A future for sustainable mpingo

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification of Hanson Clarinets, the UK’s largest clarinet manufacturer, completes the world’s first FSC chain of custody for sustainably harvested mpingo (Swahili for African blackwood).

Fauna & Flora International (FFI), as a partner in the Mpingo Conservation Project, welcomes this step in the right direction to making instruments more sustainable for the future.

The chain of custody links all handlers of FSC-certified mpingo, starting with forest harvesters in Tanzania and ending with instrument manufacturers and retailers, providing consumers with independent verification that the wood used to produce their instruments originates from a sustainable source.

“We are proud to become the world’s first FSC-certified maker of woodwind instruments,” said Alastair Hanson, Co-Founder of Hanson Clarinets.

“We buy our wood responsibly to help safeguard the hugely valuable natural resources of the tropical forests that provide the material needed to make clarinets.”

“We hope that our commitment will help persuade other makers to join in protecting endangered species and in turn work to protect the future for forests, wildlife, communities and of course music.” he said.

The world’s first harvest of FSC-certified mpingo was carried out in December 2009 in a Village Land Forest Reserve managed by Kikole village, southern Tanzania, under the guidance of the Mpingo Conservation Project.

“This a massive step forward in our campaign to realise a sustainable trade in mpingo timber and help lift some of the world’s poorest people out of poverty,” said Neil Bridgland, Sound & Fair Campaign Manager.

“Many years of hard work have gone into creating the required infrastructure in Tanzania to export FSC-certified hardwoods and now we have the commitment of one of the UK’s major woodwind instrument manufacturers to drive the process through.

“Very soon clarinet players will be able to make purchasing decisions based on ethical considerations as well as quality.”

FFI and the Tanzania-based Mpingo Conservation Project are helping Kilwa District Council to implement Tanzania’s community forest management system. The new system seeks to tackle unsustainable forestry by including local communities in forestry decision-making processes.