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Sic utere tuo ut alienam non laedas. From wanton destruction of timber forests to environmentalism: The rise of colonial environmental and 'sustainability' practices in colonial Zimbabwe, 1938-1961.


This article examines the roots of colonial Zimbabwe's culture of environmentalism--described, here, as increasing social awareness of the rapid deterioration of the environment and the pressing need to take decisive action to counteract it. It argues that only a one-sided story--namely colonial conservationist discourses and practices especially as they pertained to African reserves in colonial Zimbabwe and other parts of Southern and Eastern Africa - has been the object of myriad historical analyses. Yet, there is a corresponding story that seems to have fallen between the seams of history as it is rarely articulated in Zimbabwean historiography in a systematic and comprehensive way, i.e. the origins of a colonial environmentalism--one focused more on reinforcing white settlers' sustainable uses of natural resources and less on Africans. It chronicles how the once verdant landscapes of colonial Zimbabwe were transformed into near waste in the first four decades of colonial occupation from 1890; highlights how the diverse voices of environmental concern that appeared at the time compelled the colonial Zimbabwean state finally to institute the Commission of Inquiry into the Preservation of the Natural Resources of the Colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1938; and examines how this Commission's recommendations became the basis for the establishment of a number of institutional regulatory systems to initiate an efficiency-oriented approach to the management of the colony's natural resources. It highlights how the notion of 'sustainability' was infused into the Commission's Report and became such a powerful trope that it laid the basis for subsequent institutional and legal environmental resource management in colonial Zimbabwe, surviving intact into the first two decades of postcolonial rule. The article further explores how the farmer-miner conflict unfolded beyond the McIlwaine Commission and how the Natural Resources Board finally led to a successful resolution of the conflict in 1961. The McIlwaine Commission Report attests to rising social and environmental concern at the ongoing ecological decline of the colony's resources, resulting in the realisation of a resolute response in order to guarantee the sustainability and welfare of white settler society.


Environmentalism, colonialism, conservation, environmental degradation, natural resources, sustainability, timber, Zimbabwe


In 1890, Cecil Rhodes and his British South Africa Company (BSAC) formally colonised Zimbabwe. As the objective of founding a modern colonial and industrial state evolved, the BSAC and other emerging economic interests increasingly saw colonial Zimbabwe's verdant landscapes as assets to be utilised for the sake of 'progress' and profit-making. From the inception of the colonisation process, therefore, a process of ecological transformation immediately set in. But this act of 'ecological adventurism', to borrow a phrase from Winant, (2) in which forests would be denuded of their timber, rivers dammed, etc. would result in severe consequences for the indigenous African people, the European settlers themselves and the environment. In the 1950s, W.W. Speid, a resident of Bulawayo--the city that grew to become the colony's industrial hub and its second largest city after Harare (then Salisbury)--captured in her Conservation Song, how European settlement turned Matebeleland's once pristine environment under its Ndebele rulers (Mzilikazi and Lobengula) into an ecological wasteland:

When Lobengula ruled the land it wore a mantle green,
  With verdure rich were clothed the hills,
  And streamlets ran in gleaming rills,
  Erosion was not seen.

The earth it wore a mantle bright,
  Because no white man was in sight,
  The land was clad in foliage green,
  Because the white man was not seen.

When white men came they felled trees,
  And cleared the land with speed,
  With ceaseless but misguided toil,
  They bared the earth and robbed the soil,
  Sins which they did not heed. (3)

Speid's song, replete with ecological implications, clearly grapples with the uneasy relationship between ecological transformation and economic exploitation in the construction of a capitalist colonial state. As was typical with any colonial European settlement within the British Empire, the exploitation of forests came to be emblematic of permanent occupation. (4) From the 1890s, when formal European colonisation and settlement began in colonial Zimbabwe, until about the end of the Second World War, forests were a rich source of construction material and firewood for pioneer farmers and urban-based classes for industrial needs such as railway sleepers. European miners in search of fuel and mine props also extracted these materials from indigenous woodlands in the colony. (5) But from 1903, when the colonial administration accepted that both the mining and the agricultural sectors were to be the fundamental pillars of the colonial economy, and the former was given preferential treatment, there was intense competition over timber resources between the two. Within the first decade of white settlement, therefore, the Zimbabwean countryside was gradually transformed as immigrants altered its landscape in Matebeleland and Mashonaland. The heightened rate of economic development, as well as the expansion of European settlement, had extensive consequences for colonial Zimbabwe's forests as the need for wood and wood-related commodities increased considerably until the late 1930s and early 1940s when the colonial state initiated concerted forest and soil conservation efforts.

Colonial concerns about the conservation and governance of natural resources in colonial Zimbabwe did not first appear in the late 1930s. As in other British settler colonies, conservation discourses around the necessity to preserve natural resources from ecological degradation in colonial Zimbabwe surfaced as early as the 1890s. Conservationist discourses were impelled by European presumptions that Africans were responsible for the ongoing soil erosion taking place on the lands they occupied and tilled, as if they played no catalytic part in producing environmental degradation. (6) This preponderant focus on how conservation discourses and practice played a critical role in the 'transformation of rural societies and their strategies of resource use in the colonial period' (7) is one story that has been replicated in several different ways by various historians of colonial Zimbabwe and elsewhere. Yet, there is a corresponding story that seems to have fallen between the seams of history as it is rarely articulated in Zimbabwean historiography in a methodical and comprehensive manner--the origins of a colonial environmentalism or what Hajer has called 'ecological modernization'--i.e. 'essentially an efficiency-orientated approach to the environment'. (8) This overlooked narrative is about the policy process that laid the basis for Rhodesia's environmentalism which found institutional expression through the Natural Resources Act of 1941 and the Natural Resources Board (NRB) established in 1942 and other environmental instruments of control. Forty years later, following its establishment and consolidation, this new environmental ethos would ironically receive endorsement from an unlikely source, then Prime Minister of independent Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, who, barely five months into office, addressed the First National Conservation Congress of the Natural Resources Board of Zimbabwe, 16 September, 1980 and showered praises on the philosophical underpinnings of the NRB. (9) This may well explain why the NRB and the Natural Resources Act remained intact for some time (as was the case with, for example, wildlife policies), (10) in postcolonial Zimbabwe, regardless of the assurances given by ZANU-PF nationalists that such segregationist laws and institutions would be expunged. However, none of the writings referred to above have examined the historical process that saw the establishment of the basis for the colony's emergence of environmentalism and sustainability, focused, for the most part, on the welfare of the white settler community. (11) What explains this silence? Barton thoughtfully clarifies: 'Because of the democratic aversion to empire, scholars have been hesitant to notice the imperial origins of environmentalism'. (12)

This article explores this muted story by examining the roots of colonial Zimbabwe's culture of environmentalism--here characterised as the increasing social awareness of the rapid deterioration of the environment and the pressing need to take decisive action to counteract it. It chronicles how the once verdant landscapes of colonial Zimbabwe were transformed into near waste in the first four decades of colonial occupation from 1890; highlights how the diverse voices of environmental concern that appeared at the time compelled the colonial Zimbabwean state finally to institute the Commission of Inquiry into the Preservation of the Natural Resources of the Colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1938; and examines how that Commission's recommendations became the basis for the establishment of a number of institutional regulatory systems to initiate an efficiency-oriented approach to the management of the colony's natural resources. It highlights how the notion of 'sustainability' was infused into the Commission's Report and became a powerful trope that laid the basis for subsequent institutional and legal environmental resource management in colonial Zimbabwe, surviving intact into the first two decades of postcolonial rule. The term 'sustainability' merits some discussion, here, as it has been the subject of endless debates for almost decades now. Broadly conceived, sustainability encompasses 'the challenge of how to reconcile human, social and economic activities with the long-term resilience, vulnerability and regenerative capacity of the local-global continuum of ecological systems'. (13) Conceptually, scholars interrogating this notion have been responding to questions that seek to elucidate the connections between 'power, ethics and ecological transformation; how to formulate sensitive environmental policy given imperfect ecological knowledge; and how to approach sustainability within the context of multiple interpretations and strategies of implementation'. (14) Yet, despite its relative recentness, 'the idea of sustainability as a desirable condition is centuries, if not millennia, old'. (15) History abounds with numerous examples derived from 'non-Western societies of cultural systems that for centuries promoted sustainability of the natural environment as a key component of both material survival and cosmology'. (16) In his recent article in Environment and History, Siiskonen reiterates this point: 'even though popular interest in global environmental degradation is quite a new phenomenon, environmental concern and conservationist thinking have their roots as far back as classical Greece'. (17) But what does 'to sustain' natural resources mean? For the purposes of this paper, Sneddon's answer is instructive: 'To sustain production of a resource implies intervention by a conscious being, or a form of stewardship'. (18) Thus, in colonial Zimbabwe a new elite of environmentally-conscious people within the white settler establishment emerged to become prominent champions of ecological sustainability, which was, undoubtedly, linked to the welfare of European settlers in colonial Zimbabwe. (19) As early as the 1920s, agricultural, irrigation and forestry officials had begun to point out that farmers' and miners' crude methods were destroying trees, wetlands, etc. and 'threatened the future production and the future of the colonial project'. (20)

The article further explores how the farmer-miner conflict unfolded beyond the McIlwaine Commission and how the Natural Resources Board finally led to a successful resolution of the conflict in 1961. The McIlwaine Commission Report attests to the rising social and environmental concern at the ongoing ecological decline of the colony's resources resulting in the realisation of a resolute response in order to guarantee the sustainability and welfare of white settler society. The article advances the argument that, after witnessing decades of an evolving environmental crisis, the colonial state reconstituted itself as an indispensable agent of environmental transformation to rescue the white settler community in particular. But, as Anderson and Grove have amply demonstrated, despite laying lasting ecological management institutions to conserve Africa's natural resources, that interest completely overlooked 'the long-established and successful ways in which Africans have ensured their own survival and that of the soils, plants, and creatures which they need in order to live... and which form the basic part of the texture and meaning of rural non-industrial existence'. (21)

