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From Forestry to Soil Conservation: British Tree Management in Lesotho's Grassland Ecosystem

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Showers, Kate
Journal: Conservation and Society
Volume: 4
Date: 2006
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/3322
Sector: Forestry
Region: Africa
Subject(s): forest management
indigenous knowledge
Abstract: "Unlike wooded savannas closer to the equator, Lesotho's grassland ecosystem supports few trees. Where topography provides protection from cold winds, or concentrations of ground water mitigate atmospheric drought, hardy species of trees grow. Basotho valued their wooded patches, as well as individual trees, as defenses against cold and for construction. Trees were protected vegetation, managed as common property by the chiefs for the benefit of all. Arriving Europeans did not know about, or understand, this system of protection. Nineteenth century missionaries cut down most of the riparian trees for construction and fuel. The twentieth century British Basutoland government implemented tree planting programmes, despite limited acceptance by the Basotho and high rates of mortality. An explanation for continued tree planting activities in the face of obvious failure can be found in an analysis of the importance of environmental narratives to government officials. A set of beliefs about trees' universal ecological benefits prevented officials from accepting evidence to the contrary."

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