Conservationism has generally been seen as the factor that motivated the implementation of environmental policies in colonial Africa. The claim has been that these policies were implemented to improve climatic conditions, protect water catchments, and stop desertification. This perspective has been used to explain why local people resisted such policies, yet generalizing the motivations behind the policies into conservationism sidelines local factors that contributed to the making of the policies. It also simplifies the process into imposition and resistance. This paper argues that in the Central Nyanza District, Kenya, matters of public health, wood fuel, and infrastructure contributed to afforestation projects implemented between 1940 and 1957. The paper captures the complexity of the policymaking process, including how negotiations among colonial officials and Africans over particular landscapes shaped the projects.