Friedrich Schopflin (or Schoepflin), a qualified forester from Baden, Germany, was appointed as the first conservator of forests of the Natal Colony in 1891, on a three year contract. His appointment resulted from the recommendations made by H.G. Fourcade* after investigating the exploitation of forests in the colony in 1889. Schoepflin arrived in Natal on 29 May and assumed duty on 1 June 1891, with his headquarters at Pietermaritzburg. His duties were limited to the crown forests of the colony, excluding the forests of Zululand and the "native reservations". He undertook a tour of the crown forests during his first year, visiting Ixopo and Ipolela [not identified]. In his first report to the Natal Parliament he confirmed Fourcade's assessment that the forests under his care had been seriously damaged by uncontrolled exploitation. Their boundaries were furthermore not always clearly demarcated, for durig 1892 he enquired from the government about the northern boundary of the Ingeli forest, between Kokstad and Harding.
The rules and regulations Schoepflin published under Proclamation No. 5 of 1892 show that he made honest endeavours to rectify matters. During his term of office the demarcation of crown forests commenced, and the planting of exotic trees was accelerated to alleviate the shortage of timber and protect the local forests. However, he was hampered by a shortage of funds, and a forestry bill drawn up by him was rejected by Parliament as too rigorous. Discouraged by his lack of progress he resigned his post on 30 September 1893 and returned to Germany. The forest management procedures he had introduced were regarded as too costly and were abandoned, and the post of chief forester done away with. The post was instituted again only in 1902, when T.R. Sim* was appointed.