Jemitias Mapira


Zimbabwe’s problems of land degradation date back to the colonial era when the Rhodesian government created native reserves, the so-called Tribal Trust Lands (TTLs) in 1926. Through the enactment of the Land Apportionment Act of 1930, the country was subdivided into European and Native Lands. Since the Act ignored the population disparities of these areas, an environmental crisis was bound to occur in the near future. Furthermore, the Europeans took the best agricultural land while blacks were relegated to the drier and less productive areas. Due to the introduction of the ox-drawn plough, the communal lands were subjected to massive land degradation in the form of deforestation and soil erosion. Although massive land re-distribution has occurred since 2000, land degradation has spread to the newly-resettled areas as human and livestock populations continue to increase in these former white farms. The demand of timber for building purposes as well as wood fuel in these areas, have worsened the environmental crisis. In tobacco farming areas deforestation has been worsened by the demand for energy to cure the harvested crop. Another challenge has been that of a weak environmental education (EE) programme which focuses on scientific facts about the environment rather than behavior change. Organizations such as the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) are not well equipped to provide their mandate due to the lack of resources, vehicles for transport and inadequate manpower. Based on information that was collected in September, 2017, this paper examines Zimbabwe’s land degradation problem from an historical perspective. It argues that unless the rate of deforestation and soil erosion are curbed or reduced, Zimbabwe’s dream of achieving sustainable resource conservation in future is unlikely to be achieved in the long run.  


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land degradation, soil erosion, deforestation, sustainable development, Zimbabwe


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