Sound and Fair’s roots lie in a series of Cambridge University-linked research expeditions, starting in 1996, which assessed the conservation status of African blackwood, mpingo in Swahili, in Tanzania.

These surveys continued until 2003 when the project officially became the Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative (MCDI), a name which emphasised the value of African blackwood to forest communities and the role it could play, if correctly managed, in alleviating poverty.

Tanzanian children in Kikole FSC certified forest

By 2004, MCDI was registered as a Tanzanian NGO with its first field office in Kilwa, Lindi District, and, over the next five years, developed its capacity as a practical conservation organisation with the aim of safeguarding Tanzania’s remaining natural forest through community-based forestry management.

Support for this work came from a range of funding organisations including Comic Relief, Fauna & Flora International, The Darwin Initiative and the BP Conservation Programme.

Tanzanian FSC certified coastal forest

Africa’s first FSC certified community managed, natural forests

The fruits of this work began materialising from 2009, when MCDI obtained the first FSC certificate for community-managed natural forest in Africa and, for the first time, forest-dependent people in Tanzania were able to harvest their own wood, sell it with an FSC label and retain 100% of revenue.

FSC African blackwood log (1)

Sound and Fair began its work in 2009 as a campaign to promote the Chain of Custody (CoC) for FSC® 100% African blackwood from community-managed forests in Tanzania and, by 2011, had helped secure orders from ten musical instrument manufacturers, including Hanson Clarinets and CF Martin, both of whom were FSC-certified.

Marigaux FSC oboe

Sound and Fair Limited was incorporated in the UK and Tanzania in February 2012 as a social enterprise committed to the fair and ethical trade of timber from community-managed forests .

FSC African blackwood billets

Sound and Fair has to date completed one production cycle and successfully exported container consignments to clients in the EU and USA. Investment is now being sought to scale up capacity and improve processing efficiency in Tanzania.

Semi-processed FSC African blackwood


2013 / 2014 – Sound and Fair Ltd makes first deliveries to clients in the US and EU.

Sept / Oct 2012 – Sound and Fair Ltd carries out its first FSC 100% harvest.

July 2012 – Sound and Fair Ltd and Sound and Fair Tanzania Ltd achieve FSC CoC certification.

Feb 2012 – Sound and Fair Ltd incorporated in the UK and Tanzania.

July 2011 – CF Martin, the US guitar maker, places order for FSC 100% African blackwood.

May 2011 – Sound & Fair given Outstanding Achievement Award by FSC UK.

Feb 2011 – second harvest of African blackwood and other FSC timbers takes places.

Jan 2011 – The world’s first FSC 100% clarinet launched by Hanson.

November 2009 – First harvest of FSC 100% African blackwood takes place in Kikole village.

Mar 2009 – MCDI obtains first FSC certificate for community-managed natural forest in Africa.

Sep 2006 – Kikole Village Forest Management Plan approved by Kilwa District Council.

Dec 2004 – MCDI registers as an NGO in Tanzania.

June 2004 – Kilwa Field Office established.

1996 – 2003 – Research expeditions assessing the conservation status of African blackwood.

Mpingo Village Images

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