New Brunswick

Forest saved by volunteer group

A piece of the Acadian Forest near Sussex has been saved from industrial logging through the fundraising efforts of a volunteer group.

580 acres of Acadian Forest near Sussex will remain intact

Jeff Schnurr says the land will become a centre for education, where people can go to learn about sustainable farming and forestry. (Courtesy of CFI)

A piece of the Acadian Forest near Sussex has been saved from industrial logging by a volunteer organization.

Community Forests International raised more than $100,000 to preserve 580 acres of woodland.

"It's going to be an incubator space, kind of a hub for rural land use," said executive director Jeff Schnurr, who is based in Sackville.

"We're in a very rural province. We keep trying to redevelop ourselves to fit a technology sector or other industries, but I think land use is one of our greatest assets," he said.

Schnurr was one of 10 finalists for CBC's Champions of Change for his work with his organization.

His goal is to maintain forests across the globe and protect their natural environment.

"We're kind of really looking to succeed a lot of old farmers, or people that have been working in the woods with the next generation, so this is very much what this is about," said Schnurr.

Whaelghinbran Forest boasts more than 70 acres of certified organic farmland and trees that are more than 150 years old. (Courtesy of CFI)

The land in question belonged to Clark Phillips and Susan Tyler, who’ve been farming organically and restoring the forest for more than 35 years.

But the couple, now in their 70s, was looking to pass the property along to a group that could take care of the land.

So Schnurr started fundraising and the deed was signed over on Thursday.

"They bought them with that easement on them which says that they'll continue the management of the woodlot in the same way that we managed it," said Phillips.

The property, known as Whaelghinbran Farm, boasts more than 70 acres of certified organic farmland and towering trees, such as white pines and red spruce, some of which are more than 150 years old.

It demonstrates that people can live in harmony with nature, not against it, according to Schnurr.

The fields and forest will remain intact and become a centre for education, where people can go to learn about sustainable farming and forestry.

Phillips and Tyler will continue to live on the property and act as mentors for future farmers.

Schnurr founded Community Forests International in 2008 after seeding a tree-planting project on Pembra, an island off the coast of Tanzania, in 2007.