African Blackwood Conservation Project

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1997 ABCP Newsletter - Page 1



Red Rock, Texas • African Blackwood Conservation Project • Annual Report No. 1—July, 1997

Project Status–One Year On

The first year of this project is now history. After several years of contemplating how to begin such an effort, or if it was even feasible for a private individual to initiate a conservation project in a distant part of the world, the ABCP is now up and running.

seb-smal.jpg (6164 bytes)After some time to track down Mr. Sebastian Chuwa in Tanzania and then through correspondence with him to set up the basics of the project, I sent out 180 fundraising letters in June, 1996. Thanks to the generous response of some of the individuals and groups contacted, sufficient funding was collected to begin the project. A bank account was set up in Austin, Texas to serve as a clearinghouse for donations in the USA and a foreign exchange account was created in the name of the ABCP at the National Bank of Commerce in Arusha, Tanzania to convert US dollars into Tanzanian shillings for use in the work of the project in Moshi, Tanzania.

Sufficient funds however have not been collected to fully fund Mr. Chuwa’s Wish List, which envisioned a donated one-acre plot which would be fenced, a shelter built, and irrigation installed. So work has begun on an initial scaled-down version of the project. The Annual Report included as an insert in this newsletter will fully document the financial status of the ABCP for its first year. Photographs on the next two pages will document the work that has been accomplished to date.


Starting work on the project before the beginning of the local rainy season in February of this year at Moshi, Tanzania, Mr. Chuwa purchased the basic nursery tools necessary and began clearing brush from a smaller fenced area donated by a friend of the project. This plot is in lieu of the envisioned one-acre plot and about 5 km from it. He then conducted a training session for several interested individuals to acquaint them with the techniques of planting and caring for the mpingo tree. An attendant, Mama Mariamu, was hired to tend the fledgling nursery for the next several months.

"My 200 mpingo seedlings are obviously
not enough to make much difference
compared with what is being lost.
But next year I hope to have
20,000 seedlings to plant.
It is vital for me to act now
rather than wait until the future
when things have reached a crisis..."
Sebastian Chuwa, "The Tree of Music", 1992

A seedbed was prepared, mulched, and then carefully watered and tended. By April, the tiny seedlings were transplanted into pots. Over 500 seedlings were potted in this initial stage of the project. These plants will need to be carefully tended to protect them from any depredations by insects or animals, watered and fertilized until they are about 15 months old. Experience has shown Mr. Chuwa that this age is the minimum to insure a reasonable chance for survival when transplanted into the wild. Someday, on a yearly basis, we hope to replant the 20,000 mpingos estimated to be harvested every year.

Other and Future Efforts

Flora & Fauna International/Sound-Wood has offered moral support and encouragement and has generously shared all the current literature they have available regarding the status of mpingo, but has been unable to offer funding support at this time. Approaches were made to various timber dealers and woodwind music organizations with little response. Appeals have been published in the American Woodturner, the journal of the American Association of Woodturners, and several music journals, also with little response. An application was made for funding from the Local Environment Fund of the Royal Dutch Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and was subsequently rejected.

An appeal published in the Bulletin of the Society of Ornamental Turners in London was able to raise 60, to which the Society added 40 of their funds. This fall, several applications to benevolent foundations for grants are pending. Other possible funding sources are being researched and investigated.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
• Margaret Mead •

Securing status as an IRS 501(c)3 non-profit organization would give ABCP the legitimacy required by larger foundations. However, this step would entail the expense of a $200 registration fee with the IRS, incorporation with the state of Texas and its attendant $150 yearly corporate franchise tax, and the hassle and time expended in filing applications and yearly returns with both bodies. Money and time would thus be siphoned off from the intent of the ABCP to get some trees planted in Tanzania, but this may be the next necessary step in the evolution of the ABCP.

We can do no great things—Only small things with great love...Mother Teresa




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