Towards a Sustainable Future for Mpingo
On January 2, 2017 the 17th meeting (CoP17) of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, made conservation history by passing the most far-ranging measures ever adopted by the organization. It is referred to as “the most critical meeting in the 43- year history of CITES.” Of relevance to the ABCP is that CoP17 included all Dalbergia species under its regulatory mandate, amounting to the addition of 200 tree species, many of which are threatened, like African blackwood.
CITES Secretary-General, John E. Scanlon, said “CITES CoP17 was a game changer for the world’s wildlife, with international trade in 500 more species brought under CITES controls, including high value marine and timber species. CITES also adopted a vast array of bold and powerful decisions addressing critical areas of work, such as curbing corruption and cyber-crime, and developing well-targeted strategies to reduce demand for illegal wildlife. These far-reaching outcomes of CoP17 will have impact on wildlife and ecosystems, as well as on people and economies. We are all now focused on the implementation of these decisions for which we need equally bold concrete actions.”
Founded in 1973, CITES is a multinational treaty between 183 countries of the world (with 12 abstaining), and its protective range has grown to include over 35,000 species. Its mandate has the force of law, which is administered at local levels by the cooperating parties. The passage of CoP17 has issued a warning call throughout the music, woodworking and wood supply industries, and all are trying to determine a way forward to insure future supply and access to materials.
For mpingo conservation, sustainable harvesting has often been promulgated as the most effective strategy for the future, but with the rise of international environmental crime, forest resources in poor countries can be easily exploited and tree populations quickly decimated. (See related story, page 6.) In eastern Africa, the only location on the continent where commercially usable stands of the tree remain, mpingo has become commercially extinct in so many areas that replanting is the only viable option to insure a future for the species as a whole.
For this reason the ABCP has relied on a paradigm that combines local education with the implementation of replanting programs in protected and environmentally appropriate areas. To our knowledge it is the only long-term replanting project dedicated to conservation of the species. As the world turns its attention to designing and implementing a legal framework to enforce the CITES agreement, we ask for your support to ensure the continuity of one of the most artistically treasured woods on the planet – Mpingo, the Tree of Music.
Read two articles describing impacts of CoP17 CITES Appendix II Listing of Dalbergia Species:
On July 21, 2017, Elizabeth Chuwa, ABCP Co-director, was acknowledged by Jane Goodall for her work in conservation and community empowerment. Presented with a certificate at ceremonies in Moshi, she was cited for her “dedication, commitment and passion.” Through many years Elizabeth has cooperated with Roots and Shoots, Goodall’s youth education network, to establish groups in Kilimanjaro schools and teach children the importance of protecting natural resources.
Elizabeth has been a primary school teacher since 1984,
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Last revised 19 Sept 2017.