This study is a sequel to an earlier one in which I examined how both white settler farmers and white settler miners were, for the period 1903 to 1939, locked into intense struggles over who had the right to own and control natural resources such as land, timber, grazing and water on the Gold Belt--an area of the colony rich in both minerals and agricultural soils. (22) As the dispute proceeded, the heedless destruction of these resources, especially timber, deepened, as no environmental regulatory laws existed at the time. (23) The article stopped short of the moment when the colonial state took concrete steps to reflect on the causes of ecological decline and what to do about them. This study therefore picks up from where the first left off. It, nevertheless, complements earlier writings that have highlighted the enactment of early conservation legislation. McGregor's work focuses largely on Shurugwi in order to determine the diverse explanations of the impact of implementation of conservation legislation and how this 'provoked some of the most widespread rural resistance and also created new environmental problems'. (24) Although she acknowledges the significance of the Natural Resources Act of 1941 and its implementer, the Natural Resources Board, established in 1942, as laying the basis for 'the authoritarian and increasingly technocratic approach', she only mentions it in passing. Beinart and Phimister examine the intentionality of the colonial state in imposing the centralisation policy in African rural areas. (25) While Beinart argues that this was meant to drive a conservationist ethos, Phimister views colonial state intentions in colonial Zimbabwe rather differently and argues that conservation and centralisation programmes served segregationist ends. A number of scholars subsequently took a middle-of-the-road approach and argued that these state programmes actually served a twin purpose. (26) But while a number of social and environmental historians have predominantly focused on the impact of colonial conservation measures on African peasants, a few scholars have gone on to explore the relationship between white settlers and their immediate environments. Just like McGregor's work, Kwashirai's analyses have revealed that, for all their haranguing of Africans for the purported misuse of the environment, white settler farmers and miners were just as wittingly complicit in the ecological disasters within their own economic domains. As in my earlier study, Kwashirai also highlighted the mounting problem of deforestation and soil erosion in colonial Zimbabwe as a result of the activities of both miners and farmers. However, the enforcement of conservation ideas and practices was not restricted to colonial Zimbabwe. As McGregor and other scholars have argued, 'the increasing emphasis on African misuse of the environment also reflected regional trends and was part of a wider scientific culture'. (27) Therefore, understanding the dynamics of the development of environmentalism in colonial Zimbabwe is critical because we can begin to understand why and how it became a model for the white-settler ruled colony of Malawi, for example. In his monograph, Mulwafu shows how, in 1946, the Malawi colonial government established the Natural Resources Board, five years after an institution of the same name and objectives had been formed in colonial Zimbabwe, precisely to enforce the conservation of the natural resources of the colony--water, timber, and minerals. (28) Official discourse about 'backward native populations' wasteful destruction of natural resources' was not only confined to colonial Zimbabwe, as it had become, by the 1930s, a 'dominant theme of Empire-wide discourse'. (29) Similar trends even resonated in German-occupied South West Africa (Namibia) as Harri Siiskonen's recent article mapping the history and origins of German imperial conservation policy in areas exclusively earmarked for European occupation in South West Africa has amply illustrated. (30) Similarly, it was in reaction to this ecological crisis that discourses of environmentalism and sustainability developed and eventually coalesced into practical state-sanctioned regulatory measures from 1938 onwards. An exploration of the historical and ecological transformation of colonial Zimbabwe's landscape and how concerns about the unchecked environmental decline led to the creation of the institutional basis that was to last for the entire duration of colonial rule (1940-1980) is at the centre of this study.


The focal point of white settler economic activities, especially mining and agriculture, in colonial Zimbabwe was the 'Gold Belt'--the area that was rich in minerals and adjoining lands suitable for farming purposes. This area roughly stretched from the Bindura/Mazoe area and more particularly Hartley (now Chegutu), through Gatooma (now Kadoma), Que Que (now Kwekwe), Enkeldoorn (now Chivhu), Gwelo (now Gweru), down to Filabusi and Gwanda. Equally important were areas beyond the Gold Belt where base minerals were mined, i.e. in the Midlands province. Shabani, Belingwe (now Mberengwa) and Mashaba are the areas where asbestos was discovered. Similarly, Selukwe (now Shurugwi) had rich chrome and gold deposits. Apart from their mineral splendour, these areas also had copious indigenous forests. The indigenous timber from these forests came to play a central role in developing the colonial economy in Zimbabwe.

The stupendous vegetation of many lands in colonial Zimbabwe remained moderately untransformed until the formal commencement of capitalist mining and agricultural activities from 1903 onwards. (31) Indeed, a number of eyewitness accounts painted a stunning portrait of what was once a verdant landscape richly endowed with both fauna and a cornucopia of timber forests. For example, Mr. McPhee, manager of the Anglo-French Company, waxed lyrical about the richness and copiousness of the timber in the Belingwe Gold-belt: 'I have never seen in South Africa a block of farms so well-timbered, nothing approaching them--the mountain range for over 20 miles is simply a forest of valuable timber and the mines are in the midst of the timber.' (32) However, as the extent of mining and farming operations increased, there was an analogous increase in forest denudation. But, barely a few years before both mining and agriculture had taken off in earnest, Hammersley-Heenan, a visitor to the Colony, who had previously been enthralled by the luxuriant vegetation he had seen, warned that 'the (timber) supply will soon be exhausted, for with a dozen or so big mills running night and day, the consumptions will be enormous'. (33) He was quite right. A few photographs in articles and books show large collections of tidily arranged chords of timber logs on mines and near flue-curing tobacco barns. The pictures demonstrate the massive destruction of vegetation occasioned by the need to fuel steam engines and other mining machinery. (34)

As early as 1897, reports of the random chopping down of timber in the forests of Matabeleland were beginning to stream into the public domain. One such report came from a South African forestry expert, Herman Blocker, who spent three-and-a-half years in colonial Zimbabwe at the invitation of the BSAC government to assess the richness and quality of the timber forests in the colony. (35) At such an early stage of colonial development, Blocker raised environmental concerns that would eventually beleaguer the colonial state and spur it into action. Blocker extolled the richness of Matabeleland's forests but bemoaned that the Mahobohobo the 'most interesting tree in Matabeleland', was being 'indiscriminately felled' because it made 'splendid timber'. (36) He urged the BSAC government to take serious steps towards forest conservation by establishing a Department of Woods and Forests and also Forest Laws to put an end to 'carelessly caused bush fires, by inflicting very heavy penalties, and by compelling the cutting of fire-lanes through the timbered-districts for isolating fires and limiting their destructive effect'. (37) Despite assurances that Rhodes was favourably disposed to his propositions and that government was obliged to assume responsibility for the preservation and cultivation of native timber', (38) Blocker's advice was barely heeded: by the time Rhodes died in 1902, none of his proposals had, in fact, been implemented, yet the destruction of timber forests was proceeding apace.

Consecutive reports by the Secretary for Agriculture in 1905, 1906, 1907 and 1908 drew the Legislative Council's attention to 'this thoughtless and short-sighted' destruction of the indigenous species. (39) To underline the seriousness of the issue, conscientious Members of Parliament (MPs) also took up the issue of timber destruction in Legislative Council debates. In 1908, Herbert T. Longden, a Midlands district MP, asked in the Legislative Council, 'what steps, if any, the Government has taken, or intends to take, to arrest the reckless and indiscriminate destruction of indigenous timber?' (40) In subsequent years, more reports about the degraded state of indigenous woodlands exposed the regularity with which the environmental scourge was evolving. Although these state officials appear to have been concerned, their incapacity to act, in spite of being in positions of power, is unfathomable. Regardless of such pronouncements, an anonymous writer to the Gatooma Mail and Mining Gazette was riled by the apparent apathy of the Government in response to the unfolding environmental crisis and urged it to embark on a programme of re-afforestation because 'it is essential a scheme should at once be initiated and put into continuous operation to make good the devastation which is in progress'. (41)

In light of the overwhelming evidence and the intense calls for the formulation of a systematic timber conservation plan, the first tentative response came in 1917 when W. Martin Watt, who had earlier published an article in the Rhodesian Agricultural Journal on measures to avert soil erosion, promoted the introduction of legislation aimed at thwarting the clearing of trees and vegetation within fifty feet of public streams. (42) Watt's campaign was shored up, that same year, by yet another campaigner for the preservation of natural resources, Justice Robert McIlwaine (Judge of the Water Court of the Colony). Justice MclIwaine raised the public's awareness to the mounting problem of soil erosion, which, he argued, had a catastrophic effect on ground water supply levels. The judge's proposition persuaded the Government to incorporate new regulations into the existing Mines and Minerals Act to 'protect all timber within 200 feet of the banks of all public streams'. (43)

Despite these incipient attempts towards the creation of a legal framework for the management of the colony's natural resources, colonial Zimbabwe was still far from establishing a coherent conservation bureaucracy comparable to those that were developing in South Africa and other colonies in the British empire. In fact, Kwashirai has aptly characterised the period encompassing this preliminary step--that is, 1890?1920--as 'a trial and error period for soil and forest conservation'. (44) Although the state and some private individuals had attempted to conserve the colony's natural resources, these efforts tended to be fragmentary and poorly coordinated. Moreover, other classes seemed totally indisposed to ideas about conservation. For instance, at times government officials representing the mining sector could hardly hide their exasperation against the failure or reluctance of farmers to replenish the vanishing indigenous timber forests, as the Mining Commissioner of Salisbury (Harare) complained, blaming the farmer but not the miner:

I would again urge the necessity of taking steps to encourage the
replenishing of the timber resources of this country, which are rapidly
diminishing, and I think we must look to the farmers to do this. The
question of timber is a serious one for the miner, as in many parts of
the country wood for fuel or timbering purposes is almost unobtainable.

It is ironic that, given the history of conflict that subsisted between the miner and the farmer precisely over who between them should have the power and authority to access timber resources, the Mining Commissioner had the impudence to turn to the farmer to solve an environmental problem that had been, for the most part, perpetrated by his arch-rival. Far from condemning the miner for his voracious appetite for timber without regard for where he would get the next supply, the Mining Commissioner seemed to exonerate the latter and laid this responsibility firmly on the shoulders of the farmer.

But, as Brown has insightfully concluded: 'in practice, however, the balance between the long-term conservation to tackle a supposed "timber famine" and the demands of settler mining and logging companies was politically and ecologically, problematic. The needs of the latter often took precedence over environmental issues'. (46) As a result, although the destruction of timber at times caused some concern among a few civil servants, this anxiety hardly translated into the rise of a modern conception of environmentalism, that is 'with all its varied implications of ecological balance, biota preservation, water flow, soil, air, and climate stability', as Barton defined it. (47) This was, nevertheless, to come towards the end of the 1930s, but not before the 'landscape of clearing' (48) became palpably desolate in African Reserves as the section below graphically shows.


