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Environment and History

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Environment and History

The Rise and Demise of South Africa’s First School of Forestry

Brett M. Bennett

Environment and History 19 (2013): 63-85. doi: 10.3197/096734013X13528328439072

This article examines the unexplored history of South Africa’s first school of forestry. It argues that leading South African politicians and foresters created a school of forestry in the country because they wanted a school where South Africa’s future forestry officers could gain practical and theoretical experience of forestry in local conditions rather than going to Britain, Europe or India, where environmental conditions differed. The school was touted proudly as the first school of forestry in South Africa and the southern hemisphere. But the school, which the South African College and the Cape Colony’s Forestry Department directed jointly, ran into political and staff problems and closed only five years after its opening. This article shows how the school’s closing was the result of inter-colonial political tensions and institutional problems that were exacerbated by the migration of power from Cape Town to Pretoria following the Act of Union in 1910.

KEYWORDS: British Empire, Cape Colony, conservation, forestry, D.E. Hutchins, South Africa, Tokai

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