Wood and Forest Stewardship #1: A First: FSC-Certified Village-managed African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon) from Tanzania

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Blog entry by jetnum posted 01-25-2011 12:27 AM 4144 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
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Wood and Forest Stewardship Series Introduction

Do you like to use exotic tropical hardwoods for your projects? Have you ever made, played, or owned a musical instrument? Have you ever thought about where the wood in your project or in a purchased product comes from?

As people who love wood—and as consumers, parents, and grandparents—we have a huge responsibility to fulfill if we want our children to have access to the same high-quality wood and wood products that we currently take for granted.

As woodworkers, we are currently enjoying fantastic benefits because of globalization. Exotic woods from every corner of the world are readily available “on our doorstep” both here in North America and in Europe.

But rarely do we stop to consider how that wood got to our doorstep. Was it harvested sustainably under a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certificate? Or was it cut and trucked illegally and in broad daylight out of some nation’s national forest? According to Norm Abrams (This Old House Magazine), you or I might pay up to $28 per board foot for real Cuban Mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni)—but how much did the local people who live in or near that forest resource benefit from the extraction of that timber?

My objective in creating this new series here on is to make all of us aware of our wood and forest stewardship responsibilities. So here follows an interesting story that shows very clearly how smart partnerships between rural development and environmental groups, industry groups, local sawmills, and villagers can result in tangible benefits for all project stakeholders—and for consumers as well!

FSC-Certified Village-managed African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon) from Tanzania

Do you play a musical instrument? Many instruments are made using unsustainably & illegally harvested tropical hardwoods. Below is a link to a very cool article about a village-managed African blackwood (Dalbergia
melanoxylon) forest in Tanzania that showcases a path for sustainable harvesting of tropical forest resources that will return tangible economic benefits to local villagers and all stakeholders in the chain right from forest all the way to your doorstep.

After over 20 years of policy development and implementation, in the fall of 2009 the first commercial timber harvest of Dalbergia melanoxylon took place in a community-managed forest in Tanzania. The Village Land Forest Reserve managed by Kikole village in Kilwa District, south-east Tanzania is covered under
a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificate—and it is the first for a community-managed natural forest in the whole of Africa!

After the wood billets are seasoned, it is expected that the very first clarinets and oboes made from this FSC-certified blackwood will come on sale in mid 2011. To kick-start the market in a new product line, no price
premium was attached to the timber billets. However, once the first certified instruments reach the market, Environment Africa Trust and partners will launch a marketing campaign under the banner Sound and Fair to convince musicians of the merits of buying FSC-certified instruments.

Market research suggests that, once the issues have been explained to them, musicians are prepared to pay 5–25% more for ethically labelled instruments.

Read more here:


-- “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

1 comment so far

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2905 days

#1 posted 01-26-2011 10:44 PM

Interesting blog! I like. The indigenous South African timber that I use all comes from a FSC certified forest management programme here in the Southern Cape…

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

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