Explain the Rise of Commercial Forestry

  • The British were worried that forests would be destroyed by reckless felling of trees and use of forests by local people. 
  • Brandis, a German expert invited by the British government, realised that for conservation of forests, people had to be trained in science of conservation and a proper system had to be established.
  • They felt a requirement to frame the rules about the usage of forest resources. To preserve forests for timber production, they felt it was required to restrict the grazing and felling of trees.
  • Hence Indian Forest Act of 1865 was formulated with the help of Brandis, who also set up the Indian Forest Service in 1864.
  • The Indian Forest Act was amended twice, in 1878 and 1927. The forests were divided into three categories – village forests, protected forests, and reserved forests. Reserved forests were the best forests. To meet the needs of the villagers they could use village forests and protected forests, but not allowed to use reserved forests.
  • As the forests were taken under the control of the Forest department, new opportunities opened up in the sphere of trade and its benefits accrued to some people.
  • Many people started trading in the forest products and many communities left their traditional occupations. This rise in trade of forest products was seen across the world and not just in India.
  • In India, the trade in forest products existed from medieval times, trade was carried out in products such as resins, gums, grasses, fibres, spices, bamboo, ivory, silk cocoons, horns, hides. This was done through nomadic communities like Banjaras.
  • Trade in forests products was completely under the control of British, once they colonised India. In particular areas, the sole right to trade was given to large European trading firms.
  • Hunting and grazing got restricted.
  • In the process, many nomadic and pastoralist communities like Yerukula, Karacha, Korava lost their livelihoods. 
  • Some of them were forced to work in plantations, mines, factories under Government supervision.
  • Forest communities like Gonds from Chhattisgarh, Oraons and Santhals from Jharkhand and Assam had to work in tea plantations.
  • Their working conditions were bad, they were not allowed to visit their villages, their wages were very low.

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