Conservationism in Zimbabwe : 1850-1950

Vimbai Kwashirai



The British South Africa Company colonised Zimbabwe in 1890 expecting to finding rich gold deposits and when these hopes were dashed, white settlers turned their interest to other resources, land and forests. The rapidity with which the BSAC surveyed forest resources was testament to their expected commercial value. The mkusi and other commercial species motivated the government to gazette and establish eight state forest reserves in North-Western Matabeleland with a combined total of 1.6 million acres. In the company era, timber merchants exploited gusu with little or no control and their activities resulted in much deforestation.


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Vimbai Kwashirai is a Zimbabwean and Oxonian scholar. His research interests are in economic and environmental issues, specifically in modern Zimbabwe, and Africa more generally.