Highlighting Community Forests International, Ulnooweg Education Centre and the Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick

Weaving Indigenous knowledge and western science to better manage forests for climate resilience

Contribution: 2022-2025


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Funding strategy

Reconciliation – Indigenous-led solutions to activate the National Indigenous Economic Strategy Calls to Economic Prosperity

The McConnell Foundation provided funding to Community Forests International to support the Common Ground pilot. This included storytelling and knowledge sharing of traditional Indigenous land management practices and training individuals and organizations in forestry management practices and forest carbon.

Community Forests International (Community Forests) works to protect and restore forests, help communities adapt to climate change, build economic prosperity, and champion climate justice and social equality. In 2021, Community Forests partnered with Ulnooweg Education Centre and the Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick on the Common Ground project. The project aims to protect New Brunswick’s critically endangered Wabanaki-Acadian Forest and integrate Indigenous place-based knowledge and rights into the region’s forest care and climate action.

Under Ulnooweg’s leadership, the Common Ground project applies the lens of Etuaptmumk (Two-Eyed Seeing) to manage forests for climate resilience and carbon storage. Working with Elders, Ulnooweg has hosted community gatherings to collect and share wisdom from those who know the forest. A number of materials will be developed from these gatherings to help transfer knowledge about Etuaptmumk and to share the story of the Asitu'lisk ancient forest, which was returned to Mi’kmaq care in 2022.


Introduced by Elder Advisor Albert Marshall, Etuaptmumk is a holistic approach that weaves together Indigenous knowledge and western science. It prioritizes practices that maintain the intergenerational health and resilience of forest ecosystems.

Within the first month of the project, however, Ulnooweg discovered the presence of a destructive invasive insect, hemlock woolly adelgid, in the forest. Community Forests pivoted to help Ulnooweg better understand the pest, the risks it posed to the forest, and how to preserve as much forest as possible. They have now jointly completed treatment on thousands of hemlock trees and are embarking on a management plan, informed by Mi’kmaq Elders and Knowledge Keepers, to help the entirety of the land thrive for generations to come.

The Common Ground project also works to ensure Indigenous communities can access the economic benefits from conservation activities that take place on their traditional territories.

“We are working with Indigenous partners to share our experience on the benefits, considerations and requirements of carbon markets and offset projects, with a specific focus on discussion of the opportunities and barriers faced by Indigenous people,” says Anne Herteis, Grants and Operations Manager at Community Forests.

“By sharing the tools, technologies, and lessons we have gained working in forest carbon offsetting we hope to bridge knowledge gaps and help channel funding to Indigenous project partners. All of this is being done in collaboration with community members , to better understand their goals and perspectives on the projects and land use.”

Thank you to Community Forests International for the images used on this page and others throughout this report.

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