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Basutoland: A Historical Journey into the Environment

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Reconstructing the environment of Lesotho in order to assess soil erosion at different time scales, highlights conflicting views about the initiation of accelerated erosion. Indigenous agricultural practices were sensitive to the fragile environment and aimed to ensure a protective vegetative cover. The imposition of colonial conservation techniques overlooked local wisdom regarding soil erosion prevention, was often ineffective, and arguably accelerated soil erosion. Loss of flat fertile land to the Boers, changes from indigenous agriculture to commercial cultivation, concentration of population on steep slopes, were among causes that contributed to accelerated erosion, and to indigenous agricultural systems becoming less effective.

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Keywords: colonial conservation; environmental reconstruction; historical sources; indigenous knowledge; soil erosion; vegetative cover

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2018) of 0.800. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.918.
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