ENVIRONMENT-TANZANIA: Protecting the World's Most Expensive Tree
By Denis Gathanju*
Moshi, TANZANIA, Jun 18 (IPS/IFEJ) - With the snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro providing a backdrop under simmering tropical sunshine, a group of women in Mijongweni village break into song.
The song, in Swahili, praises the benefits of protecting the environment and living in harmony with nature for the survival of generations; values vital to the survival of one of the rarest hardwood trees in the world, the African blackwood.
Known to locals as mpingo, the African blackwood (dalbergia melanoxylon) is a tree that has been exploited to extinction in southern Ethiopia and Kenya and is currently only found in Tanzania and northern Mozambique. Tanzania boasts large tracts of natural forest and woodlands
While few people would recognise the tree, many across the world have heard its melodious tunes: the tree is a prized commodity for makers of musical instruments like flutes, clarinets and oboes, so much so that it is today the most expensive hardwood tree in the world, currently fetching up to 25,000 dollars per cubic metre.