Prehistory of Southern African forestry: from vegetable garden to tree plantation

Showers, Kate B (2010) Prehistory of Southern African forestry: from vegetable garden to tree plantation. In: Johnson, Sarah (ed.) Bio-invaders. Themes in environmental history . White Horse Press, pp. 144-170. ISBN 9781874267553

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Desiccationist discourses and concerns dominated official concern in 19th and early 20th century southern Africa grassland ecosystems. When scientific forestry arrived in Cape Town, government bureaucracies changed and tree planting was advocated. Yet the introduction of alien trees and their spread from coast to interior began much earlier, when missionaries and settlers planted fruit and fuel trees for subsistence, and ornamentals for aesthetics while defining new frontiers. The earliest source of tree planting materials was Cape Towns Dutch East India Companys garden, established in 1652. Gardens as the primary source of trees and planting information was formalized in the 19th century with the rise of botanic gardens. Despite officially sponsored tree planting competitions, it was private plantations to supply the needs of mines, industry and the wattle bark export market, and not afforestation campaigns, that led to significant tree cover. Tree introductions did change southern African hydrologies: streams dried up and water tables dropped. Tree planting was regulated as a threat to South African water supplies in the late 20th century, and plans were made to deforest the landscape to enhance water storage.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General) > G0001 Geography (General)
Depositing User: Kate Showers
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:21
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2012 14:58
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