As the Gold-Belt title farms, 'on which wood may be cut without payment' became depleted, as indicated in a report by the Acting Chief Native Commissioner to the Prime Minister in 1926, (49) and as the much-sought-after species of timber disappeared from the proximity of productive mines and enterprises, mining companies and contractors turned to African reserves where timber could still be found in relative abundance. Correspondence between the Chief Native Commissioner and government officials confirms this. In the mid-1920s a number of mines were reported to be cutting wood in African Reserves without the permission of the Government. For example, the Shabanie and Nil Desperandum Mines cut timber in the Lundi Reserve in Belingwe (now Mberengwa) District; the Lonely Mine cut its timber in the Shangani Reserve; the Antelope in the Shabanie Reserve; the Occupation and other mines extracted timber from the Umsingwane (Umzingwane) Reserve; the Wedza Mine in the Wedza Reserve; and several other small mines obtained their requirements from the Uzumba and Mtoko Reserves. (50) But Lundi, in particular, bore the brunt of being denuded of timber by asbestos mining companies. The area deserves a detailed attention for it represents a classic example of what transpired in an area where there was no legal protection for proper forest management and conservation. So bad was the timber-cutting enterprise by contractors that some colonial state officials who witnessed the extreme levels of denudation appealed for measures to contain and prevent further devastation. Such pleas resulted in the passage of the Native Reserves Forest Produce Act of 1929.

On 11 September 1926, two colonial state officials, Arthur C. Bagshawe, the Secretary of Mines, and the Acting Chief Native Commissioner (CNC), Mr Jackson, visited Shabani District and went straight to Lundi Reserve, comprising 155,700 acres, a population of 4,453 and 15,000 head of cattle. (51) They were on a mission to investigate the rate of wood clearing by mine contractors in the district. Both officials went deep into the Reserve to a distance of between to and three miles and detected, as a result of the extent of cutting that had already taken place, firstly that a Mr Papenfus, contractor to the Shabanie Mine, had erected a 'large well-built Native Compound' between two and three miles into the confines of the Reserve. According to information they received from local Africans, this compound had been built about nine months prior to their visit and had been fully occupied since then, indicating permanency of the Contractor. Secondly, as the acting CNC reported, 'a very large number of cords of firewood and many large timber trees had been cut', and 'it was admitted that 600 stacks now lie in the Reserve awaiting transport'. (52) Although the two officials did not physically see these stacks of wood, African eyewitnesses informed them that 'they covered a wide area of up to four miles from the Reserve boundary'. (53) Thirdly, they claimed to have literally observed 'numerous woodcutting roads... on all sides to the material... of lasting damage to the Reserves'. (54) Fourth, they were told that 'the Native owners of gardens had removed them [i.e. the gardens] owing to the depletion of grazing and water by the contractor's cattle, and that gardens had been destroyed by the same cattle'. (55) Lastly, Bagshawe and Jackson also observed that 'in the cutting of the wood no attempt has been made to gather up brushwood and other debris which litters a large area'. (56) An additional environmental depredation suffered by the Lundi Reserve was that an estimated 6,000 head of transport cattle were employed in shipping asbestos through the Reserve to Selukwe with the result that 'for a considerable stretch on each side of the main road the grazing is exhausted early in each season'. (57)

The two officials concluded that Papenfus did as he pleased, for he 'treated the Reserve as a free grazing ground for quite 150 transport oxen and that he behaved without due regard for Native rights'. (58) Above all, he had moved cattle without the necessary permit. The case of Papenfus forced the two officials to raise questions about the ability of mine management to effectively control a woodcutting contractor who, in any case, was almost always beyond its gaze. What accentuated Bagshawe and Jackson's concerns about the state of environmental depletion was that, when they were still in Shabanie, the Shabanie Mine Management had entered into a significant wood contract with the proprietor of the 'huge' Zeederberg Block. To be sure, as they traversed the country between Shabani and Belingwe they 'passed through nearly six miles of a practically untouched supply of timber and firewood on this Block'. (59) Irked by the probability of having more timber recklessly chopped, the acting CNC proposed ways 'to save the wood remaining on the Reserve'. (60) Concurring with the Assistant Native Commissioner at Shabani, he concluded that, given that miners and contractors were obliged to cut timber for free under the Mines and Minerals Act, 'the best, if not the most effective means of delaying utter denudation is by exacting payment of tariff rates'. (61) The acting CNC proceeded to lament that, at the rate at which contractors were cutting a swathe through indigenous woodlands in the reserves, 'it seems certain that the day is rapidly approaching when these mines will be driven to use coal in place of wood'. (62) He therefore vehemently appealed to the Government 'in the interests of the natives, not only of the Lundi but of other Reserves' about the need for 'a thorough examination of the legal position in respect of wood'. (63) To buttress their petition, both the Secretary of Mines and the acting CNC proposed more recommendations for the consideration of the Minister of Mines, just as a provisional measure, as the resolution of the Government regarding the broad issue of timber cutting for the purposes of mining in African Reserves was still under consideration.

Firstly, they called for woodcutting to be placed under a permit authorised in each and every case by the Native Commissioner of the District once the Mine Management had applied for one. (64) Secondly, the permit had to stipulate the number of trees to be cut as well as the area where the timber was to be cut. Thirdly, cattle for shipping the timber were not to be 'kraaled' in the Reserve, but would only be permitted for the specific purpose of ferrying the wood and 'will not be spanned except that while wood is being loaded the oxen may be tied to the yokes'. In the specific case relating to the contractor, Papenfus, the removal of the 800 stacks of wood he had already chopped was to be organised only on condition that the Native Commissioner had been satisfied that the Chief Veterinary Surgeon was also content that the movement of the contractor's wagons was safe. Finally, woodcutting camps lacking transport at the time of cutting had to be allowed under reasonable restrictions, at the discretion of the authorities. (65)

These recommendations appear to have nudged the government in the direction of instituting environmental protection strategies perhaps never considered in this way before. It is not clear if these two officials were concerned about the state of environmental degradation in the reserves in their individual capacities or if they drew their mandate from higher offices. However much these officials seemed concerned with the extent of deforestation in the African reserves, they could not propose measures that would be perceived to be hindering mining operations, given its over-exaggerated importance to the economy of colonial Zimbabwe, as indicated at the beginning of this article. They were careful to strike a balance between ensuring that timber was not recklessly chopped in ways that would denude the Reserves, leading to other environmental complications such as soil erosion, and promoting economic growth and ensuring that supplies for genuine mining purposes were not hindered. (66)

Clearly, for most of the first four decades since the beginning of white settler occupation the colonial state seemed to have pursued an economic development thrust at whatever cost. But the pursuit of economic progress sacrificed environmental considerations until such time that there was incontrovertible evidence of the continuing irrepressible degradation of natural resources. This ecological reality seemed to have finally awakened some state officials from their slumber. Hence the calls to action to redress the goings-on in the African reserves alluded to above. From the mid-1920s onwards, it seems as if that moment of reckoning when environmental protection issues could no longer take a back seat had arrived, if the pleas and call for action from men no lesser than the Secretary of Mines and the acting CNC are anything to go by.

Most of these proposals found their way into regulations that were formally instituted to govern the extraction of increasingly scarce timber resources. These recommendations found legislative expression in the Native Reserves Forest Produce Act 36 of 1929. Under this Act, the CNC, as directed by the Minister of Native Affairs, was given the powers to control and manage woodlands on African Reserves. Depending on the abundance of forest produce and its availability free of charge for the 'present and future needs of the Native inhabitants', the CNC, 'may dispose of surplus or excess forest products by sale... and... may issue licences and permits to fell, cut, take, work, and/or remove any forest produce'. (67) The Act was underpinned by an unusual pervading sense of environmental discernment. With contractors like Papenfus in mind, the Act provided for the punishment of those considered responsible for 'damage caused by reckless felling and removal of timber or other forest produce or through any carelessness or neglect of himself or his employees'. Furthermore, 'all trees authorised to be cut under licence or permit must be felled not more than ten inches above the surface of the ground, and all wood from felled trees shall be utilised in as efficient a manner as possible'. (68) Africans could cut wood in the Reserve in which they resided 'for their own use', but they were not allowed to sell or supply it to non-Africans. This was obviously not only directed at white contractors and mining companies but also to ensure that Africans did not end up economically benefitting from the selling of timber and present a challenge to the economic interests of white settlers. The Act listed the types of trees that they were not allowed to be cut down in African Reserves. (69) This Act became 'the first piece of conservation legislation which provided for state regulation of resource use specifically within the native reserves'. (70) But, as McGregor has once again amply demonstrated, such 'conservation interventions in the native reserves were drawn into local level struggles over political authority and themselves provoked new struggles'. (71) Regardless of the support rendered to miners' rights within some sections of the colonial state, the growing awareness of the deplorable state of the timber forests as a result of the palpable out-of-control deforestation eventuated in a new consensus on the need to act decisively--a process that set the stage for the emergence of a cohesive colonial ecological transformation and the policy process.


