Through the indigenisation programme, the government of Zimbabwe embarked on fast track land reform which to some extent had both positive and negative impacts. The aim of the programme was to empower the local Zimbabweans economically and to improve on food security. On the other hand, this initiative had negative implications to the environment. The research explored how the new farming communities endeavoured to protect the environment through their agricultural, social and cultural practises in trying to improve their sustainable livelihoods. The survey research design was adopted with questionnaires and interviews being the main data gathering tools. Simple random sampling technique was used to select a sample of 120 respondents for answering the questionnaire and also for interviewing. Data was then analysed, tabulated and inferences made about it. The research found out that the fast track land reform programme has caused environmental degradation as shown by deforestation, gullies and siltation of rivers in Eastdale A1 model farm. Poverty was highlighted as the major cause of environmental degradation in farms. In addition, bad farming practices and exploitation of natural resources as a way of surviving also impacted negatively on the environment. Although there are laws governing environmental protection, the implementation of such laws is not that effective as there is lack of consultation and participation of the local communities. The study recommends effective implementation of environmental laws in the areas where new farmers were settled. Local communities need to take active roles in matters concerning environmental protection through the introduction of freehold land tenure system in fast tracked land reform areas.
Key words: Land, farmers, environment, degradation, tenure.
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