Choice Outstanding Academic Title
“This is a notable addition to the environmental history of Tanzania. It is a work that neatly blends archival and field research, and the approach of the author is both sensitive and humane.”
John M. MacKenzie, American Historical Review
“This fascinating study deserves the attention of a wide variety of scholars and development experts. Highly recommended.”
W. Arens, Choice
“Conte’s history is a solid one…His volume is a useful addition to the corpus of environmental case studies in East Africa.”
Gregory H. Maddox, The International Journal of African Historical Studies
For more than a century, the world has recognized the extraordinary biological diversity of the forests of Tanzania’s Usambara Mountains. As international attention has focused on forest conservation, farmers, foresters, biologists, and the Tanzanian state have realized that only complex negotiations will save these treasured, but rapidly disappearing, landscapes.
Highland Sanctuary unravels the complex interactions among agriculture, herding, forestry, the colonial state, and the landscape itself. In his examination of the region’s history of ecological transformation, Christopher Conte demonstrates how these forces have combined to create an ever-changing mosaic of forest and field. His study illuminates the debate over conservation, arguing that contingency and chance, the stuff of human history, have shaped forests in ways that rival the power of nature. In Highland Sanctuary, the forest becomes part of human history, rather than something outside of it.
Highland Sanctuary cuts through a legacy of contention and ill will to inform contemporary conservation initiatives. Professor Conte explains how ecological changes take divergent paths in similar environments, in this case on mountains that harbor unique flora and fauna, and how these mountain environments achieve international importance as centers of biodiversity.
Christopher A. Conte is an associate professor of history at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, where he teaches African and environmental history. He is the author of several articles on ecological change in East Africas highlands.
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