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Other Groups Planting Mpingo

During the past five years, Sebastian has influenced or assisted in the formation of several groups in the Kilimanjaro area that are working for self empowerment as well as leading programs to help their communities repair damage to the environment that has been so severe during the past four decades. nl03-12.jpg (54776 bytes)Three of these, the Green Garden Women's Group, the Mpingo Women's Group and the Fonga Women's Group were formed after 1998 when the Tanzanian land laws were liberalized to allow women to own trees and land. Each of these groups operates a tree nursery and grows mpingo seedlings to help in the conservation of the species. In addition they utilize their collective efforts to make fuel-efficient earthenware cooking stoves, help with the environmental education of the youth, and study with recognized experts such as government bee-keeping officials to learn how to expand their economic self-sufficiency efforts.

The Kibosho East Environmental Group is a mixed gender group, formed at Sebastian's suggestion to remedy certain problems in his local neighborhood. It is taking an active role in reforestation on Mt. Kilimanjaro.

The ABCP supports planting of other species as well an mpingo as necessary to halt erosion and restore clearcut and fire damaged areas for a balanced ecosystem, as well as provide for the livelihood of the local communities involved. These efforts have received enthusiastic support from local people.

History of the ABCP

The ABCP is a US non-profit 501(c)(3) organization which was founded in 1996 by James Harris and Sebastian Chuwa for the purpose of instituting replanting and educational programs related to the conservation of Dalbergia melanoxylon, also known as African blackwood or mpingo. Even if you have never heard of mpingo, you have probably been exposed to it because it is a primary wood used in the manufacture of woodwind instruments such as clarinets, piccolos, flutes, oboes and bagpipes. Within Africa it is used by carvers such as the Makonde, whose work can be found in museums and private collections throughout the world. Ornamental turners also use the wood in their art because of its excellent machining properties.

African blackwood is generally considered a threatened species because it is being so rapidly depleted in Eastern Africa, its primary habitat. There is no harvestable mpingo remaining in Kenya and carvers there are having to import the wood. Stands in Tanzania are rapidly being exhausted and many areas have few remaining trees. None of its commercial users have taken any notable steps to replenish the tree, perhaps because it takes 70-200 years to mature to harvestable size.

Sebastian Chuwa is devoting his life to two dreams: 1) ensuring the future of mpingo and 2) educating his people about the importance of conservation of their natural resources. He has established over 50 Malihai Clubs (youth conservation groups), several women's groups and enlisted thousands of volunteers in his efforts for the environment. These groups grow a variety of tree seedlings to help the people with domestic needs and income. They have been responsible for planting over 650,000 trees in the area around Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Through the ABCP Sebastian is spreading the word about mpingo conservation and inspiring others to help. In 1997 he established the Moshi Mpingo Plot for the purposes of raising mpingo seedlings and establishing an orchard where he can conduct scientific experiments. The ABCP has distributed 77,000 seedlings from the plot and its newly expanded nursery will greatly increase that number in the future. Under our 5-year program nurseries will be established in other regions of Northern Tanzania.

James Harris and Bette Stockbauer devote their time to fundraising efforts in the US and Sebastian Chuwa administers the program in Tanzania. James and Bette personally cover all administrative costs in the US, including printing, postage, website expenses, and some equipment purchases. All donations collected go directly to support the work in Africa.

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ABCP Website maintained by James E. Harris, 2000.
Last revised 21 Apr 2008.