World’s first flute made from FSC African Blackwood

Irish flute manufacturer Martin Doyle has launched the world’s first flute made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)–certified wood, meaning that the trees are grown and the forests managed sustainably according to an international standard.

The flutes are made with wood from the East African blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon) tree, otherwise known as Mpingo, in Tanzania.

Martin Doyle has been a prominent supporter of the sustainable use of African Blackwood since a visit to Tanzania in 2009. Whilst making the Radio 4 documentary The Music Tree, Martin travelled to Tanzania where he saw first-hand the efforts being made to manage African Blackwood.

Lessons learnt in Africa have come to fruition in Ireland, with the wood for these flutes coming from the same villages Martin visited several years ago.

Martin Doyle said, “When I started making flutes I was concerned as to where the timber came from: were they just hacking down the forests or were they sensitive to their continuation and replanting?

“In 2009, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Tanzania and I could not have been happier with any system of conservation. Villagers cut the trees down when they are mature and another grows right out from the stump ensuring the continuation of the species in the natural forest.

“I feel that this is a great system as within it man is working in harmony with nature. It is a much nicer approach than dedicating a forest to one type of tree, as it leaves nature to do natures work.”

Martin Doyle is now fully committed to using FSC-certified African blackwood in all future flute production and is pursuing plans to become fully FSC-certified as soon as possible.

Fauna & Flora International has been involved in mpingo conservation since 2004, following a grant from the Conservation Leadership Programme – a partnership of four global environmental organisations – which launched the Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative to protect southeastern Tanzania’s coastal forests, under threat from logging.

Sound & Fair aims to realise a sustainable trade in African blackwood through a chain of custody linking forest-dependent people in Tanzania to woodwind instrument musicians throughout the world.

Sound & Fair partner, Just Forests, is in the process of setting up an FSC producers group aimed specifically at Irish instrument manufacturers and it is hoped that Martin Doyle will become a founding member of the group.