This thesis utilizes three theoretical approaches; political ecology, settler culture and community conservation to examine soil conservation and the white agrarian environment in colonial Zimbabwe to evaluate to what extent players in government and the agricultural sector were conscious or concerned about preservation and conservation of the soil. The thesis also examines the role of local and international ideas in the colony’s conservationist tradition, and whether the soil conservation movement was identity-forming among the colony’s settler farmers. The history of conservation on settler farms in colonial Zimbabwe can be periodized into three broad timeframes - from the 1890s to around the mid-1930s, between 1934 and 1965 and the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) period. In the first three and half decades of the 20th century the history of conservation can best be described as being characterized by a series of “dilemmas.” The British South Africa Company (BSA Co.) administration did not pursue soil conservation in any significant, synchronized or sustained manner. In the second period, from 1934 to 1965, there was considerable progress in the construction of conservation works on settler farms. This process was the result of recommendations made by Natural Resources Commission, a body that was appointed in 1938 to investigate the status of the colony’s natural resources. The mid-1940s were characterized by the formation of Intensive Conservation Areas (ICAs) in settler farming districts whose mandate was to oversee the construction of conservation works to rehabilitate settler farms. With the support of the Natural Resources Board (NRB), and the Department of Conservation and Extension (CONEX), formed in 1948 to provide expertise on conservation-related matters and extension support, all settler farming areas were covered by trained CONEX staff, though in most instances very thinly distributed due to high demand for their service and manpower constraints in the department. The third period, the UDI era, was characterized by attempts by the minority settler government to forestall majority rule in the colony. Malawi and Zambia (formerly Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, respectively) had been granted their independence by Britain in 1964. As decolonization was taking place in other parts of Africa, black majority rule in colonial Zimbabwe also seemed imminent. To the alarm of the white minority government, Britain had set out to grant majority rule to its African colonies, including Southern Rhodesia (renamed Rhodesia after Zambia’s independence). The Ian Smith-led government of Rhodesia, feeling betrayed, declared UDI on 11 November 1965, delaying Zimbabwean independence by another 15 years. With the end of the Federation in 1963, the colony could no longer rely on federal resources as it had done between 1953 and 1963. Sanctions, imposed in reaction to UDI, further put the regime in a tight corner. Their impact was quite significant. Fuel had to be rationed, and general belt-tightening across the board inevitably followed as major Rhodesian exports such as tobacco and minerals were embargoed on international markets. The start of the liberation war at the end of the 1960s further complicated matters.