Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Sustainable forest management…

…local income increases one hundred-fold

A Tanzanian group supported by The Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) has helped two local communities to become fully-certified sustainable forest managers. “This is a first for Africa”, said CLP project leader Steve Ball. “It ensures that the forests are managed sustainably and that local communities can earn over 100 times more from their woodlands than they have done previously”.

The CLP is a partnership between BirdLife International, Fauna & Flora International, Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society and BP. The Mpingo Conservation Project (MCP) was first supported by the CLP in 1996 to provide much needed basic information on the distribution, ecology and exploitation of the East African Blackwood tree Dalbergia melanoxylon, also known as Mpingo.

The African Blackwood tree has long been over-harvested across the continent to obtain its dark, lustrous heartwood. The wood is greatly prized for its strong structural qualities by local wood carvers and international manufacturers of woodwind instruments. Although African Blackwood is still relatively abundant in South-East Tanzania, illegal logging is widespread and very poor, forest-dependent communities generally receive little benefit from logging on the land around their villages.After successful early projects, the MCP team received additional CLP awards in 2004 to begin developing a programme of community-managed sustainable forestry - working towards the long-term goal of conserving large areas of forest and woodland in southern Tanzania.

The team’s work has recently paid off when the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) awarded certification to two communities in the Kilwa District of south-eastern Tanzania. “The Forest Stewardship Council is an international body that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests”, added Steve Ball. “The FSC certificate will enable communities to earn upwards of $US 19.00 per log compared to $US 0.08 they received before the MCP began working with them”.

“The MCP has worked hard to give local communities an economic incentive to manage their forests responsibly by securing them a premium on timber harvested sustainably”,
said Kiragu Mwangi, CLP Programme Officer at Birdlife International. “Their approach is making a significant difference to local livelihoods and helping to alleviate extreme poverty in some of the poorest communities in East Africa”.

A small collection of villages in Kilwa District, south-east Tanzania, have been working with the Mpingo Conservation Project since 2004 to achieve this historic first for African people, offering new hope for the twin goals of poverty alleviation and forest protection on the continent.“When we started this project we began to see the benefits that could arise from managing
our forests,” said Mwanaiba Ali Mbega, a local farmer. “Now that we have reached the stage of certification, we are confident we are going to bring long term benefits that we will be able to pass on to our grandchildren”.

“Previously we just used blackwood without thought, but we have learnt that it is a valuable resource. Now we see that we can utilise our stocks to benefit us all as villagers”,
said Mr Mwinyimkuu Awadhi, Chairman of Kikole village.

Started in 1985 by BirdLife, the Conservation Leadership Programme (formerly known as the BP Conservation Programme) supports the vital work of the next generation of conservation professionals who are implementing practical projects that address global conservation priorities – from assessing the status of threatened birds in China, to protecting sharks in Brazil and trees in Egypt.

4th July 2014