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Pictures: Communities in Tanzania reap the benefits of Mpingo tree

The most expensive wood for carving figures and instruments, its certification last year has created huge opportunities for communities.

LAST YEAR THE wood from Tanzania’s national tree, the Mpingo tree, became a certified timber. As the most expensive wood used for carving, the certification of the Mpingo wood has opened up some much needed opportunties for craftsmen in the country.

Irish photojournalist Lar Boland visited the country recently to document the Mpingo Conservation Programme. His visit was partially sponsored by the Simon Cumbers Media Fund which is funded by Irish Aid.

Pictures: Communities in Tanzania reap the benefits of Mpingo tree
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  • Aerial view of Mafia Island

  • Mpingo tree

    The Mpingo is Tanzania's national tree.
  • Carving

    Mpingo is the most expensive wood used in carving.
  • Wood carving

    The wood is favoured in the carving of figures and crafting of musical instruments because of its high density, fine texture and durability.
  • Mwenge woodcarver

    A woodcarver in Mwenge uses the wood to carve a bust.
  • Intricate carving

    The twisted branches of the Mpingo make is ideal for intricate carvings by the skilled craftsmen.
  • Forest fire

    This controlled burning of the bush decreases the likelihood of serious fires in the dry season.
  • Bush fire

    The bush fire also helps to germinate some desirable forest trees and plants. Hardwood trees such as the Mpingo are usually left unscathed.
  • Woodcarver in Mwenge

    The certification of Mpingo as a timber has created much needed opportunities for craftsmen in Tanzanian communities.
  • Woodcarvers in Mwenge

    Tanzanian craftsmen hard at work.

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