African Blackwood Conservation Project

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Details of the ABCP


Origins

mpingo-with-dust-devil.jpg (37585 bytes)The African Blackwood Conservation Project was established in 1996 by James Harris, a woodworker from Texas, USA, and Sebastian Chuwa, a botanist from Tanzania. Its purpose is to replenish the population of the African blackwood or mpingo tree (botanical name: Dalbergia melanoxylon). Because of the extensive use of this wood in the carving, instrument and woodworking trades, its supply is being depleted at an unsustainable rate. Although the tree grows in other parts of Africa, it is primarily harvested in Tanzania and Mozambique, countries with ideal climatic conditions for producing trees with characteristics suitable to the specific uses of the instrument and carving trades. Trees from other areas lack some of the special qualities of color and density that make the wood ideal for these commercial enterprises. Because of overuse, the tree is now commercially extinct in Kenya and in some areas of Tanzania. If present usage continues, with no attempts to replant the tree, geographic areas that are practically devoid of the species will enlarge, thus adversely affecting the East African ecosystem in which it grows, as well as numerous commercial enterprises throughout the world.

The programs of the ABCP are designed and implemented by Sebastian Chuwa, who has worked for over 30 years as a conservationist in Tanzania, along with a large group of volunteers mobilized by his leadership. Sebastian believes that mpingo conservation, in order to be widespread and lasting, must be based on public education along with large-scale replanting efforts. Since mpingo trees take 70-200 years to reach maturity, there has been little interest by commercial users in replanting efforts. Sebastian, however, is raising awareness about the problematic future facing mpingo and is designing programs that are helping with its conservation by including the species as one part of a larger plan for biodiversity conservation, reforestation and economic security for the people of the area.

In a country such as Tanzania where over 80% of the people make a living through agriculture, the natural environment is of crucial importance and tree species play a vital role in land conservation. The country is one of the poorest in the world, with a 2005 per capita income of only $290. Often several members of a family work to support daily needs and any added sources of income can make a big difference.

To insure a better life for his people and a sustainable future for mpingo, Sebastian is implementing multi-faceted tree planting projects, in which not only are large numbers of mpingo planted, but also large numbers of other indigenous species that will help people in their needs for fuel wood, food, medicines, building materials and commercial lumber. In this way, mpingo is conserved, the biodiversity of the ecosystem is enhanced, and people of the area are afforded species that can meet their immediate domestic needs. Since mpingo is the national tree of Tanzania, many people have joined in the effort to preserve it for future generations.  

Replanting Mpingo - Moshi Mpingo Plot

mpingos-farmland.jpg (42117 bytes)One primary goal of the ABCP is to reintroduce mpingo seedlings which have been grown in a nursery back into their natural habitat in Tanzania. The center of our replanting efforts for mpingo is the Moshi Mpingo Plot, which Sebastian calls the "heart of our project." It was established on donated land in 1996 at Kiyungi, a village near Moshi, Tanzania, on the semi-arid plain at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Sebastian himself lives at too high an altitude for cold-sensitive mpingo to grow. Moshi, at 813 meters (2667 feet), is 11 miles south of Sebastian's home and climatically ideal for the species, providing optimal growing conditions for the seedlings.

mpingo_plot_trees.jpg (37152 bytes)Through his many years of conducting growth experiments with the tree, Sebastian has learned its optimum growth requirements. First, he sprouts the seedlings in a partially shaded seedbed and then plants them in successively larger containers until they are mature enough to be permanently transplanted. He has found that it takes about 15 months until the seedlings are of a size and vitality to resist the fires, drought conditions, animal and insect depredation which threaten them in the wild. Sebastian regularly holds training sessions to teach nursery attendants, other horticulturists and interested area residents about mpingo cultivation.

Beginning in 1996, and then over the succeeding years, with donations from private contributors through the ABCP newsletter and grants from the Cottonwood Foundation and the Rolex Award, we have been able to build an infrastructure for planting large numbers of mpingo seedlings. The first nursery was constructed in 1997. The plot was fenced to protect the facility and then planted with 3,000 Dovyalis plants around the periphery. The thorny branches of Dovyalis intertwine with the wire to form a living fence which will outlive the fence posts used in construction, as they succumb to termite damage over time. The plant also yields a berry used in jams and jellies. In 1999-2000 Cottonwood funding provided a water tank and irrigation system for pumping water from the nearby Kikavu River,  This assured water supply is crucial to any nursery efforts because of the long dry season and often inconsistent rains of eastern Africa. 

