In the process of completing my postgraduate dissertation, “Colonial Conservationism: a Study of the Sierra Leone Forestry Department,” I endeavoured to explore the relationships between man and forests underpinned by the colonial attitudes of the time. Contemporary opinions were rife in assuming that indigenous forest uses were backward and destructive and that colonial stewardship of the forests was required to ensure the longevity of Sierra Leone primary forest. In the process of my research, I have come to the conclusion that colonial conservationism and the stigmatisation of ‘the profligate native’ was but a ruse, providing justification for whole scale mechanisation, standardisation and monetisation of the forests under colonial jurisdiction. The requirements for completing this mammoth undertaking involved extensive study in both the UK and Sierra Leone National Archives.
I will give further account of the research trip that I embarked upon in Sierra Leone. Once I was in receipt of my Hatfield Trust Research Award, I was able to purchase flights to Freetown, Sierra Leone residing within the country from 1st – 10th June 2011. Despite the time constraints and physical effort involved, I was able to conduct successful research concerning both colonial forest policy and the Sierra Leone Forestry Department itself.