Dilemmas in Conservationism in Colonial Zimbabwe, 1890 to 1930

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Date
2006
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Abstract
"During the period between 1890 and 1930, European farmers and miners established commercial farms and mines in the Mazoe District of colonial Zimbabwe. The colonial cash economy was dependent on state support in expropriating natural resources at the expense of indigenous people. Miners received preferential treatment in timber and energy requirements from the government because they contributed the bulk of state revenue. This policy was a source of protracted conflict between miners and farmers over forest exploitation. However, the state also sought to orient settler farmers towards the production of export crops: tobacco, maize and cotton. The two major pillars of the colonial economy, mining and agriculture, directly caused a fundamental transformation in soil and forest use, leading to deforestation and soil erosion. Soil erosion was a major risk that was faced along with the logistic and financial difficulties of pioneer farming. It however highlighted the negative impact of settler farming, particularly the perennial cultivation of the same crop on the same field, notably tobacco and maize. Land was used for short-term economic gain. What was missing was a willingness on the part of the settler society to deal effectively with the problems of deforestation and erosion, and the need for radical change in individual and collective attitudes towards natural resources."
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conservation--history, timber--history, soil--history, woodlands--history
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