In 2002, we were able to build a new expanded nursery, financed with funding Sebastian received from his Rolex Award. This shelter can accommodate 75,000 seedlings. In 2005, Cottonwood Foundation funding supported an additional nursery shelter, thus doubling our seedling capacity. These shelters are covered with shaded netting to provide partial shade protection. Seedlings are grown in seed pots constructed from polythene material, with sections cut from long rolls, tied at one end, and filled with soil. This is an affordable way to grow the many seedlings required for large-scale nursery efforts.

In addition to the nursery, the Mpingo Plot contains an experimental plantation, where 1,700 trees have been planted over successive years in order to study their growth requirements and viability. Those trees planted in the early years are 4-6 inches in diameter and are already bearing seed, thus supplying us with a valuable resource for our ongoing work. Sebastian regularly records measurement statistics and other noteworthy information regarding mpingo trees in this plantation.

cottonwood_building.jpg (25129 bytes)In the spring of 2004, workers began construction of a brick structure on the grounds of the Moshi Plot, with materials again provided by our private contributors and the Cottonwood Foundation. This building allows workers and volunteers to have a comfortable place to prepare and eat meals and to rest. The building has a living room, kitchen and bathroom. Workers will also be able to stay there overnight during times of peak seedling production in order to avoid having to arrange time-consuming and expensive transportation to and from the plot. A second facility for storage of tools and supplies was built behind the main structure in 2005.

In 2006 another acre of land adjoining the Moshi Plot was donated by the Township Council of Kiyungi to the ABCP, in acknowledgement of its efforts for African conservation. The ABCP  and Cottonwood have provided funding for fencing the area, which will become a demonstration plot for intercropping mpingo with subsistence food crops. This will show that mpingo can be successfully grown on agricultural lands, providing shade to crops intolerant to prolonged sunlight, stabilizing the soil, and adding nitrogen-fixing nutrients. 

millenium plants.jpg (11012 bytes)As word spreads about the ABCP mpingo plot people in the Moshi and Arusha area are taking advantage of our offer of free seedlings and are playing an important part in our conservation efforts. Farmers are planting mpingo as fence rows along the edges of their fields. People with houses in town are planting them for shade and windbreak protection. Schools are planting the trees around their paths and school buildings. They are also being planted on public land, some along dry river beds south of Moshi and some between Moshi and Arusha.

Makuyuni is a village west of Moshi near Ngorongoro Crater, one of Tanzania's most-visited tourist wildlife areas and primary habitat for mpingo. In 2004 the Makuyuni Village Council donated 20 acres of land for a group of Makonde wood carvers, called the Muungano Makonde Carvers, to plant a variety of trees for use in their art. They expect to eventually plant 40,000 trees. Seedlings for those trees were supplied from the ABCP Moshi Plot. In 2007 this project was expanded through funding from the Good Gifts Catalogue. See further details about this project below under Project Partners. Widespread planting of mpingo and knowledge about sustainable use and cultivation of the tree are primary goals of the ABCP. Through efforts such as these we are helping to insure that in the future mpingo will be available to supply both the international market and African carvers as well.

Conservation Education

The ABCP considers education a vital part of its conservation efforts. Through published articles, this website, our annual newsletter and contact with international conservation organizations, the US team disseminates information about the status of mpingo and what can be done to help arrest its decline. Every year we receive numerous inquiries from around the world written by people who have seen our information and are concerned about the future of the tree.

