Skip to the content
“The wood of mpingo is dark, beautiful, lustrous and increasingly rare. FFI and our partner are working with local communities to develop systems for harvesting mpingo sustainably. This enables villagers to apply the same principles to manage other timber species, ensuring that trees are valued, livelihoods enhanced and habitats for wildlife protected.”
FFI Africa Programme Manager
The mpingo tree is one of Fauna & Flora International’s (FFI’s) longstanding flagship tree species. Its dense black wood, which gives the tree its other name, the African blackwood, is in demand for making professional musical instruments.
Mpingo trees can be found across 26 African countries, from northern Ethiopia, to Angola in the south and from Senegal in the west to Tanzania in the east.
Illegal logging and over-harvesting have decimated mpingo tree populations in Kenya and much of northern Tanzania over the last 30 years.
FFI is working with our local partner the Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative to help Tanzanian communities use their mpingo trees in a sustainable way. The world’s first Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified mpingo wood was harvested in December 2009.
FFI is also a partner of the Sound and Fair campaign, which promotes sustainably produced woodwind instruments.
Ensuring a market for FSC instruments means communities have an incentive to continue their sustainable harvesting.
Mpingo trees grow extremely slowly, not reaching harvestable age for between 70 and 100 years.