The 1930s was the era of ostensible Government intervention following the devastating effects of the depression. Among other negative developments, overwhelming evidence of soil erosion and a wanton abuse of resources such as timber forests ultimately bringing about detrimental ecological effects on the colony's landscapes necessitated the enactment of conservation legislation. The evidence presented above had failed to incite much government action towards the conservation and preservation of timber forests. This was largely because following the 'reconstruction era' of colonial Zimbabwe's gold mining production, lasting from 1903 to 1910, the industry was put on a firm and profitable footing. As a result, for fear of disturbing the just established order, 'the policies which were implemented remained as constant features for much of the next forty years'. (72) During this period, therefore, the state tinkered very little with the contentious Mines and Minerals Act which gave preferential treatment to miners over farmers by giving them unhindered access to timber forests. Hence, for most of the time prior to the end of the Second World War, environmental protection was on the backburner, as capitalist development seemed to take precedence over everything else in colonial Zimbabwe and most of the colonial world. (73)

Just as had transpired in other settler societies, as environmental historians such as Grove (74), Griffiths and Robin (75) and Barton (76) have demonstrated, the impulsion to conserve nature in Zimbabwe arose when the colonial state became startled by the rapid pace of environmental despoliation. As much as the colonial state played a central role in capitalist development and racial segregation, its role in fostering colonial environmental sustainability for the benefit of the white settler community needs to be acknowledged in response to Sneddon's well-grounded critique that 'the neglect [i.e. of the state] in a majority of works that examine sustainability... is indefensible'. (77) This is a logical criticism because, as Sneddon, drawing on the work of Blaikie, (78) states: 'within the conceptual framework of political ecology, the state comprises the "chain of explanation" for environmental transformation'. (79) As such, based on this view, 'the state will have subtle and profound effects upon both civil society and the specific agents' who make 'productive decisions which bring about ecological transformations'. (80) Thus, the colonial state, which had used its considerable power to shape the economic development trajectory during the initial years of colonial settlement, now exerted its force on miner-farmer resource conflicts and exploitation and assumed the role of 'environmental manager'. (81) It produced environmental and social strategies that had extensive ramifications, as we shall see in the discussion that follows throughout the remainder of this article. The colonial state, and particularly the government of Prime Minister Godfrey Huggins, (82) was compelled to set up a scientific, efficient and rational way of preserving and conserving the colony's resources. It was this kind of 'modern environmentalism' that underscored the relationship of Europeans with their environment on the one hand, and state regulation of resource use and access in African Reserves, on the other. (83) The rise of an internal environmental conservation practice in colonial Zimbabwe reinforces Grove's thesis that nature conservation in settler colonies was pioneered from within settler colonies themselves and engendered alternative European assessments of nature. (84) The colonial state in Zimbabwe began this process by appointing, in 1938, a Commission to Enquire into the Deterioration and Preservation of the Natural Resources of Southern Rhodesia (chaired by Mr. Justice Mcllwaine--hereinafter the McIlwaine Commission). (85) The Mcllwaine Commission was asked to do two things. Firstly, it was requested 'to enquire into and report upon the extent to which the natural resources of the Colony are deteriorating or being wasted through:

(a) soil erosion; (b) destruction of trees, grasses and other
vegetation, whether taking place in the course of farming and mining
operations or otherwise; (c) overstocking and improper or undesirable
methods of farming and treatment of land; (d) interference with the
natural courses, catchment areas, swamps or other sources of streams or
rivers; (e) any other causes'. (86)

Secondly, the commission was asked to 'make recommendations regarding the methods deemed most effective and expedient for preventing, controlling and checking such deterioration and waste and restoring, conserving and increasing such natural resources'. (87)

The men selected to lead this commission were men who had actively raised the alarm and awareness of the extent of the degradation of the colony's natural resources. It is no wonder that they were to infuse the principles and traditions of most of their pronouncements and positions into colonial conservation policy and legislation. So forceful were the ideas of the learned chairman of the Commission, Justice Mcllwaine, and one of the commissioners, Arthur Cyril Jennings, a Director of Irrigation (1921-1924), that it is important to dwell, for a while, on their articulation of the environmental crisis that manifestly threatened the colony's future economic productivity. It could be said that McIlwaine's ideas laid a firm foundation for the conservation blue-print which eventuated in the passage of the Natural Resources Act (1941) and other related Acts such as the Forest Act No. 37 of 1949 and the creation of institutions such as the NRB and the Mining Timber Permit Board (MTPB). These developments not only synchronised but also signified the end of what had been, since the beginnings of colonial occupation, the chaotic and exploitative tradition egged on by the colonial state's laissez-faire attitude. These men were also later to become the first experts to implement the environmental policies they themselves had helped to craft and articulate.


In 1937, a year before the McIlwaine Commission was set up, McIlwaine wrote a lengthy treatise titled 'Conservation of the Colony's Natural Wealth' addressed to the Minister of Justice. It is clear from the tenor of this exposition that he was deeply perturbed by what he called 'the wicked waste of the natural wealth of the country'. (88) Having lived in colonial Zimbabwe for almost forty years this, he claimed, was 'one of my most painful experiences'. (89) As early as the 1930s, the notion of 'environmental sustainability', so much in vogue in today's sustainable development livelihoods literature, underlay his ecological perspectives and proclamations--proving Sneddon's point that the concept has a much longer history than is sometimes admitted. (90) The idea of sustainability played a critical role in defining the basis for conservation in colonial Zimbabwe. McIlwaine contended that it was imperative that colonial Zimbabwe's wealth 'be regarded as a trust belonging to the country as a whole and should not be destroyed or impaired by those into whose temporary charge it comes'. (91) McIlwaine was also troubled by a rampant practice by people in the colony who obtained lands developed by the 'growths and deposits of many generations', but went on to transform it into a 'wilderness' by pursuing a number of detrimental activities such as 'grass burning, unskillful farming, careless mining activities (my emphasis), the letting of land to undesirable tenants and in many other ways well-known to anyone who has his eyes open to what is going on'. (92) McIlwaine contended that, however much people may be entitled to do what they enjoyed doing with their possessions, it had to be remembered that there was a rule which took precedence over such prerogatives enshrined in the legal aphorism 'sic utere tuo ut alienam non laedas', which meant 'use your own rights so that you do not hurt those of another'. (93) He warned that 'those who abuse the gift of nature most certainly do irreparable harm to the whole community'. (94)

McIlwaine lamented how several landscapes 'once richly wooded and a joy to the eye, where livestock could get shade and streams had their sources', had been transformed into 'barren wastes of no use to man or beast'. (95) This, for him, was sufficient reason for making vigorous efforts to preserve indigenous trees. He singled out mines as the biggest culprits which caused a colossal destruction of indigenous timber woodlands. Even more disconcerting for McIlwaine was that some of these mines had 'even been a loss to those who invested capital in them'. (96)

Echoing similar observations raised earlier in this article, McIlwaine wrote fervently about how he had witnessed, first-hand, how a district which had remained relatively untouched had suddenly had its timber hacked for the purposes of supplying the mines:

I know a district where, up to now, the well-wooded hills have been a
thing of beauty and the source of streams valuable for the irrigations
of good land. I thought that distance from towns and mines would save
this area from degradation but, on a recent visit, I found an enormous
stack of poles, obtained by the destruction of fine trees, being
transported some thirty miles by road and 78 miles by rail for use on
mines. (97)

Not only did McIlwaine concede that this was a loss to the colony but he was also not convinced that this enterprise yielded any significant economic dividends to warrant the ongoing consumption of timber resources. McIlwaine was, nevertheless, concerned about the resultant appearance of the landscape if the mines continued with their unconstrained practices, and argued that a rather transient economic imperative was being underscored at a huge environmental cost. To solve these problems, he called for radical solutions such as the closure of those worthless, loss-making, timber-gobbling mines which could only survive by exhausting the natural wealth of the country. Similarly, he argued that mines that were making good profits could certainly afford to use alternative sources of fuel and the growing of trees specifically earmarked for mining purposes would become a lucrative venture. He found it incomprehensible that a mine in a remote district was reportedly 'burning valuable wood, such as native mahogany'. He reasoned that there was no need for burning good timber for domestic uses. McIlwaine went on to suggest that if wood was required for that purpose there was lots of wood of inferior quality to be used for that purpose. (98) Invoking yet another legal dictum 'salus populi suprema lex (regard for the public welfare is the highest law)', McIlwaine made a case for the Government to take action on the basis of this principle for the wellbeing of the entire colony 'before it was too late', as 'each year the waste increases and remedial measures become difficult'. (99)

McIlwaine's disquiets struck a chord with those of Arthur Cyril Jennings, with whom he was to later serve on the Commission of Inquiry. Jennings had previously worked as a Director of Irrigation and had therefore worked with the Water Court Judge. They would have, at the very least, shared similar concerns about the conservation of water resources. Jennings, in response to McIlwaine's draft minute, agreed with its contents entirely, for he too had for a number of years been 'greatly concerned about the deterioration I have seen going on from one end of the country to the other, consisting of destruction of timber, the misuse of natural vleis or sponges, overstocking and general denudation of pasturage'. (100) While recognising the work that was being done by some landowners to arrest soil erosion and the wastage of other resources, Jennings was distressed by the fact that such efforts, although 'commendable in every way', barely, 'strike at the root of the trouble and do little more than correct the damage already done to their arable lands'. (101) For Jennings, these attempts at restoring nature were, at best, fragmented. Nothing short of the 'awakening of the national conscience and a much more concerted effort if many areas are to be saved from ultimate destruction' would encumber the unfolding ecological crisis. (102) In Jennings' scheme of things, the time had arrived for vigorous Government intervention, one requiring a national, rather than individualised, response. He urged the Government to pass a 'Natural Resources Act' to enable it to legally contain environmental degradation.

Evidence submitted to the Natural Resources Commission in 1938, by and large, resonated with most of the views conveyed by the two commissioners. Some of the compelling evidence came from government officials who had had the opportunity to traverse the length and breadth of the colony and had witnessed for themselves the continuing despoliation of its natural resources. F. Gillwald Jnr., a Senior Inspector of Lands, provided such evidence that he had gathered 'over a lengthy period' as he crisscrossed the country to inspect and report on the state of Crown Land in the colony. (103) He singled out the attitude of both the farming and mining communities and took umbrage at their thoughtless disregard for 'appropriate' land-use methods. He observed that there was a 'preponderance of indifferent units which regard the land not as a means to an end but an end in itself, which like the proverbial goose, must be slaughtered to extract the wealth'. (104) Gillward fingered farmers working in the well-known tobacco districts of colonial Zimbabwe, such as Lomagundi, Mazoe, Salisbury, Mrewa, Marandellas and Makoni, as the main perpetrators in the indiscriminate destruction of timber which, he regretted, had remained unregulated for 'the past ten years'. (105) He had witnessed several farms that had become virtually stripped of their timber resources while others were rapidly following suit. He blamed this on the farmers' practice of stumping virgin lands every year in order to acquire the timber required for heating up their barns and also for preparing ahead of schedule new lands for the new tobacco season. Gillward declared: 'Nature herself is now calling the halt in that she is unable to keep pace with the axe'. (106) Gillward also noted, as a few concerned individuals before him had suggested, that despite all the damage he had witnessed, there were virtually no plans to restore indigenous timber which had been stripped. (107)

Gillward had nothing positive to say about miners' practices either. Noting that, for several decades since colonial occupation, the miners' prerogatives over timber on the Gold Belt farms were supreme over those of farmers, Gillward argued that this right had now been whittled down to fifty per cent but what was characteristic about the miner was that 'he makes sure that he gets it' at all costs. He spoke against miners' practice of widening their activities to far-away places; their wasteful wood clearing methods often the direct cause of soil erosion and loss of grazing. Gillward rapped miners' practice of creating countless tracks that crisscrossed the bush to ferry wood to the mines. These tracks, he argued, often sank into gullies and dongas, eventually rendering them unusable by vehicles when a fresh track was cut. Gillward was particularly irked by what he perceived as the miner's lack of appreciation for the landscape's aesthetic beauty and natural configuration for he simply chopped trees whereever he preferred 'even along water courses and rivers if no one is watching'. (108) The issues raised by Justice McIlwaine, Jennings and Gillward, and the witnesses who testified before the Commission of Inquiry, essentially provided the philosophical rationalisation and the legal machinery for the colonial state's control over all of Zimbabwe's forests.