In Tanzania, Sebastian's ongoing efforts for the species are receiving widespread attention. Charles Mmbaga, a writer for the Daily News has published a series of articles about the work of the ABCP. Sebastian drew international attention to his efforts when he won the Lindbergh grant, the Spirit of the Land Award, the Rolex Award, the Conde Nast "World Savers" award, and the Arbor Day Foundation J. Morton Sterling Award. These honors have resulted in widespread publicity and increased attention for mpingo. He said that requests for mpingo seedlings continue to rise because of this publicity.

malihai_club_tree_planters.jpg (60940 bytes)Educational programs for young people are also a vital part of our project. With the awarding of a Lindbergh Foundation grant in July, 2000, we launched an intensive educational campaign in Kilimanjaro area schools. The Lindbergh funding provided a video camera, VCR, TV, and generator to enable Sebastian to make and present educational films about mpingo preservation and other conservation topics. During this project, Sebastian visited 34 schools and addressed over 10,000 teachers, parents, and students. He arranged the showing of environmental videos to over 4000 children, some of whom had never watched TV before.

mijongweni dance.jpg (18342 bytes)Sebastian has helped establish environmental studies as a curriculum subject and founded almost 100 youth conservation groups, many of which are learning to grow trees and helping in replanting efforts for mpingo and other species. Some of these groups are specifically devoted to the study and replanting of mpingo. (Further information about these groups can be found in our Who section.) Because of this intense focus on environmental issues, not only the young people, but whole communities are becoming more knowledgeable of the role that humans have played in environmental destruction and are learning ways to repair past abuse and instigate wise-use conservation practices.

Mjongweni Village: Mjongweni Primary School has played an important part in our conservation work. In 1999, 320 students and 36 adults initiated a project that uses films, drawings and artwork from mpingo to teach about the importance of both replanting and the conservation of the tree, including utilization of branches and cut-offs from trees that have been harvested. Its newly fenced and expanded nursery is producing seedlings which are being distributed to other schools for use in reforestation projects.

Further Outreach for the ABCP

In recent years the ABCP has widened its horizons to include environmental work not strictly related to mpingo conservation. Because of the long growing time for mpingo (70-200 years) and because of its relatively limited short term uses, the ABCP is instituting a variety of programs in Tanzania that will plant not only mpingo but a variety of additional tree species that will deliver immediate benefits to populations in our target areas. One crucial need is for fast-growing trees to use for fuel since an estimated 80% of energy use in Tanzania is based on wood products. Other trees in our nurseries provide food, medicines, building poles and lumber, as well as commercial timber for the retail market. Thus, mpingo becomes one of a number of trees incorporated into our overall philosophy of land conservation and human empowerment.

The ABCP also supports reforestation efforts for the conservation of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Because of its role as a crucial watershed in northern Tanzania, run-off from Kilimanjaro affects all species in the surrounding ecosystem for hundreds of miles along its length. Farmers, families, plant life and wildlife all depend on the sustenance of water sources originating on the mountain. Three hydroelectric plants on the Pangani River, which has its headwaters in Kilimanjaro, deliver electricity to large populations in northern Tanzania, so it is crucial the mountain's watercourses be protected to insure adequate water retention. In 2006 government officials called for large-scale tree planting programs throughout the country because a prolonged drought had begun to dry up rivers and the lack of water flow had widely disrupted electricity production in the country. Because of its vital role as water provider within the ecosystem of northern Tanzania, we consider the conservation of Mt. Kilimanjaro as a part of our overall conservation efforts. For additional information specific to Mt. Kilimanjaro, please follow this link.

Below are described the programs within Tanzania supported by the ABCP:
1) Replanting mpingo at the Moshi Mpingo Plot,
2) Conservation education,
3)
ABCP Project Partners -Adult groups for Economic Empowerment, and
4)
Conservation on Mt. Kilimanjaro.

ABCP Project Partners

Adult Groups for Economic Empowerment

The ABCP is also extending its reach by supporting a number of independent community groups that are working for environmental remediation and conservation education. Several of these are women's groups, which have burgeoned in Tanzania since passage of the 1999 Land Acts. This groundbreaking legislation liberalized the rights of women to own property and subsequently gave them freer rights to plant and own trees. In the Moshi area Sebastian has helped as advisor for three women's groups to establish programs for conservation, self-empowerment and community education. Several other mixed gender groups, described below, are also cooperative partners in our work.

