Woodland resources : ecology, policy and ideology : an historical case study of woodland use in Shurugwi communal area, Zimbabwe
This thesis examines the effect of deforestation on strategies of woodland use and management in Zimbabwe's communal areas. It looks historically at the influences on forest and land use policy and the assumptions and ideologies on which interventions have been founded. The local impact of these policies is analysed through a case study of woodland response to disturbance, the changing role of trees in local livelihoods and modification of tree tenure and usufruct. Forestry in colonial Zimbabwe was much more than a series of value-free technical decisions; for much of its early history it was constrained by the interests of mining capital. Afforestation with exotics was initially part and parcel of a broader inodernisation ideology. The 'woodfuel crisis' was subsequently used to justify the same afforestation policies. Ceritralised institutions and the authority of science have contributed to the devaluation of local understandings and the underappreciation of the dynamism of use strategies. Planning has persistently been based on misunderstandings of savanna ecology and the way it is used. Land use policy in the 1920s and 1930s established the basic layout of the study area and had a lasting and detrimental effect on woodland cover. The institutional isolation of forestry has persisted such that land use policy and its effects are rarely considered a forestry issue. In contrast with state interventions, local strategies for coping with environmental change can be highly effective in resource conservation. Flany changes in resource use, however, are rooted not in physical scarcity but in broader political, economic, and lifestyle changes, and in a desire for modernity. State agents have an increased role in determining woodland usufruct in the study area. There has been a decline in the authority of spirit guardianship of woodlands and an increase in the use of privatised resources.