The McIlwaine Commission Report, submitted to the Government on 28 April 1939 was, as indicated above, infused with ideas about the sustainability of natural resources for the benefit of future generations contained in paragraph 22 of the Report:

Salus populi est suprema lex. (The welfare of the people is the supreme
law!). The conservation of the natural resources of the country is the
concern of every member of the community. Those who during their short
lifetime are entrusted with the handling of the land or other asset of
the country should not be denied the right to use it reasonably, but
they should be regarded as trustees neither entitled to mistreat,
squander nor destroy it regardless of the consequences to future
generations. (109)

While it is difficult to get a global view of how much timber was cleared since mining and agriculture began in colonial Zimbabwe, the McIlwaine Report estimated that, out of 567,000 acres--the area presumed to bear productive forest--an area of 303,000 acres had either been exploited or was already earmarked for exploitation until about 1940. (110) The problem was that commercial enterprises had already been granted concessions to extract trees for the remaining area 'many years ago'. To the Commissioners, herein lay one of the critical problems that led to the uneconomic cutting down of trees. They laid the blame squarely on the 'Government of the time', which in the interest of wanting to institute a new mining industry and, swayed by the arguments of those who wanted to develop it, was perceived to be too generous in the conditions it extended to the concessionaires. All the concessionaires had to pay was a royalty on the timber bought. This gave the concessionaires a blank cheque to recklessly fell trees, resulting in extensive waste. (111) The Commissioners, therefore, called immediate state action to avert the unremitting mismanagement of natural resources. (112)

But, in calling for the establishment of mechanisms to curb the relentless exploitation of timber by miners, the Commissioners treaded cautiously in order not to alienate those sympathetic to this industry. Witnesses to the Commission were divided on how best the timber issue was to be resolved. Two opposing viewpoints emerged from the witnesses who provided evidence to the Commission. On the one hand, the importance of the mining industry to the country was generally recognised and it was argued that under no circumstances should it be hamstrung by restrictions that would make it impossible to get as much wood and timber as required for mining purposes, especially in the absence of alternative sources of energy. On the other hand, there were those who argued that the time had now arrived when the privileges enjoyed by miners had to be revised in keeping with the interests of the entire colonial community. (113) Confronted by these two opposing views, the Commissioners took the position that it was incumbent on the Government, after having considered the measures it deemed essential in the national interest for the purposes of conserving the forests of the colony, to provide the requisite structures for implementing such measures. The Commissioners argued that the restrictive measures would be applicable not only to the miners but to all other industries that used timber. In addition, individual interests as far as the ownership of land concerned would have to be subsumed to the general interests that were to be served. (114)

Thus, in making the recommendations about what the Government needed to provide for a template of the conservation of the forest resources of the colony, the Commissioners first set aside the merits or demerits of the farmer-miner dispute. They observed that the polarisation of relations between the two competing economic groups would not be resolved as long as there was no formal structure to monitor and enforce the preservation of timber. They deemed it necessary to look at why, in the first place, neither the farmer nor the miner had even a semblance of interest in indigenous timber conservation? The Commissioners contended 'that there was nothing to compel or persuade the farmer to generate interest in the indigenous trees or their preservation'. On the other hand, notwithstanding the restrictions embedded in the African Reserves by the Native Reserves Produce Act, 1929, and the restricted reservation that could be enforced under the Mines and Minerals Act, 1935 and the Forest and Herbage Preservation Act, 1936, the miner had enjoyed unfettered access to indigenous forests throughout the colony and indiscriminately felled any species without paying due regard to their value. The Commissioners criticised the Government for not having 'as in most civilized countries' a Forestry Act with the express aim of conserving and using the colony's forest resources in the national interest. (115) They recommended that the Act be introduced as a matter of urgency as it would empower the already existing Division of Forestry to supervise and take care of all forests on unalienated land. They further proposed that this Division would work together with a central board in enforcing the preservation of trees wherever they were in the colony as and when such action was deemed necessary in the public interest. (116) If anything, the McIlwaine Report, 'brought into startling prominence the fact that if the rapidly increasing rate of erosion and destruction was allowed to continue, the very life of the Colony was doomed at no great distant date', as A.W. Redfern, one of the colony's foremost conservation exponents, a future successor to Justice McIlwaine as chairperson of the NRB in the mid-1940s, candidly reflected. (117)


The Commission's candid criticisms and recommendations were well received by the colonial state and they culminated in the introduction of the Natural Resources Act 9 on 1 August 1941, two years after the idea had been mooted. The delay in enacting this law was due to the dearth of manpower and machinery as it had been directed to the Second World War effort. This Act provided for the 'conservation and improvement of the Natural Resources of the Colony and for other matters incidental thereto'. The Act also provided for the creation of a NRB as an 'autonomous' body comprising members appointed by the Governor of Southern Rhodesia, taking into consideration their 'knowledge and experience on matters with which they are likely to be called upon to deal, such as water supplies, agriculture, mining, African areas, forestry, etc.'. (118) The first NRB board was appointed in November 1941 and its members were Sir Robert McIlwaine as Chairperson (until his death in 1943), Humphrey V. Gibbs, H.R. Benzies and W. Sole (see Figure 1).

The NRB also comprised sub-committees on to which were drafted specialists to help in dealing with issues such as wildlife and forests, conservation education, pollution, publicity and technical aspects of conservation relating to mining and agriculture. Furthermore, the NRB was aided by Lands Inspectors whose task was to help the Board in the supervision, promotion and improvement of the conservation of natural resources. For the first time in the colony's history, formidable environmental regulatory structures were installed to deal with any wastage of natural resources and any conflict arising between economic interests over access to them. Given the perpetual conflict between miners and farmers, the NRB came to fulfil a critical role as arbiter between the two sectors of the economy. (119) What followed the creation of these structures and regulations was an immediate exercise in consolidating and implementing them by specifically targeting miners' activities for surveillance, control and punishment of offenders--a job executed by the newly formed watchdog--the Mining Timber Permit Board (MTPB).


To further consolidate the new environmental measures for forest preservation, an additional supporting legislation was passed in the form of the Forest Act (No. 37 of 1949) to specifically regulate the activities of miners in respect of timber extraction. This Act required that, first, 'any rights to timber by a miner be only exercised under permit', and second, 'a miner apply to his Mining Commissioner who issues a temporary permit which remains valid until confirmed, amended or cancelled by the Board'. (120) The Act also provided for the Control of Mining Timber Rights and establishment of a MTPB under section 15 of the Forest Act. Its membership comprised a senior member of the Forest Department (Chairman), a senior member of the Department of Mines, an officer appointed by the NRB and a nominee appointed jointly by the Chamber of Mines and the Rhodesian Mining Federation (Members) with a permanent Secretary. (121) Although the MTPB was a separate body, it was obliged to work closely with the Forest Department, Department of Conservation and Extension and the NRB. (122) It is ironic that the farming sector was not represented on this board. This is perplexing, given the farmer-miner struggles over legal rights to timber resources regularly obtained from farms. Since the promulgation of the Natural Resources Act in 1941, the passage of the Forest Act and its subsidiary controlling aspects such as the MTPB were perhaps the second most serious indication of the extent to which the colonial state was taking the conservation of the country's natural resources, though belatedly because it came only a decade after the release of the McIlwaine Report.

The MTPB had powers to either suspend or rescind any permit if it was convinced that any of the permit conditions were being fouted. Much like the Native Forest Produce Act of 1929, the MTPB had the power to order any approved official to inspect any given place from which timber was being drawn and to report to it. It also possessed the powers to gather evidence and undertake investigations as it saw fit in order to judiciously arrive at a decision to suspend, revoke or refuse a permit. Finally, the MTPB had the power to give conditions which it reckoned to be necessary with regards to: the duration of the validity of the permit; the place from timber may be hauled or may not be shipped; the size and grade of timber which may be exploited; the method of cutting the timber; and, lastly, the manner and path by which it was to be transported. To those who may have doubted the MTPB's commitment to conserving the country's timber resources by regulating the miners, its philosophical approach may well have been reassuring. The MTPB began by embracing the orthodox view that the mining industry was the lynchpin of colonial Zimbabwe's economy and, as such, conceded that mining timber had to be made accessible to the mines. But in keeping with the emerging environmentalist thinking inaugurated by the McIlwaine Report, the MTPB emphatically asserted that, at the same time, 'the mining timber resources of the Colony can be apportioned to miners in such a way that there will be sufficient timber for all'. (123) The MTPB hastened to add that, 'by careful cutting and choice of cutting areas, wastage of timber will be considerably reduced and the natural timber resources of the Colony can thus be maintained'. (124) This was intended to check the prolonged tree-clearing recklessness perpetuated alongside industrial expansion in the colony.