Two important projects of these groups have been the establishment of tree nurseries and the manufacture of fuel efficient stoves. A variety of hardwood species for domestic use and reforestation, are grown in their nurseries. Their fuel efficient stoves reduce the use of forest resources as well as the time needed for women to gather firewood by 50-75%. The groups have raised awareness within their communities about the crucial need to replant mpingo and are distributing large numbers of seedlings. The US team has helped in their efforts by writing grants to help them become economically self-sufficient. New England Biolabs Foundation has generously awarded a number of grants to our adult groups, supporting their establishment of tree nurseries and other income generating endeavors such as bee-keeping, poultry raising and fish farming. With relatively modest input, endeavors such as these can make a very big difference in the ability of people to adequately support themselves, send their children to school, and become leading voices in the community for environmental conservation.

Below is information about the ABCP companion groups:

• Green Garden Women's Group:  The 16 women who founded The Green Garden Women's Group (GGWG) quickly developed an outreach into other local villages and their associated groups now number over 250 members. Two important objectives for them are to reduce forest encroachment on Kilimanjaro and to raise awareness about mpingo conservation. To these ends they started a commercial tree nursery in Moshi in 1998 to help supply local people with a large selection of useful tree species they could plant on their farms and around their homes. They regularly contribute tree seedlings for reforestation efforts on Kilimanjaro and have helped in the founding of two additional community nurseries at Machame and Marangu villages. They have also established a plantation of Jatropha trees, prized for their ability to reduce soil erosion while offering products for use in making candles and medicinal soap.

In a classroom they built near their Moshi nursery, they hold seminars to teach about seedling production and the making of fuel efficient stoves, so that others in the community can help in improving environmental conditions. These women have sponsored the planting of over 2 million trees since the group began its work. They have been advocates in the community for the distribution of mpingo trees and educate people throughout the area about its importance and beneficial attributes.

Social activism is also an important part of the programs of the GGWG. They have organized various functions in order to educate the community about AIDS awareness and prevention and the dangers of female genital mutilation. They raise money to sponsor AIDS orphans and arrange counseling sessions for families facing the disease. 

This group is serving as a leader in the community for sponsoring projects that are friendly to the environment and educating the public about environmental devastation. Other groups trying to establish similar programs regularly visit their facility to glean information and observe some of the successful projects they have implemented.

kikavu_chini_group.jpg (72422 bytes)• Mpingo Women's Group - Kikavu chini:  Members of the Mpingo Women's Group (MWG) live south of Moshi in Kikavu chini, named for the town's river that has its headwaters on Mt. Kilimanjaro. The MWG, numbering 26 members, was founded in 1998, The women have taken a leading role in their community in educating friends, neighbors, and school children about wise conservation practices, such as protecting water sources and curbing pollution. Despite the proximity of Kikavu chini to Mt. Kilimanjaro, it lies in the lowland plains and has a very hot and dry climate, so trees that are removed for use in this area are not easily regenerated. One objective of the MWG is to distribute trees to every household in the village, to provide shade, windbreak protection and tree products for ongoing livelihood needs. With funding from NEBF they have built a tree nursery and established bee-keeping and poultry operations. Before starting a new project, each of our groups invests time in research and consulting with local experts to learn the best methods for successful implementation. The MWG used part of their NEBF funding for educational trips to Njiro Wildlife Research Center, an institute for bee-keeping research and Olmotonyi Forestry Institute in Arusha where they learned basic information about seedling propagation and tree nursery maintenance. Elizabeth Chuwa, Sebastian's wife, is the trustee for this group.

• Fonga Women's Group:  Stella Mang'enya tells a story about the first meeting of the 10 member Fonga Women's Group (FWG), organized in 2001. She says, "Our group started as a friendly companionship. We are neighbors who have the same outlook and same interests and we thought we could share ideas. We sat down and discussed our environment, income, our children, our community and all the difficulties we face. After a long discussion we discovered that we could combine our efforts, knowledge and experience to solve our difficulties. It was from there we started to clean up our environment because we realized we were surrounded by rubbish and plastic bags, etc." As a result of this meeting the group started holding a weekly "Clean-Up Day" in their local village for purposes of beautification and sanitation and began to organize initiatives that would have social and environmental impact.

