African Blackwood Conservation Project


So that the song
of the Tree of Music
will not go silent!


Latest Newsletter -- Fall 2015

Welcome to the website of the African Blackwood Conservation Project (ABCP). The aim of this project is to help replenish this valuable tree in Tanzania. Most people will not have knowingly seen blackwood but almost everyone will have heard it, for it is the premier wood of choice for fine concert-quality woodwind instruments such as clarinets, oboes and flutes, as well as being used in the manufacture of bagpipes. Blackwood is also the finest material available today for producing ornamental turning. In its African homeland, it is used to make intricate and highly detailed carvings, and plays a vital role in the ecology of the East African savannah.

Planting trees is what the ABCP is all about, and here you can learn about what we do and how you can help. For starters, do your normal shopping at Amazon, but click on the Amazon Smile link at left and without any changes to your shopping choices or prices, you will be giving a donation to the ABCP at the same time, courtesy of Amazon's generous support of non-profit organizations like ours. You may also support the ABCP by giving a gift of trees planted through the Good Gifts Catalogue, or donate using PayPal.

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Sebastian Chuwa, co-founder of the ABCP, passed away on 8 April 2014. His death was sudden and unexpected as he succumbed to complications after suffering a stroke. Sebastian will be sorely missed by his family and by those who loved and worked with him in the conservation work so dear to his heart. We have posted online a CV/Bio and Obituary on Sebastian's profile page. His wife, Elizabeth, and her brother, Dismas Macha, will carry on his work as co-directors of the project in Tanzania. More about Sebastian's life and this transition in the leadership of the ABCP can be found in the 2014 ABCP Newsletter.

Why Plant Trees? Environmental Woes in Tanzania Point to the Need for Projects Like the ABCP!

This website documents our efforts to perpetuate this remarkable natural resource in supporting the work of Tanzanian botanist and conservationist, Sebastian Chuwa. Despite its importance as a world timber there have been few conservation efforts to replenish the species. Although it is not yet on the endangered list the ABCP is taking efforts now to help assure that eventuality will not occur. To learn more about the wood, its homeland, this project, the people who are trying to make it happen and how you can help, click on the links in the banner above or the sitemap below. You may also search this site for specific terms. The ABCP also replants other African trees, such as coffee, mahogany, and camphor, as well as its flagship species, African blackwood.

The ABCP is a volunteer-staffed, US non-profit 501(c)(3) organization which has received funding from private donations from concerned individuals and additionally from the generous support of the Cottonwood Foundation, the Lindbergh Foundation, British Petroleum Tanzania, New England Biolabs Foundation and the Good Gifts Catalogue. Sebastian Chuwa, Tanzanian co-ordinator of the ABCP, has also been honored for his conservation and environmental education efforts on behalf of African blackwood and other African tree species with the Spirit of the Land Award at the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Rolex Awards for Enterprise in 2002, Condé Nast Traveler Magazine World Savers Environmental Award in 2006, The National Arbor Day Foundation's J. Sterling Morton Award and Yahoo! in 2007. 100% of the funds donated will be applied directly towards the onsite work of the ABCP in Tanzania, and all administrative costs of the project will be covered by the US coordinators.

The "Tree of Music" video shows the importance of this species in the field of music and describes the threats which face it, with details and how to obtain a copy here.

YouTube video profiling Sebastian Chuwa's conservation work as broadcast on Shining World TV.

PLANT_LOGO_English.gif (28073 bytes) The Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign is a worldwide tree planting initiative facilitated by the United Nations Environment Programme. The campaign strongly encourages the planting of indigenous trees and trees that are appropriate to the local environment. Sebastian Chuwa's tree planting efforts in Tanzania now total 3.3 million various tree species, including over 1 million mpingos planted, as documented here.
lion.jpg (3058 bytes) To see a photo slide show documenting the 2006 trip to Tanzania by the US ABCP team, including wildlife safari photos and photos of ABCP activitities, click here.
ggcicon.jpg (6871 bytes) The African Blackwood Conservation Project's work is featured in the Good Gifts Catalogue, which includes presents suitable for every occasion from birth to death and the fun bits in between. You can support the ABCP by buying a gift of planting 21 seedlings, planting 50 seedlings or planting 60 seedlings.

Contributions from the Good Gifts Catalogue are funding Mpingo planting at Makuyuni, on the eastern highlands below Mount Kilimanjaro. In the photo ar right, Kibo and Mwenza peaks are visible in the background in this view from the site. Workers first cleared a plot of acacia thorn bushes and then planted 12,000 mpingo seedlings, and they are shown weeding the plot. Read more about Good Gifts on the ABCP website here, including a photo slide show of the Makuyuni Project.

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paypaldonation.gif (857 bytes) We also accept PayPal payments for ABCP donations.

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Transplanting mpingo seedling at Makuyuni Mpingo Site.
Recycled plastic water bottle trickles water to the tree's
roots during the dry season.

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Mpingo seedlings in the two nursery shelters at the Moshi
Mpingo Plot will soon be ready for transplanting.

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"Mpingo Alley" – Rows of mpingo trees at the Moshi
Mpingo Plot Tree Nursery at Kiungi. This is the main
ABCP nursery and these trees planted in the late
1990's are now producing seeds for the nursery.


ABCP Website created and maintained by James E. Harris, © 2000.
All photos copyright © 2011 by Sebastian Chuwa unless otherwise noted.