Ethically sound bagpipes – from Tanzania, Africa

Edinburgh,  (ANI): Two communities in Tanzania have gained appreciation for making bagpipes from ethical sources of wood for the first time.

Most Highland bagpipes, other traditional Scottish pipes and clarinets are made from African blackwood, which comes from the rare and threatened mpingo tree found only in certain parts of Africa. Now, according to a report in The Scotsman, two communities in Tanzania have been awarded certification for managing their forests sustainably.

The villages – the first to get the award in Africa – are focusing on growing sustainable stocks of African blackwood. The certification, by the Forest Stewardship Council, which promotes responsible management of the world’s forests, means a market for ethically-sourced bagpipes can spring up.   Flora and Fauna International, involved in the Mpingo Conservation Project in Tanzania, said it was also a golden opportunity for the communities to lift themselves out of poverty. By taking control of the forests from international logging firms and selling responsibly harvested timber, the communities will be able to earn 250 times more from their woodlands – about 13 pounds per log compared with 5p before.

According to Greg Canning, retail manager at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, it would help protect stocks of the blackwood in the future.  “It will give the consumer a bit of choice. From our point of view, it’s encouraging. It’s a hugely positive step. If nothing else, it means there will be a sustainable source of blackwood. There is a fear that the resources are really dwindling,” he said.

“Previously, we just used blackwood without thought, but we have learned that it is a valuable resource. Now, we see that we can utilize our stocks to benefit us all as villagers,” said Kikole village chairman Mwinyimkuu Awadhi.

“When we started this project, we began to see the benefits that could arise from managing our forests,” local farmer Mwanaiba Ali Mbega said. “Now, we have reached the stage of certification we are confident we are going to bring long-term benefits that we will be able to pass on to our grandchildren,” he added. (ANI)

About Mike Chisholm

Official Piper: Rocky Mountaineer Rail Tours. Pitt River Resort. Exec. Dir. ScotFestBC: The British Columbia Highland Games, Director, BC Pipers' Assn. Former journalist, Nova Scotian, Dad.
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