They began by starting a nursery for trees and vegetable plants, selling their seedlings at reasonable prices. They have donated over 20,000 tree seedlings, many of them mpingo, for village beautification, shade, and protection of water sources. They are producing fuel efficient stoves for their own use and to sell to other residents of the town. They are sponsoring 20 orphans, providing school clothing and educational expenses until they reach the 7th grade. In 2004 they received funding from New England Biolabs to expand their tree nursery and start a fish and poultry project.

Kibosho East Environmental Group: The story of the Kibosho East Environmental Group (KEEG) gives proof of the wisdom of Sebastian Chuwa's insistence on education as a primary basis for environmental action. This group was founded by 5 young adults in the ward of Kibosho East who had, as students, been members of environmental youth clubs organized by Sebastian.  In 2001, during a Kibosho East Ward meeting, headed by Sebastian in his capacity as a Councilor, community members entered into a discussion of some local environmental and economic problems and Sebastian suggested they form a group to address their problems. Many of the people who volunteered to head up the group were former students who had been trained in their schools through the Malihai program to be aware of conservation issues and were thereby influenced by Sebastian’s ideas on conservation of the environment.

Their mission statement shows their concern for Kilimanjaro's vanishing forests: “The Kibosho East Environmental Group is dedicated to helping preserve the environment of Mt. Kilimanjaro and at the same time enable its people to improve their lives by initiating economic enterprises which will establish sustainable practices in relation to the use of the natural resources on the mountain. We hope to do this by supplying trees of species that will help families and farmers with their household and economic needs, so that tree cutting leading to degradation of stream banks, hillsides and the forest reserve will be reduced.”

They started with 10 members and established a woodlot to raise fast growing fuelwood trees, selling branches only to leave the trees intact. They also established a nursery to raise fence and orchard tree seedlings for domestic and commercial uses, and for reforestation purposes on the mountain. Because they were so successful membership quickly swelled to 70 members. They now have a full-scale nursery and work with Sebastian and the Lyamungo Tanzania Coffee Research Institute, specializing in the growing of organic, shade-grown, disease-resistant coffee trees, for which there is a great demand. They have already distributed several thousand seedlings and are growing several hundred mother plants from which to take cuttings. They  hope to eventually be able to supply 50,000 coffee seedlings and 40,000 seedlings of other tree species for farmers on Kilimanjaro. Several years ago members of this group spent many days fighting a ground fire north of Sungu Village and were awarded a stipend for their work by the local government. They have since reforested that area with trees from their own nursery.

• Muungano Makonde Carvers: A recent ABCP initiative is a cooperative venture with the Muungano Makonde Carvers (MMC) in Moshi. This is a group of highly skilled and creative carvers who sell their art at an open-air market in Moshi. Sebastian has known them for many years. Several years ago, they won a grant from the COMPACT program to plant 40,000 mpingo trees at Makuyuni, a village southwest of Moshi. Sebastian assisted them in an advisory capacity and supplied mpingo seedlings from the ABCP nursery. As a result of this program, these were their accomplishments (from their brochure): “In 2 years, the project has raised awareness in primary schools located in Makuyuni ward and individuals about the potential extinction of ebony trees. Kilema village has owned the project by formulating by-laws to protect ebony tree species. Village guards have been posted at the project site to protect planted trees on a long-term basis. There has been reforestation of the half-mile strip of Kilimanjaro forest reserve along the border with Kilema ward. .... Over 35,000 tree seedlings were planted in Makuyuni ward. In addition, 10,000 indigenous trees were planted in the Kilimanjaro Forest Reserve at Kilema North ward. Trees planted included local hardwood varieties, namely "loliondo", "camphor" etc.”

With ABCP pass-through funding from the Good Gifts Catalogue, they are expanding the original mpingo acreage. The funding is being used to clear a new plot of land donated by the village government, and to plant it with a combination of mpingo and fuelwood trees. The ABCP has a contract with the Makuyuni villagers to closely manage the plot for at least 5 years. Further land will become available as further funding is designated for expansion.

