensuite se servir des arbres pour alimenter en bois l’industrie de la construction et les marchés locaux.
Avant de rentrer au Canada, Jeff a contribué à mettre sur pied un projet communautaire de plantation d’arbres. Il n’était pas sitôt rentré au pays qu’il a ressenti un besoin irrépressible d’aller poursuivre son travail sur place. Il a donc convaincu son employeur, une société forestière canadienne, de donner l’équipement nécessaire à la plantation et a ainsi financé son voyage de retour en Tanzanie. Il a ensuite fondé une ONG internationale et un organisme de charité appelé Community Forests International (CFI). CFI a mis en œuvre des projets de plantation communautaires appartenant à des intérêts locaux dans 14 communautés tanzaniennes, auxquels contribuent 1 800 personnes, dont 70 % sont des femmes. Ces projets contribuent à restaurer des zones écologiquement appauvries et procurent un commerce durable aux petits villages. Plus de 200 000 arbres élevés dans des pépinières communautaires ont été plantés à ce jour.
Daimen Hardie, ami de Jeff et bénévole auprès de CFI, a proposé la candidature de Jeff comme champion du changement. Il explique que depuis la fondation de CFI, Jeff a à peine réussi à réunir l’argent nécessaire pour continuer à mettre en œuvre sa vision. « Même s’il ne l’admettra jamais, a-t-il ajouté, plusieurs personnes dans l’entourage de Jeff sont convaincues qu’il pourrait faire fortune s’il mettait son intelligence et son énergie au profit de projets servant des fins personnelles. »

COMMENT AIDER : RENSEIGNEMENTS ET LIENS
Pour en apprendre davantage au sujet de Community Forests International, visitez le site Web à http://forestsinternational.org/.

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