East African blackwood is the common name for Dalbergia melanoxylon, the most valuable timber growing in the miombo woodlands of southern Tanzania, and a potential flagship species to justify conservation of this habitat. The population density, structure and exploitation of this economically and socially important species were studied in an area of southern Tanzania. Harvestable timber was found at a density of 1.03 m3 ha−1. Multi-stemmed trees, which have a lower marketable value, were more frequent in burned areas. Local people have a number of uses for the species but have replacements for all but its medicinal application. Felling licence and export figures are inconsistent but suggest that illegal harvesting is occurring. The implications of these results for the species' flagship status and options for community-based management are discussed.
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