AFRICAN BLACKWOOD CONSERVATION PROJECT
Some Basic Facts About Mpingo
*Source: 1992 BBC Television Documentary "The Tree of Music" aired on US PBS television stations on the Nature series.
- Once covered vast areas of the African savannah from Ethiopia to South Africa.
- Now found only in Tanzania and northern Mozambique.
- Known locally in Tanzania as the Mpingo tree.
- International musical instrument trade brings in $1.5M to local economy.
- A thorny member of the rosewood family whose roots support a specialized bacteria which increases soil fertility.
- Serves as a barrier to spreading desertification.
- After the dry season, its leaves are an important source of food for wildlife.
- Known as “The Tree of Music” for its qualities as a material for woodwind instruments.
- Premier wood in the world for Ornamental Turning.
- Estimated 3 million trees exist today.
- One typical mill on the southern coast of Tanzania processes 600 trees per month.
- 60 years are required to produce commercially viable trees.
- Of the current population, only about 20%, or 600,000 trees, are suitable for harvesting.
- At the current extraction rate of 20-30,000 trees per year, the harvestable population diminishes at a rate of 5% per year.
- Human-caused burning kills younger trees which are not yet resistant to the effects of fire and causes defects in growing trees.
- Replanting and controlling fires are the first steps in replenishing the Mpingo.
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World-Wide Web presentation Copyright © 1996, James
E. Harris. All Rights Reserved.
Last revised June 11, 1996.