• Environmental Greenishing Group: The Environmental Greenishing Group (EGG) was founded in 2007, as a result of a contact through the ABCP website by Emmanuel Noel, a recent graduate of the University of Dar es Salaam, with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Environmental Studies and a primary interest in the field of Community-Based Natural Resource Management. He wrote to express a desire to join in our efforts to establish tree-planting initiatives and environmental awareness groups near his home in Usa River for the purpose of addressing environmental degradation on Mt. Meru, which is west of Kilimanjaro near Arusha and suffers from similar problems of deforestation and water depletion.

After consultations with Sebastian, Emmanuel quickly established a group of 11 volunteers, mostly young people devoted to environmental conservation.The following is from the constitution of the EGG: “The overall aim of EGG is to create awareness on environmental conservation and create sense of community ownership of natural resources that will enable continuous assessment and management of natural resources. These are the plans of EGG in order to facilitate this:

    To establish tree nurseries in at least each ward that will be of importance in monitoring planting of trees in the ward.
    To do basic training to the community on how to conserve the environment while educating them on the importance of natural resource conservation.
    To provide basic environmental education during first phase of introduction of the group to the community, schools, institutions, and various groups.
    To educate the community, groups, and other institutions on tree transplanting to facilitate planting of trees from the nursery to the identified areas.
    To identify the areas in need of prompt conservation actions and plan for the implementation.”
Members of the EGG have begun the work with their own funding and a stipend from the ABCP. They intend to extend their work into surrounding communities as they attract more volunteers and funding. The ABCP is working to solicit funds to support their activities, and secured a Cottonwood Foundation grant in the fall of 2007 to provide initial support to get the EGG programs started.

• Sixtus Koromba: Another project partner is Sixtus Koromba, already noted for his musical abilities and work at organizing environmental choirs. Sixtus is also a teacher and the Roots and Shoots Regional Volunteer Coordinator for the Arusha Region. Since 2005 he has been working under contract from R & S with a Dutch organization called Nature for Kids that is trying to enlighten youth about environmental problems such as deforestation and endangered animals through the making and presentation of films geared towards children with local actors as major players.

NFK is sponsoring a special project for 76 schools located in the vicinity of some of Tanzania’s most important tourist areas, and Sixtus is the Assistant Coordinator and Field Environmental Educator. See: http://www.natureforkids.nl/Project2005.htm. He travels to each school, teaches the students a special song he wrote called "Misitu Ni Uhai Wetu" (The Forest Is Our Life), shows a 20-minute film, then leads an interactive discussion about the subject matter of the film, i.e., overgrazing, deforestation, or endangered animals. Sixtus also helps with producing the films, serving as Assistant Director and translator for some of the productions. One of the films was produced on Mt. Kilimanjaro, using people from Sebastian Chuwa’s community to illustrate the work that he is doing there to save the forests. Called “Sophia and the Terrific Forest,” you can view it online at www.natureforkids.nl/.

Into the Future

Sebastian Chuwa, the ABCP and its Project Partners together are working on a plan that they hope will be a focal point for the culmination of years of effort: the construction of an environmental center with central meeting hall surrounded by demonstration nurseries that will serve multiple community and ecological needs. It will be built on one hectare of land that Sebastian received to honor his public service when he was elected Councilor of his Ward in 2000. When James and Bette visited Sebastian in 2006, they visited this site and began to develop a detailed plan for the building and grounds, to be called the ABCP Environmental Conservation Center (AECC). The building plot is ideally located north of downtown Moshi (the primary "hub" city for communities living on the mountain) on the southern base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, with a view of the massif towards the northeast.

AECC_3-D_SE.jpg (102774 bytes)The objective in establishing this facility is to advance the cause of environmental conservation in the Mt. Kilimanjaro area through the traditional ABCP three-pronged formula of education, tree planting, and poverty eradication. The intent is to hold seminars, workshops, and public demonstrations to promote an ever widening activism for conservation measures in the region. It will be a unique institution in that it will offer educational and informational programs for a wide and diverse population of stakeholders – students and teachers, municipal leaders, youths seeking environmental occupational skills, and agriculturists. Since farmers and smallholders comprise a population that is sometimes not well-served in terms of having access to training and literature specifically geared towards improved agricultural methods that are environmentally friendly, we hope to provide services that will raise their production levels through organic methods.

