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The Lindbergh Foundation Believes that Innovative Science and Technology Hold the Key to Addressing Humanity’s Environmental and Productivity Challenges

Sebastian M. Chuwa James Harris

Sebastian M. Chuwa
Coordinator, Mpingo Conservation Project, Moshi, Tanzania
James E. Harris
Coordinator, The African Blackwood Conservation Project, Red Rock, Texas

"Creating a Community-Based Program to Replant the African Blackwood Tree, Prized for Use in Carving and Woodwind Instruments, in Moshi, Tanzania"

Categories: Education and Conservation of Plant Resources: 2000

An estimated 20,000 African Blackwood (Mpingo) trees are harvested for commercial purposes each year. The wood is used by artists in carvings; to make some woodwind instruments; and it also provides a valuable economic resource for Tanzania, one of the poorest countries in the world. Once found in 20 African nations, harvestable stands of Mpingo are now only found in Tanzania and Mozambique. The trees have a 70-200 year growth cycle to reach a commercially usable size, and it is estimated that only a 20-year supply of trees remain available for harvest in Africa. For these reasons, the African Blackwood Conservation Project was established as a grass-roots effort to restore this precious tree in its native land.

Chuwa, a botanist, raises and replants the Blackwood and educates African citizens about its conservation and replenishment. He has focused much of his attention on attracting and educating young people through the establishment of Mpingo Clubs in the local schools. He plans to develop educational films and training videos that will demonstrate how to gather seeds and document the germination and planting process. It is hoped that through these videos, he can teach local residents how to identify the tree and help protect it as a valuable resource; influence other towns in the area to set up similar projects; instruct how nurseries should be set up to raise the trees; teach the most suitable habitat for the trees once they are large enough to be replanted into the wild; and document his ongoing tree growth experiments. Sebastian Chuwa

This Lindbergh/Newton Grant in conservation of plant resources, and arts and education, honors and memorializes the friendship of Charles A. Lindbergh and James D. Newton.

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