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AZTREC
Association of Zimbabwean
‚s‚’aditional Environmental Conservationists
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2. Fundamentals
BACKGROUND ON BIO-CULTURAL DIVERSITY CONSERVATION.

Not so long ago environmentalists hardly considered people, or perhaps only as having negative impact on nature. In colonial and past colonial agriculture, here considered as an element of the dynamic eco systems, traditional natural resources management practices were considered inefficient.
In Zimbabwe environmental deterioration and degradation is rampant and threatens the livelihoods mainly of the marginalised groups of society, the communal and resettlement areas. This deterioration of natural resources has been caused firstly by such natural disasters as drought and as of late flooding. Secondly, this has been as a result of the indiscriminate destruction by the community as a result of lack of land for cultivation and grazing (75% of the marginalised people stay in communal areas of the country) coupled with gradual increases in population. And, thirdly this deterioration has been a result of the erosion of indigenous beliefs, values and norms culminating from the introduction of the green revolution packages of agriculture and natural resources management practices dating as far back as the 1900. This led to the forced migration of indigenous people from better agricultural zones to less productive lands, presently called the Communal areas. Colonialists cultivated the fertile soils according to conventional standards (mono cropping, high external inputs, high yields and control of nature by the application of technology). The same agricultural principles and technologies were promoted in the communal areas to make agriculture more efficient (through increased external input). This trend was continued or even intensified during post colonial time. Higher productivity was needed because of the increased population density..
World wide there is an acceptation that major changes are needed in order to make agriculture in particular and natural resources management in general, more sustainable. Instead of continuing the trend of high external input of chemicals and hybrid seeds in agriculture, development should be geared at intensifying agriculture by diversifying the production systems for maximum efficiency in the utilization of natural, human and financial resources, while minimizing environmental and economic risks. It is evident that the conventional methods of resources management has remained of a peace -meal in nature and has failed to produce lasting solutions (sustainable) to the environmental problems as mentioned above.
More than a decade of work by a tripartite relationship between the spirit mediums, the chiefs and the veterans of the liberation struggle in trying to resuscitate the indigenous visions of the indigenous peoples of Zimbabwe in management of natural resources has established important issues that are key to sustainable agriculture practices and natural resources management. Based on this alliance between the spirit mediums, chiefs and veterans of the liberation struggle an institution known as Association of Zimbabwe Traditional Environmental Conservationists (AZTREC) was formed in 1985. The alliance of the spirit mediums, chiefs and war veterans dates back prior to colonization when these were the facets of upholding the beliefs, values and norms of the indigenous people. It continued at colonization when the indigenous people resisted the colonial regime resulting in the first Chimurenga war of the 1890fs and the subsequent war of liberation which took years of fighting. The tripartite relationship have continued today as a way of reviving the lost heritage resulting from colonization.
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