Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative


Pioneering Sustainable Forest Management 

The Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative (MCDI) is a recognized leader in African community forestry. They help rural villages in southern Tanzania to establish their own local forest reserves, develop management plans, and to sustainably harvest and sell timber from these areas. They hold the only group certificate from the global Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) for community forestry in Africa, which provides external auditing of these community forests and their timber harvesting practices. 

MCDI’s model provides legal protection for community forests, local economic incentives for conservation, and an important new source of community income. 

MCDI now works across a growing stretch of community forests in four districts across southern Tanzania, including in key areas for conservation to the east and south of the Selous Game Reserve. Their work has the potential to expand across millions more hectares across the region’s vast, but threatened, forests and woodlands. 


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The Village Forest Reserves that MCDI has established help protect key wildlife habitat outside the Selous Game Reserve, and in the corridor between the Selous and Mozambique’s Niassa Reserve. Some forests where MCDI works also protect high-biodiversity coastal forest patches, which are home to many rare and endemic species. 




Worth of community timber sold during the past three years with the support of MCDI



Beneficiaries in 38 villages



Hectares of forest protected in 2017, supporting 5 villages and benefiting 12,800 people


The [MCDI-supported] FSC-certified forests have better forest structure, appropriate regeneration, and lower fire incidences than open access forests (non-FSC) and state forest reserves (non-FSC). Certified forests also provide additional economic benefits to communities compared to non-FSC forests.
— Source: Kalonga, S. K., Midtgaard, F., & Eid, T. (2015). Does forest certification enhance forest structure? Empirical evidence from certified community-based forest management in Kilwa District, Tanzania. International Forestry Review, 17(2), 182-194.


Scaling up Community Forestry

MCDI has facilitated the establishment of over 350,000 hectares of Village Land Forest Reserves, about half of which is now certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council, on community lands in southern Tanzania.