NGS / Buffett Awardee

Makala Jasper

Forester and Conservationist

Picture of Makala Jasper

Photograph courtesy Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative

Makala Jasper, a skilled forester and dedicated conservationist, is chief executive officer of the Mpingo Conservation & Development Initiative (MCDI), a Tanzanian nonprofit committed to improving the well-being of rural communities—as well as the forests upon which they rely.

Founded in 2004, MCDI pioneered community-based forest management in southeastern Tanzania. Today, MCDI supports more than 55,000 men, women and children in 35 communities, empowering local people to take control of and sustainably manage their forests while providing economic benefits and improving livelihoods.

Among its many accomplishments, MCDI empowered its 35 involved communities to secure user rights to 350,000 hectares (approximately 864,869 acres) of forest. On average, the communities have set aside 32 percent of their forestland for sustainable management. MCDI also led the first-ever commercial timber harvest of a community-managed natural forest in Tanzania, resulting in a more than 100-fold increase in local earnings per cubic meter. In addition, MCDI received the first—and to date only—Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for a community-managed natural forest in Africa, enabling the supported communities to earn more than $315,000 in FSC-certified timber sales.

Picture of Makala Jasper

Photograph courtesy Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative

Communities use their sustainable timber profits to meet their development needs. Some examples include:

  • Building schools and supporting facilities, including a house for a primary school teacher;
  • Constructing a solar-powered local marketplace and a midwife’s house;
  • Subsidizing nearly 200 local expectant mothers to ensure they receive proper health care;
  • Purchasing school uniforms for more than 300 primary school students; and
  • Providing health insurance to more than 200 elders so that they have free access to medical care.

Said Mama Hadija Makokoto, one of MCDI’s beneficiaries: “I know the value of the forest, so I will protect it.”

In recognition of his long-term commitment to community-centered conservation in Tanzania, Jasper recently received the Whitley Fund for Nature 2016 Whitley Award, donated by the World Wildlife Fund-United Kingdom, at a ceremony at The Royal Geographical Society in London.

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