The supply of responsibly harvested African blackwood stands to increase significantly as a result of a 700% increase in the total area of forest in Tanzania certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

13th January 2011

Two new Village Land Forest Reserves were successfully audited under FSC conditions during 2010 and are now able to supply timber branded with the FSC stamp. Liwiti (6,229 hectares) and Nainokwe (8,502 hectares) have been registered under the FSC Group Certificate Scheme of the Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative, the Tanzanian partner of the Sound & Fair campaign.

The inclusion of Liwiti and Nainokwe increases the total area of community-managed and FSC-certified forest in Tanzania from 2,420 to 17,151 hectares, an increase of 708%.

“This is a significant development in availability of FSC-certified ‘tonewoods’ and the precise message we want to deliver to musical instrument-makers here in Ireland,” according to Tom Roche of Just Forests, the Irish partner of Sound & Fair.

Liwiti and Nainokwe ready for timber harvesting FSC regulations require detailed surveys of the number and types of tree that are present within each Village Land Forest Reserve, the data being the basis for sustainable harvesting quotas. Both Liwiti and Nainokwe have completed their surveys and are now ready for their first harvests, which are expected to take place during in early 2011.

Increased revenue opportunities from new FSC timber species Nainokwe’s forest in particular holds good stocks of African blackwood, significantly more than Kikole, where the first FSC African blackwood harvest took place in December 2009, and both villages will earn good revenue from this species.

Liwiti and Nainokwe also stand to gain significant additional revenue from other timber species, especially Julbernardia and Pterocarpus (sometimes known as Bloodwood for its red colour). Neither of these species are of use in the woodwind instrument industry, nor are they as valuable as African blackwood, but their presence in high volumes, offers increased revenue earning opportunities and subsequently better prospects for community development projects. For example, in Liwiti the annual quota for Julbernardia is 43 times higher than that for African blackwood and in Nainokwe the respective figure is 6 times.

It is through the responsible harvesting and sale of such species, in addition to African blackwood, that forest-dependent people in Tanzania will be able to generate the revenue needed to safeguard the forest in the long-run.


Picture shows: Ma. Chloe O. Silverio – Attache, Embassy of the Philippians and Mr. Chris Flood, T.D., Chairman..Irish Aid Expert Advisory Group at the launch of Just Forests NEW Wood of Life exhibition in European House, 18 Dawson Street, Dublin on Tuesday 11th January 2011, to mark the United Nations-designated International Year of Forests 2011.


Notes to Editors

1. African blackwood is a slow growing tree that is highly prized for making clarinets, oboes and bagpipes. It 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 international manufacturers of woodwind instruments. Although African blackwood is still relatively abundant in southern Tanzania, illegal logging is widespread and very poor, forest-dependent communities generally receive little benefit from logging on the land around their villages.

2. FSC is an independent, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. The FSC label provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment as well as providing ongoing business value. FSC’s forest certification standard is recognised as the global gold standard for responsible forest management.

Background on the Sound and Fair Campaign

The Sound & Fair campaign aims to realise a sustainable trade in African blackwood through a fully-certified chain of custody linking village communities in Tanzania to woodwind instrument musicians in the UK.

By safeguarding a hugely valuable natural resource, Sound and Fair will help lift some of the world’s poorest people out of poverty.

The Sound & Fair campaign is managed by Kilimanyika and funded by the Environment Africa Trust through a grant from Comic Relief.

Mpingo Conservation Project (MCP) is the Tanzanian partner responsible for managing village FSC-certification.

Fauna & Flora International, the environmental organisation, is a UK partner.

Irish Woodworkers for Africa T/A Just Forests is our Irish partner

Further Information


Images and further and interviews available on request from:

United Kingdom: Neil Bridgland – neil@soundandfair.org / +44 (0) 7919 092 189
Ireland: Tom Roche – tomroche@justforests.org / +353 (0)86 8049389


For technical information on African blackwood and its exploitation, see Mpingo conservation


Tom Roche (trading as) Just Forests Ltd.
Ringfort Workshop, Rathcobican, Rhode, Offaly, Ireland
Phone: +353 (0)86 8049389  |  E-mail: info@tomroche.ie
Company Registration Number: 612423 This website is an education awareness initiative of Just Forests Ltd Copyright © 2018 Tom Roche (trading as) Just Forests Ltd.