The MTPB began on an amiable note by offering an olive branch to those who were miners on the eve of the inaugural implementation of the Forest Act. It excused such miners from acquiring a mining timber permit for twelve months, presumably so as not to antagonise an industry it had acknowledged as being of fundamental importance to the economy and to avoid any potential lawsuits by disgruntled miners. The MTPB membership placed huge emphasis on issuing mining timber permits, prudent examination of the cases and, more significantly, on checking the real tree-cutting operations at regular intervals to ensure that 'all cutting is done in the best interests of the remaining or future crop'. (125) The MTPB therefore effectively began to exercise its regulatory powers on the miners in 1950 so that by December of that year it had issued 94 permits. In processing the first couple of permit applications, the MTPB enlisted the assistance of a number of Government officials, especially soil conservation and forest officials. However, this proved to be an unworkable arrangement as it soon became clear to the MTPB that these officials lacked both time and transport resources to continue rendering such a service. Thus the MTPB hit its first snag. But, if it was to make an indelible impression on the miners about the depth of its seriousness in introducing orderly and efficient ways of obtaining timber, it had to swiftly rectify these initial setbacks. Without enough manpower to conduct physical inspections, the MTPB felt reduced to a mere 'confirming authority' since all it did was to sanction provisional permits issued by Mining Commissioners. (126) The board also felt that imposing conditions on miners without frequent inspection would only encourage 'a complete disregard of the conditions'. (127)

Nonetheless, the situation improved slightly when, in July 1951, the Forestry Department seconded an Inspector and more forest and soil conservation officers to the MTPB to conduct more inspections in different conservancies. By December, the MTPB had approved 306 mining timber permits, which translated to the cutting of 2,184,967 cubic feet of timber, and 53,560 cords of fuelwood for 4,399 huts accommodating mostly African mineworkers. (128) Upon assuming his duties, the inspector assessed 21 cases covering 3,152 miles. The inspector focused mainly on Gwanda, Gatooma, Selukwe and Gwelo districts. The MTPB celebrated this initial intervention as a 'big improvement' in the miners' modes of timber exploitation. (129) The introduction of the mining timber permits system enabled the MTPB to give a relatively accurate depiction of the mining industry's requirements of indigenous timber for the first time in the colony's history. For example, the Chief Conservator of Forests estimated that, for the first nine months of 1951, permits covering roughly 1,183,000 cubic feet of mining timber, and thousands of cords of firewood and timber for construction of huts were granted. (130) Prior to the creation of the MTPB, such precise estimations would not have been possible.

But the MTPB's initial inroads into the ecological problems facing the colony were often tempered by the unwillingness of the mining community to cooperate with inspection officers. Most miners were still bent on exploiting the loopholes in existing legislation and relentlessly extracted wood without necessarily subjecting themselves to the vexatious demands of the new permit system. This lack of cooperation came largely from the small workers rather than from the larger mines. As I pointed out in the prequel article, small workers, as opposed to large mining companies, were almost always vehemently opposed to changes in mining legislation, meant to gratify farmers, that whittled down their relative rights and freedoms. (131) Likewise, the new permit system constrained the latitude to continue cutting down trees as before. By so doing, such miners continued to forsake the aesthetic integrity of the forests for purely commercial ends and the conservation ethics the MTPB was trying to instill. But, the MTPB soon became aware of the cracks in the law miners were taking advantage of to procure timber without the obligation of a Mining Timber Permit. In fact, as the implementation of the provisions of the Forest Act proceeded briskly, a number of irregularities came to the fore. For example, the MTPB detected that a miner who felled timber on his own property did not need a permit. Similarly, the proprietor of a Non-Gold Belt Title farm (i.e. farms not earmarked for gold-prospecting) could very well provide timber to a miner without the mine possessing a permit as long as the owner opted to do so and abided by Section 24 of the Forest Act. (132) While in 1951, it sufficed for the MTPB to simply caution such miners, in 1952, the MTPB found it imperative to start prosecuting offenders to illustrate the seriousness with which it viewed any environmental infractions. Consequently, when inspectors visited several mines to check their compliance with Mining Timber Permit requirements, they discovered eighty cases of nonconformity and handed them over to the police. Fifty-eight convictions were made and offenders charged penalties ranging between [pound sterling]1 and [pound sterling]15. In some instances, the judgment of the MTPB on offending contractors could be harsh. In one case, the MTPB terminated a contractor's tree felling business for failing to obtain a permit. The MTPB was kept busy, because, while some contractors complied, there were still a whole lot who habitually inflated the number of timber logs they actually required on the permits. In such cases, the MTPB simply reduced the figures and censured the miners for their duplicity. (133) MTPB actions could therefore range from issuing a severe reprimand to recommending police arrests. (134)

Perhaps the greatest finding the MTPB ever made was the irreconcilability and contradictory nature of both the Forest Act and the Mines and Minerals Act. As indicated above, the miner could quite easily continue to obtain timber without the mandatory Mining Timber Permit. Under the Mines and Minerals Act, the miner still enjoyed exceedingly vast powers, especially relating to sawmilling, and contractors where large-scale timber felling was concerned. This was not helped by the McIlwaine Report, which did not pronounce on what was to be done with the Mines and Minerals Act given that it was, for decades, the legal instrument that gave miners unregulated access to indigenous forests. (135) Unless this quandary was resolved, the MTPB could not hope to successfully bring to book the wrongdoers. (136) Yet another impediment that confronted the MTPB in executing its regulatory task was that a contractor could fell timber for multiple mines on the same area but under different permits--making it virtually impossible to apportion blame to any single mine for the illicit use or extraction of timber from forests. At the same time, there was no recourse to punitive action against the contractor under the Forest Act. (137)

All in all, irrespective of the legal and policy inconsistencies the MTPB identified, official reports were in self-congratulatory mood as they proclaimed that, 'improvement in the methods of timber felling for fuel, for wholesale clear-felling is now subject to control'. (138) Part of this 'improvement' may be attributed to the continued suppression of farmers' access to timber, as the law constantly made them play second fddle to the miners. Irrespective of the fact that farmers' concerns fell outside the MTPB's remit, those whose rights continued to be trodden on by miners and who felt aggrieved still lodged complaints to the board against miners who cut timber beyond their stipulated quotas. The friction between the miner and the farmer was one issue the MTPB could not afford to ignore. For as long as the farmer-miner conflict was not resolved insofar as the cutting of timber was concerned, efforts towards conservation of timber would remain compromised. Ironically, the persistent disgruntlements coming from the farmers' sector about what they regarded as unfair discrimination inherent in the Mines and Minerals Act and their subsequent demands to be allowed access to indigenous timber forests could not have helped the new efforts towards preservation of forests. It is instructive to reiterate the argument I made in the prequel article that when farmers raised alarm about the mindless and excessive felling of trees on Gold-Belt and later on non-Gold-Belt farms, it was not because they had suddenly attained a modicum of ecological consciousness. (139) Rather, they were largely averse to the idea that, unlike miners, they had no chance to make financial gains selling the timber sprawling on their lands. This underlying economic desire guided the farmers' complaints and it seems the NRB and one of its committees created to deal with farmers' concerns, the Mineral Resources Committee (MRC), was very much alive to this motive.


From its formation in 1941, the NRB maintained a close relationship with all bodies responsible for the conservation of the colony's natural resources such as water, soil, forests and mineral assets. One such body that came to play a significant role in this regard was the MRC set up in October 1949. Its main responsibility was to counsel the NRB on issues regarding the mineral assets of the colony and to facilitate the NRB's custodianship over minerals, especially the effect of mining activity on other resources such as timber, water and soil. It was precisely on this issue that the farmer-miner conflict had been centred for a number of decades and on which the NRB (advised by the MRC) came to play a significant role as arbiter and environmental manager. Farmers and their representative bodies, such as the Rhodesia National Farmers' Union, had in the past made several attempts to find an enduring legislative solution to the conflict, but to no avail. (140) But even the NRB, armed with all the legal arsenal and goodwill at its disposal, candidly conceded at some point that 'the problem of reconciling the interests of miners, particularly base metal miners who unavoidably may devastate large areas of land, and the interests of landowners, still defies solution'. (141) The NRB had further observed that, while this problem was a familiar one in African as well as European areas, it was particularly on 'European owned and occupied farms that the problem arises in its most acute form'. (142) But, at the same time, the NRB took a familiar line similarly taken by the MTPB earlier on, namely recognising the enormous 'value' of the mining industry to the colony. The NRB was therefore intent on fostering the prudent extraction of mineral resources as other natural resources. (143) In light of this, the NRB elected to tread cautiously in order not to antagonise either sector in this conflict.

As a result, one of the first acts taken by the NRB to close the seemingly ever-widening gap between farmer and miner was to re-examine the Mines and Minerals Act, 1951. The NRB found it preposterous that 'a farmer who may be clearing land for food production purposes is not allowed to sell any timber surplus to his requirements cleared from such land and thereby reduce the costs of clearing'. (144) Even more ludicrous for the NRB was the requirement under the Act that such timber could not be removed, since the miner could in theory need it on some future date. (145) To prevent further waste of timber left lying on farms by miners, the NRB proposed an amendment to the Act in order to loosen the legal strictures which for far too long had hamstrung farmers' access to timber on their properties and hindered them from being the bona fide beneficiaries of this highly contested natural asset. (146) But, as the NRB increasingly took up issues affecting farmers and proposed favourable concessions for them, miners accused the body of displaying a partisan attitude towards the latter. In its defence, the NRB argued that what came across as its lack of impartiality was because of the preponderant number of complaints that farmers brought to the attention of the NRB. The NRB added that it was just as willing to receive grievances from miners against farmers in order that there could be an acceptable conclusion to the conflict but that 'it is difficult to help those who do not ask for assistance'. (147)


