16 Jun 2010


Nicholas DanielCelebrated oboeist and conductor, Nicholas Daniel, has become the Patron of Sound & Fair, a campaign that aims to persuade the woodwind industry to use sustainably harvested African blackwood, the key component in the manufacture of oboes, clarinets and other woodwind instruments.

African blackwood was once common across east Africa but is now confined to a small area of southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique. The disappearance of the species threatens the livelihoods of some of world’s poorest people who rely almost entirely on the resources of the forest for their survival.

Sound & Fair and it’s international partners, are now promoting a source of sustainably harvested timber, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and Nicholas Daniel has committed his support to persuade both instrument manufacturers to use it and consumers to demand instruments made from it.

Nicholas Daniel says: “In the next few months the first ever crop, a sizeable one, of FSC-certified African blackwood, will be available to be made into instruments.

“I am so excited and proud to be involved with this remarkable project, that pays for the first time a proper rate to growers in Tanzania, one of the poorest countries in the world.

The world’s first harvest of FSC-certified African blackwood was carried out in December 2009 in Kikole village forest reserve in southern Tanzania. Kikole received a payment of around £1,200 in return for 15m3 of African blackwood, a sum 400 times greater more than they would have received before FSC-certification.

Nicholas Daniel says: “It is time that we, as players, look at the wood of our instruments as something that grew, that someone tended, owned and harvested. It is no longer acceptable that anyone is treated unfairly in the making of our beautiful instruments, or that someone in a country far away with few of the benefits we have suffers as a result of our search for beauty.

“We can help directly in this situation, and we can make a difference. We just need to express our commitment and enthusiasm for FSC-certified wood with our makers, and make it clear that we want a fair deal for growers in Tanzania.”

The wood is currently being processed at an FSC-certified sawmill in Tanzania and will shortly be exported to the UK for use by the woodwind instrument manufacturers.

Nicholas Daniel will be performing and talking about African blackwood at the International Double Reed Society Conference in Oklahoma, USA, from 22-26 June 2010.