The central building will have a lecture hall, office, media room, library, and kitchen. There will also be an outbuilding with living quarters for a groundskeeper, a garage, and storage room. The grounds will have seedling beds, nurseries, tree plots and a greenhouse to demonstrate best practices for the cultivation and maintenance of agricultural and tree species. There will also be a central open area for the holding of celebrations, competitions, or demonstrations. A library and information center will contain printed information pertaining to conservation and sustainable agriculture. Volunteers will assist in the publication of pamphlets and brochures on subject areas germane to environmental protection, economic empowerment, and the solution of problems created by human/ecosystem interactions in the area. A media center will have computers and a DVD/Video tape viewing area for instructional materials in this media.

Over time we hope to develop a “Tree Experience” plot, an area slightly less than -acre with a curving pathway through a planted forest of tree species from northern Tanzania, with descriptive plaques for each species containing the tree’s common English/Swahili/Local Language and scientific names. There will be a study guide with more information on the trees available for visitors that will contain information on the role each particular tree plays in the environment with respect to wildlife and other botanical species and the significance of the tree to human activity as well. See our "ABCP Tree List" for information about the trees we will be planting in our tree plot and nurseries. 

An important focus of the center will be on training in skills needed for occupational pursuits that provide the dual service of income provision and environmental protection. Since most of the people living on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro earn income from farming and there is a high population density with projected increase in the future, this center can provide a needed service by establishing informational programs for organic farming to help the mountain’s farmers accomplish their objectives in a way that benefits the Kilimanjaro ecosystem and improves their own livelihood strategies by increasing productivity and reducing money spent on expensive pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Kilimanjaro is a primary coffee producing area, but since the 1960's, its trees have been attacked by Coffee Berry Disease, causing the loss of up to 90% of the crop. New resistant varieties produced at the Lyamungo Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI) located on Kilimanjaro are now giving new hope to coffee farmers. Sebastian is helping in the work of TaCRI by producing large numbers of cuttings and plants of the resistant varieties for distribution in his community. Because of the many coffee producers in the area, the AEEC will have a special nursery devoted to coffee production and training programs in coffee horticulture for the new varieties. See Coffee Farmers of Kilimanjaro.

This project has the enthusiastic support of the ABCP Project Partners who have offered ideas in the planning stages and will be involved in helping to get the Center running and presenting programs for the community. Members of these groups have been involved in educational programs and teaching seminars for many years and are well equipped to organize instructional venues for the Center. Sebastian’s wife, Elizabeth, has over 20 years of experience as an elementary teacher and educational contacts throughout the area. She will be able to organize the academic community in sponsoring programs. Sebastian will use his existing network of alliances with governmental leaders and local institutions devoted to the cause of conservation, such as Mweka College of Wildlife Management, in designing and implementing projects and in enlisting teachers to conduct seminars and classes at the Center.

The Center will have its base in the community, with educational content emerging from the stated needs of the people, who themselves are the primary caretakers of the environment. With input from teachers, farmers, urban and political leaders, and people from all fields who are committed to environmental remediation, programs will be designed and implemented to serve the specific needs of the Kilimanjaro area, offering solutions that we envision will have positive effect for generations into the future.

Summary

This project is a direct-action, grass-roots cooperative effort between US and Tanzanian citizens. It is designed to have a positive impact upon the ongoing environmental degradation of our planet. By wise planning now, we can insure that this valuable natural resource will maintain its vital role in the local ecosystem and be available for the future harvesting of mature trees for woodwork purposes. By following this link, you can find out how to give a donation to the project and participate in this venture which is a service to all of the earth's populace. Progress towards the goals of the ABCP are covered in the Progress Report. Photographs taken by Sebastian Chuwa which illustrate what is happening in Moshi, Tanzania with respect to this project may be viewed in Sebastian's Photo Journal from Tanzania. The ABCP Annual Newsletters provide a yearly update of news, events and information related to the project.

 

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Last revised 21 Apr 2008.