Previous attempts by the colonial state to align the diverging interests of farmers and miners had not yielded any positive outcomes. Attempts by the state to resolve the differences even at major conferences held in 1925 and 1933 came to nothing. (148) In the post-McIlwaine Report era in which a sense of environmental protection of nature and its assets had been instilled, this seemed like a propitious moment for the colonial state to finally resolve the farmer-miner dissension that had characterised the relationship between these two economic sectors for more than six decades. To this end, in 1959 the Minister of Mines appointed a working party comprising both mining and farming representatives as well as the NRB to examine and revise the Mines and Minerals Act. This turned out to be a protracted process, as the differences between the farming and mining communities deepened making the working party's interventions pointless. As a Chamber of Mines Journal report asserted, 'very few of the recommendations of the Working Party were acceptable to everyone'. (149) The polarisation between miners' and farmers' interests was in danger of persisting until the respective representative bodies of these two economic sectors, the Chamber of Mines and the Rhodesia National Farmers' Union, elected to bury their differences in the national interest and agreed to formulate a permanent solution to the conflict. The subsequent discussions between the two bodies resulted in 'improved relations between the two organizations, an appreciation of each other's problems, and a large measure of agreement on the form that the new legislation should take'. (150) Ultimately, a draft of the Mines and Minerals Bill brought before the Southern Rhodesia Legislative Assembly was passed into law as the Mines and Minerals Act of 1961. This new legislation finally brought harmony between the miner and the farmer. The Chamber of Mines Journal wasted no time in exhorting miners to take advantage of the new cooperative spirit created by the process leading to the enactment of the legislation. The Journal particularly implored the miners to employ Section 23(3) which provided for the procurement of timber through private arrangements and spelt the end of the permit system. (151) A further boon to the new farmer-miner relationship was attributed to the role of Intensive Conservation Area committees (popularly known as ICA). ICAs were set up under the Natural Resources Act by landowners in many parts of the colony to deal with the conservation or improvement of the natural resources in their areas and to work in conjunction with the NRB in implementing the objectives of the Act. (152) The NRB, in particular, ascribed the continuing improving relations between miners and farmers to the 'service of mining men on the ICA committees which results in many local problems, more often than not arising from misunderstanding, being settled locally and before there is any possibility of tempers becoming frayed'. (153) Reflecting on how the 'bad old days' of miner/farmer relationships had ended, F.W. Moncrieff, a farmer who had lived cheek-by-jowl with miners in 'Newlands' Sinoia (now Chinhoyi) in western Zimbabwe, also attributed the easing of miner-farmer tensions to the role of the NRB but specifically to the ICA committees. (154) Moncrieff declared: 'Gone are the days when a farmer's first reaction on hearing of a prospector on his land was to reach for a shotgun!', and applauded the ICAs in general and the NRB in particular for managing to resolve their differences. (155) It also needs to be acknowledged that the increasing use of electricity at this time may also have lessened the need for timber, hence making conflict between farmer and miner futile. (156) This, then, was one of the outcomes highlighting the systematic establishment of a colonial environmentalism in which the state, through institutions such as the NRB, the MTPB, the MRC and supporting legislation, became the environmental manager, arbiter and regulator, for the purposes of the continued sustainability of resources for the white settler community.


From the outset of the process of the colonisation of Zimbabwe, European settlement and plans to establish a modern industrial capitalist state triggered a series of ecological transformations of the country's landscapes. European settler ecological adventurism resulted in grave consequences for the indigenous African people, European settlers and, above all, the environment. Colonial Zimbabwe's forests became the emblematic natural resource that illustrated the striking link between ecological transformation and economic 'progress' as farmers and miners contentiously 'felled trees', 'cleared the land with speed', and 'bared the earth and robbed the soil', to quote from Speid's Conservation Song cited above. The heightened pace of settler occupation and economic pursuits and the rapacious activities of European settlers had extensive repercussions for the colony's forests, as the competing demands for wood or timber resources between different economic interests (e.g. farmers and miners) for use grew exceptionally, leaving forests stripped of their trees. In the first forty years (especially in the 1920s and 1930s) of colonial settlement conservation laws were, at best, ad hoc, disjointed and largely targeted at changing African rural societies and how they used resources. From the early 1940s onwards, environmentalist action spurred by various individual colonial citizens fostered a coherent, complex, decentralised institutional response backed by policies and laws. These reforms, however, were designed to serve the interests and sustainability of European settlers and white capital and not the African population. How this policy-making process leading to the emergence of a colonial environmentalism evolved over time has remained suppressed in the vast extant literature on the 'politics and ecology of colonial conservation' (157) in colonial Zimbabwe which, for specific ideological reasons, preponderantly focused on the implementation and effects of colonial conservation policies on African rural societies in Zimbabwe and the resistance they engendered. This paper has therefore attempted to examine the genesis and development of a colonial ecological consciousness and how it resulted in the creation of laws such as the Natural Resources Act and the Forest Act and institutions such as the Natural Resources Board and the Mining Timber Permit Board to conserve, police and govern the use of the colony's resources. It has shown how several well-placed individuals expressed deep concerns at the rate at which the colony's forests were being denuded and prodded the state to take action. The setting up of the Commission to Enquire into Deterioration and Preservation of the Natural Resources of Southern Rhodesia in 1938 represents the culminating point of the diverse manifestations and voices of environmental concern that appeared in the decades leading up to this moment. The 1920s and 1930s saw the emergence of strong advocates for environmental care who were able to publicly critique the manner in which natural resources (especially woodlands) were being used and abused for economic ends, heedless of the long-term implications for the sustainability of the future of European settlers at large. These men called for the establishment of fresh ways of regulating the use and access to natural resources and for the creation of new policies, laws and institutions that would embed notions of environmental sustainability and concern within economic matters. McIlwaine, for one, powerfully argued for the insertion of the idea of sustainability at the centre of natural resource use--as a strategy to instil the efficient utilisation of resources. These advocates aimed at advancing the cause for the conservation of the colony's natural resources and, as a result, they were able to inject most of their ideas into the making of new environmental policies from the early 1940s and lasted well into the first two decades of postcolonial rule in Zimbabwe. That the state appointed the people who had begun to generate a coherent environmental discourse to gather evidence from the European public on the state of the colony's environment helped to bring about a consensus on the dire need for action. The legal instruments and institutions which emerged from the recommendations of the McIlwaine Commission, such as the Natural Resources Act, the NRB, the Forest Act, the MTPB, etc. all had the combined effect of slowing down the consumption of timber in the colony. From this new colonial environmentalism emerged a new resolve to end the farmer-miner conflict, which was as old as the colony itself. This is a critical point because for quite a while the problems which emanated from the conflict of interest between farmer and miner seemed 'less insoluble in Southern Rhodesia than in some other countries', as suggested in an editorial of the Mining Journal of London. (158) Until the conflict was resolved, it remained a contestation unique to colonial Zimbabwe because there were no such 'developments comparable with the spread of the South African gold mining industry into the West Wits line and the Orange Free State to fire the enthusiasm of land speculators. Nor have virgin discoveries of economic deposits in Exclusive Prospecting Areas been such, as yet, as to suggest that the farmer had much real basis for fears that he might have to vacate his homestead due to any find of commercial significance within the very small protected area surrounding it', concluded the Mining Journal. The intensity and longevity of the farmer-miner conflict in colonial Zimbabwe and how it spurred a move towards a systematic environmentalism perhaps finds its match in a similar conflict in the Sierra Nevada Valley, USA, where farmers fought against the impact of hydraulic gold mining, among other similar conflicts. (159)


I am extremely indebted to the Environmental History Interest Reading Group at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA, for the insightful comments I received when I presented a revised version of this paper on 18 November 2014 in the Turkish-America Friendship Room, Shapiro Library. Thanks to Professors Perrin Selcer, Richard P. Tucker and Thomas R. Trautmann, and doctoral student Daniel Lilford, and to the anonymous reviewers for their comments.


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Department of History University of the Witwatersrand PO Box Wits 2050, Johannesburg 2000, South Africa


(1.) A Latin legal aphorism used by Justice McIlwaine when he argued for the establishment of environmentally-conscious institutions in colonial Zimbabwe, meaning: 'Use your own rights so that you do not hurt those of another'.

(2.) Winant 2015, 111.

(3.) Speid 1957, 28.

(4.) Williams 1982,12-28.

(5.) Gann 1965,171.

(6.) Beinart 1984, 52-83; Mulwafu 2002, 25-43; Siiskonen 2015, 281-302; Showers 1989, 263-286; Delius and Schirmer 2000, 719-742.

(7.) McGregor 1995, 257.

(8.) Hajer 1995, 101.

(9.) In his address, PM Mugabe sought to allay growing white fears about what his Marxist-Leninist aligned ruling party might do to an organisation such as the NRB that believed it had done much to build a formidable institution spear-heading ecological modernisation. After citing a paragraph from the founding document of the environmental movement, the Report of the Natural Resources Commission of 1939, Mugabe observed that 'there is a great deal of anxiety within the Conservation Movement', He went on to assure his white-dominated audience: 'I am not sure why this should be because they would surely be a stupid people today who did not obey the laws of nature and conservation, particularly what has happened in the history of man elsewhere in the world'. See, 'The Text of an Address Given at the Opening of the First National Conservation Congress of the Natural Resources Board of Zimbabwe by the Prime Minister, R.G. Mugabe, on 16 September, 1980', The Zimbabwe Science News 14(12) (Dec. 1980): 287-289.

(10.) Gibson 1999, 3.

(11.) Phimister 1986, 263; Kwashirai 2006; Musemwa 2009; Maravanyika 2013.

(12.) Barton 2002, 5.

(13.) Sneddon 1997.

(14.) Ibid., 1.

(15.) Ibid., 3.

(16.) Ibid., 3.

(17.) Siiskonen 2015, 298.

(18.) Sneddon 1997, 3.

(19.) Siiskonen 2015 (296) makes a similar observation about how the Germans' concern for deforestation and climate in South West Africa had much to more do with their wellbeing than that of Africans.

(20.) McGregor 1995, 258.

(21.) Anderson and Grove 1987,1.

(22.) Kwashirai 2009, 541; McGregor 1995, 257-279.

(23.) Musemwa 2009, 79-107.

(24.) McGregor 1995, 266.

(25.) Beinart 1984, 52-83; Phimister 1986, 263-275.

(26.) See McGregor, 1995; Munro 1998; Thompson, 2010; Mwatwara 2014, 18.

(27.) McGregor 1995, 260.

(28.) Mulwafu 2011, 81-105.

(29.) McGregor 1995, 260.

(30.) Siiskonen 2015, 281-302.

(31.) Murray 1970, 121.

(32.) The Matabele Times and Mining Journal, 6 May 1899.

(33.) The Matabele Times and Mining Journal, 11 Mar. 1899, 11.

(34.) See pictures of large collections of timber for fuelling steam engines at Jumbo Mine in Mazowe in Brownless 1989, 138-142.

(35.) The Rhodesia Weekly Review of Men, Mines, and Money (formerly the Matabeleland News and Mining Record), 5(182) Bulawayo, 20 Nov.1897.

