About us

About us

Our History

Mpingo Conservation & Development Initiative was founded in 1995, originally under the name of the Cambridge Mpingo Project, and began with the Tanzanian Mpingo 96 student expedition. Between 1996 and 2003 the project organised six student research expeditions to Tanzania, involving 56 students from eight different universities, during which time we changed our name to the Mpingo Conservation Project (MCP).

The project was transformed when in 2004 we won the top prize in the BP Conservation Awards Programme. This allowed the project to set up a permanent field base in Kilwa District, Lindi region-Tanzania, and to complement its ongoing research programme with practical, community-based conservation.

In 2010 we changed our name again, this time to the Mpingo Conservation & Development Initiative (MCDI for short) to better reflect what we do, and to convey the long-term horizons under which we operate.

Timing Milestone
Dec 2004 Registered as NGO
Jul 2006 First village forest reserve in Kilwa District declared with our support
Mar 2009 Awarded first Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificate for community-managed natural forests in Africa
Sep 2009 In partnership with Kilwa District Council, facilitated the first ever commercial timber harvest from a village forest reserve in Tanzania, earning communities 100 times more per log than previously
Jan 2010 Launched our pilot REDD project to diversify community forest revenues, funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy
Dec 2011 Sales of other hardwood timbers overtake those of Mpingo
Sep 2012 FSC-certified area of forest quadruples with addition of more than 60,000 hectares in Nanjirinji A village forest reserve
Apr 2013 First business models for timber and carbon offset sales developed
Jul 2013 Rural communities cover the costs of forest management from forest revenues
Oct 2013 Our first significant expansion begins in Angai Forest, Liwale District, funded by the Government of Finland under the Lindi and Mtwara Agribusiness Support (LIMAS) programme
Dec 2013 Cumulative timber sales pass USD $100,000 (TZS 180 million).
Jan 2014 Submitted proposal to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) for approval of a method to quantify greenhouse gas emissions averted through improved fire management
Mar 2014 First community started to cover forest management costs from timber revenues
Sept 2014 Expanded to Tunduru District, funded by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Tanzania Country Office, and now support community forestry in four forest-rich districts of south-eastern Tanzania. Entered into a long- term partnership with WWF.
Apr 2014 Our beneficiary communities earned more than USD $100,000 (TZS 180 million) from timber sales in 2013-14 alone
May 2015 New community-based fire management method approved by VCS for use in Eastern Miombo Woodlands that stretch some 2.8 million km? of East and Southern Africa
Mar 2016 Our CEO won two prestigious international awards in two months: Whitley Award for Nature and National Geographic Buffett Award for Leadership in African Conservation

Our Aims

We were founded in the belief that mpingo and other hardwood trees offer a unique opportunity for integrated conservation and rural development across large areas of their native habitat in Tanzania and Mozambique. Our aim is to use these trees as an economic tool to advance conservation of miombo woodlands and East African coastal forests. We now support communities to market and sell more than 15 hardwood timbers in local, national and international markets. The income from timber is used by communities to facilitate rural development and livelihood improvement. This enables them to become more self-sufficient, and provides local beneficiaries with concrete incentives to protect their forests as economically valuable assets. Community Forest Conservation also contributes to government confer from taxes generated through timber trade.

MCDI Governing Board

All our work is overseen by our Governing Board which has the following members.

S/N Name / Position Affiliation
1 Mr. John Salehe
Nature Tanzania
2 Ms. Gema Aliti Retired Programme Associate, UNDP
3 Mr. Alphonce Muro
Ministry of Finance

Mr. Rawson Yonazi

Retired Cabinet Under-secretary responsible for Environment (State House) and Assistant Director - Vice President's Office (Environment Division)
5 Mr. Raymond Wawa Lawyer & Advocate of the High Court of Tanzania
6 Dr. Alex Lobora Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute
7 Mr. Joseph Kigula Retired forester under Tanzania Forest Services Agency
8 Mr. Makala Jasper
(Board Secretary)
MCDI Chief Executive Officer

Our Vision

Rural communities in Tanzania are sustainably managing their forests to support their livelihoods and economies

Our Mission

To advance forest conservation and community development in Tanzania by facilitating sustainable and socially equitable utilisation of forest resources

Combining REDD, PFM and FSC

Certification in South-Eastern Tanzania

MCDI was selected to implement one of nine REDD pilot projects (2010 – 2014) funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Tanzania. As with all of our work, this REDD project sought to advance forest conservation in Tanzania by generating sustainable income for communities, thus providing incentives for them to manage local forests responsibly. It is designed complement sustainable, Forest Stewardship Council-certified timber production under our group certificate, and thus help to ensure the viability of community forestry as a sustainable enterprise in Tanzania. Where sufficient surplus income can be generated from REDD, this will be used to support expansion of the area of forest under community control.

The project aims to deliver six principle outputs:

  • Combined group certificate, validation and verification scheme covering timber and carbon-based products open to widest possible variety of community-managed forests in Tanzania.
  • Mechanisms to sell carbon offsets and credits for expansion of group certificate and/or forest recovery, and compatible with developing national REDD standards.
  • Efficient, scientifically robust and cost-effective methods for participatory assessment and monitoring of carbon stored in forests.
  • Drivers of deforestation controlled and reduced.
  • Best practice established for equitable management and sharing of economic benefits from forest conservation across the entire community.
  • Achievements disseminated with policy recommendations for national and international audiences.
  • Our partners in this project are:

  • University of Edinburgh, School of Geosciences;
  • University of East Anglia, International Development group;
  • Carbon Tanzania;
  • University College London, Dept of Geography;
  • Maliasili Initiatives;
  • Value for Nature;
  • MCDIs long term partners Fauna & Flora International.
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    Office Team

    Project Teams

    Mpingo Conservation & Development Initiative

    Our Partners and Supporters

    A big thank-you to all our funders and supporters over the years. On the budgets at which we operate every single contribution makes a big difference. You are too numerous to list exhaustively, but we would like to particularly acknowledge some of our biggest and most loyal partners and supporters below.