(36.) The Rhodesia Weekly Review of Men, Mines, and Money 5(182), 20 Nov. 1897.

(37.) Ibid.

(38.) Ibid.

(39.) Southern Rhodesia Legislative Council Debates, 1908, 176.

(40.) Ibid.

(41.) Gatooma Mail and Mining Gazette, 22 Nov. 1918.

(42.) National Archives of Zimbabwe (hereafter NAZ): Gen/NAT, Natural Resources Board (NRB): '25 Years of Progress in Conservation in Rhodesia', (published +/-1961), 3.

(43.) Ibid.

(44.) Kwashirai 2008, 158.

(45.) Southern Rhodesia: Report of the Secretary, Department of Mines and Public Works, on Mines, for the Year 1924, Legislative Assembly, Southern Rhodesia, 1925. Report contained in Rhodesian Mines, Prospectors' and Settlers' Manual, 1925 (13th edition), 46.

(46.) Brown 2003, 346.

(47.) Barton 2002, 10.

(48.) I borrowed this phrase from Williams, 1982, 15.

(49.) NAZ S138/6: Acting Chief Native Commissioner to the Secretary to the Premier (Native Affairs), 24 Sep.1926.

(50.) NAZ S138/6: Secretary for Mines and Works to the Minister for Mines, 23 Sept. 1926.

(51.) NAZ S138/6: Acting Chief Native Commissioner to the Secretary to the Premier (Native Affairs), 24 Sept.1926.

(52.) Ibid.

(53.) Ibid.

(54.) Ibid.

(55.) Ibid.

(56.) Ibid.

(57.) Ibid. For more on farmers' concerns, see Musemwa 2009.

(58.) NAZ S138/6: Acting CNC to the Secretary to the Premier (Native Affairs).

(59.) Ibid.

(60.) Ibid.

(61.) Ibid.

(62.) Ibid.

(63.) Ibid.

(64.) NAZ S138/6: Report and Recommendations of Messrs. Bagshawe and Jackson in Respect of Control of Woodcutting in Lundi Native Reserve by the Two Asbestos Companies Operating in Shabani, 23 Sept. 1926.

(65.) Ibid.

(66.) Ibid.

(67.) NAZ S138/6: CNC to the Minister of Native Affairs: Forest Regulations on Native Reserves, 8 Nov. 1928.

(68.) Ibid.

(69.) A list of 18 'Reserved Trees' appears in Schedule A of Act 36 of 1929 contained in NAZ S138/6; CNC to the Minister of Native Affairs: Forest Regulations on Native Reserves, 8 November 1928.

(70.) McGregor 1995, 259.

(71.) Ibid., 272.

(72.) Phimister 1976, 465.

(73.) Steffen, et al. 2011, 850.

(74.) Grove 1995.

(75.) Griffiths and Robin 1998.

(76.) Barton 2002.

(77.) Sneddon 1997, 14-15.

(78.) Blaikie, cited in Sneddon 1997, 14-15.

(79.) Sneddon 1997,15.

(80.) Ibid.

(81.) Label borrowed from Sneddon 1997, 14.

(82.) Phimister 1986, 264.

(83.) McGregor 1995, 259.

(84.) Grove 1995.

(85.) Report of the Commission to Enquire into the Deterioration and Preservation of the Natural Resources of Southern Rhodesia [Chaired by Mr. Justice Mcllwaine). Hereafter referred to as The Mcllwaine Report.

(86.) The McIlwaine Report

(87.) The Mcllwaine Report.

(88.) NAZ ZAZ: 2/2/1: Natural Resources Commission--Letter from (SGO) McIlwaine, Judge of the Water Court to the Minister of Justice, 24 Jul. 1937

(89.) Ibid.

(90.) Sneddon 1997, 3.

(91.) NAZ ZAZ: 2/2/1: Letter from (SGO) McIlwaine.

(92.) Ibid.

(93.) Ibid.

(94.) Ibid.

(95.) Ibid.

(96.) Ibid.

(97.) Ibid.

(98.) Ibid.

(99.) Ibid.

(100.) NAZ ZAZ: 2/2/1: Natural Resources Commission--Letter from A.C. Jennings, Assistant Director of Native Lands to Justice R. McIlwaine, Water Court Judge, 23 Aug. 1937.

(101.) Ibid.

(102.) Ibid.

(103.) NAZ: Z.A.Z.: 2/2/1: Natural Resources Commission: Letter from F. Gillward (Jnr.), Senior Inspector of Lands to the Chairman, National Resources Commission, 20 Oct. 1938.

(104.) Ibid.

(105.) Ibid.

(106.) Ibid.

(107.) Ibid.

(108.) Ibid.

(109.) The Mcllwaine Report.

(110.) Ibid., paragraph 193.

(111.) Ibid., paragraph 193.

(112.) Ibid., paragraph 194.

(113.) Ibid., paragraph 204.

(114.) Ibid., paragraph 212.

(115.) Although the Forestry Act was only passed in colonial Zimbabwe in 1949, other settler colonies such as India and South Africa had already passed such Acts decades before--which in most cases provided a blueprint for subsequent attempts at conserving forests in other colonies. See, Brown 2003, 347

(116.) The McIlwaine Report, Paragraph 233.

(117.) Rhodesian Mines and Industries, Aug. 1945, 43

(118.) NAZ GEN/NAT--P: The History, Organisation, Progress and Future of the Natural Resources, 2-3.

(119.) Ibid., 3.

(120.) NAZ S2731/5: Mining Timber Permit Board (MTPB) Minutes, 24 Apr. 1950-26 Jan. 1953: Annual Report of the MTPB for the Year ending 31 Dec. 1950.

(121.) Thirty-first Report, Forestry Department, for the Period 1 January, 1950 to 30th September, 1950 in Report of the Chief Conservator of Forests for the Year 1950 presented to the Legislative Assembly of Southern Rhodesia (Salisbury: Rhodesian Printing and Publishing Company, Ltd. 1951), 1-2.

(122.) Ibid., 2.

(123.) NAZ S2731/5: Mining Timber Permit Board Minutes, 24 Apr. 1950-26 Jan. 1953: Annual Report of the MTPB for the Year ending 31 Dec.1950.

(124.) Ibid.

(125.) Thirty-first Report, Forestry Department, for the Period 1 January, 1950 to 30th September, 1950 in Report of the Chief Conservator for the Year 1950, 2.

(126.) Thirty-third Annual Report of the Forestry Department for the Year ended 30th September, 1952 in Annual Report of the Chief Conservator of Forests for the Year 1952, Legislative Assembly, Southern Rhodesia (Salisbury: Government Printer, 1953), 15

(127.) NAZ S2731/5: MTPB Minutes, 24 April 1950-26 January 1953: First Annual Report of the MTPB for the year ending 31 December 1950.

(128.) NAZ S2731/5: MTPB Minutes, 24 April 1950-26 January 1953: Second Annual Report of the MTPB for the year ending 31 December 1951.

(129.) The Forest Department, the Department of Conservation and Extension and the NRB all recommended low cutting of trees. They all believed that the nearer to the ground that a tree was cut, the more the stump would have better chances of re-growth. Source: NAZ S2731/5: MTPB Minutes, 24 April 1950-26 January 1953: Annual Report of the MTPB for the year ending 31 December 1950.

(130.) Third-second Annual Report, Forestry Department, for the Year ended 30th September, 1951 in Report of the Chief Conservator of Forests for the Year ending 1951, Legislative Assembly of Southern Rhodesia (Salisbury: Rhodesian Printing and Publishing Company, Ltd., 1952), 2.

(131.) Musemwa 2009, 92.

(132.) NAZ S2731/5: MTPB Minutes, 24 Apr. 1950-26 Jan. 1953: Second Annual Report of the MTPB for the year ending 31 Dec. 1951.

(133.) Ibid.

(134.) Thirty-third Annual Report of the Forestry Department for the Year ended 30th September 1952 in Annual Report of the Chief Conservator of Forests for the Year 1952 presented to the Legislative Assembly, Southern Rhodesia (Salisbury: Government Printer, 1953), 15

(135.) NAZ S2731/5: Third Annual Report of the MTPB for the year ending 31 December 1952.

(136.) Ibid.

(137.) Ibid.

(138.) Thirty-first Report, Forestry Department, for the Period 1 January, 1950 to 30th September, 1950 in Report of the Chief Conservator of Forests for the Year ending 1951 presented to the Legislative Assembly of Southern Rhodesia (Salisbury: Rhodesian Printing and Publishing Company, Ltd., 1952), 1.

(139.) Musemwa 2009, 80.

(140.) NAZ GEN/NAT-P: The History, Organisation, Progress and Future of the NRB, 10.

(141.) Report of the NRB for the Year ended 31 December 1955, 10.

(142.) Ibid.

(143.) Ibid.

(144.) Report of the NRB for the Year ended 31 December 1951, Legislative Assembly, Southern Rhodesia, 1952 (Salisbury: Rhodesian Printing & Publishing Company, Ltd, 1952), 8.

(145.) Ibid.

(146.) Report of the NRB for the Year ended 31 December 1953, Legislative Assembly, Southern Rhodesia, 1954 (Salisbury: Rhodesian Printing & Publishing Company, Ltd, 1953), 27.

(147.) Report of the NRB for the Year ended 31 December 1957, 22.

(148.) Musemwa 2009, 93-99.

(149.) Chamber of Mines Journal 3(7) (Jul. 1961): 21.

(150.) Ibid.

(151.) Chamber of Mines Journal 4(1) (Jan. 1962): 22.

(152.) NAZ: GEN/NAT-P: The History, Organization, Progress and Future of the NRB, 3-4. By 1960 there were ninety-four such committees in the whole European settled area in the Colony.

(153.) Report of the NRB for the Year ended 31 December 1957, 22.

(154.) Moncrieff 1968, 32.

(155.) Ibid.

(156.) McGregor 1995, 261.

(157.) Borrowed from the title of McGregor's 1995 article.

(158.) Mining Journal (London, 1 Sept.1961), cited in the Chamber of Mines of Rhodesia 3(11) (Nov. 1961): 28.

(159.) See, Wirth 2000.
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Author:Musemwa, Muchaparara
Publication:Environment and History
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:6ZIMB
Date:Nov 1, 2016
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