Q.1. Discuss the rise of commercial forestry under the colonial governments.
Ans. Commercial forestry became important during the British rule. By the early nineteenth century oak forests in England were disappearing. This created a problem of shortage of timber supply for the Navy. How could English ships be built without a regular supply of strong and durable timber? How could imperial power be protected and maintained without ships? Because of the factors given above, before 1856 the commercial forestry was considered important in India. By the 1820s, search parties were sent to explore the forest resources of India. These parties gave them green signal for commercial forestry in India. Within a decade trees were being felled on a massive scale and large quantities of timber were
being exported from India. The spread of railway from the 1850s created a new demand. In India, the colonial government felt that railways were essential for effective internal administration, for colonial trade, for the quick movement of imperial troops. To run locomotives wood was needed as fuel, and to lay railway lines, sleepers were essential to hold the track together. The government gave out contracts to individuals to supply the required quantities. These contractors began cutting trees indiscriminately.
Q.2. How did the new forest laws affect the forest dwellers? (CBSE 2010)
Ans. Foresters and villagers had very different ideas of what a good forest should look like. Villagers wanted forests with a mixture of species to satisfy different needs — fuel, fodder, leaves. The forest department wanted trees which were suitable for building ships or railways. They needed trees that could provide hard wood and were tall and straight. So particular species like teak and sal were promoted and others were cut. The new forest laws meant severehardship for villagers across the country. After the Act (Forest Act), all their everyday practices, cutting wood for their houses, grazing their cattle, collecting fruits and roots, hunting and fishing became illegal. People were now forced to steal wood from the forests, and if they were caught they were at the mercy of the forest guards who would take bribes from them. Women who collected fuel wood were especially worried. It was also common for police constables and forest guards to harass people by demanding free food from them.
Q.3. “The introduction of extremely exploitatives and oppressive policies proved to be a disaster.” With reference to Bastar — (CBSE 2010)
(a) What were these policies?
(b) What were the consequences of these policies?
Ans. (a) The colonial government proposed to reserve two-thirds of the forest in 1905 and stop shifting cultivation, hunting and collection of forest produce. The people of Bastar were very worried. Some villages were allowed to remain on in the reserved forests on the condition that they worked free for the forest department in cutting and transporting trees and protecting the forests from fires. Subsequently these came to be known as forest villages. People of other villages were displaced without any notice or compensation. For long the villagers had been suffering from increased land rents and frequent demands for free labour and goods by colonial officials. Then came the terrible famines in 1899-1900 and again in 1907-1908. Reservations proved to be the last straw.
(b) People began to gather and discuss these issues in their village councils, in bazars and at festivals or wherever the headmen and priests of several villages were assembled. The initiative was taken by the Dhruvas of the Kanger forest, where reservation first took place. Although there was no single leader, many people speak of Gunda Dhur from village Nethanar as an important figure in the movement in 1910 mango boughs, a limp of earth, chillies and arrows, began circulating between villages. These were actually messages inviting villagers to rebel against the British. Every village contributed something to the rebellion expenses. Bazars were looted, the houses of officials and traders, schools and police stations were burnt and robbed and grain redistributed. The British sent troops to suppress the rebellion. The adivasi leaders tried to negotiate, but the British surrounded their camps and fired upon them. After that they marched through the villages, flogging and punishing those who had taken part in the rebellion. It took three months for the British to regain control. However, they never managed to capture Gunda Dhur. In a major victory for the rebels, work on reservation was temporarily suspended and the area to be reserved was reduced to roughly that planned before 1910.
Q.4. How did the transformation in the forest management during the colonial period affect the following?
(a) Pastoral communities
(b) Shifting cultivators
Ans. The British required Indian forests in order to build ships and for railways. The British were worried that the use of forest by local people and the reckless felling of trees by traders would destroy forest. Therefore the colonial government dicided to invite a German expert Dietrich Brandis for advice and made him the first Inspector General of Forests in India. Dietrich Brandis realised that a proper system had to be introduced to manage the forests and people had to be trained in the science of conservation. Rules about the use of forest resources had to be framed. Felling of trees and grazing had to be restricted so that forests in India could be preserved for timber production.
British management decided that anybody who cut trees without following the system had to be punished.
Dietrich Brandis set up the Indian Forest Service in 1864 and helped formulate the Indian Forest Act of 1865. The Imperial Forest Research Institute was set up at Dehradun in 1906. The system they taught here was scientific forestry. The changes in forest management in the colonial period affected the following groups of people.
(a) Pastoral communities : Pastoral communities were affected by the new forest laws. Before these laws came into force, the people of pastoral as well as nomadic community had survived by hunting deer, partridges and a variety of small animals. This customary practice was prohibited by the forest laws. Those who were caught hunting were now punished for poaching. Some of them began to be called criminal tribes and were forced to work in factories, mines and plantations under government supervision.
(b) Shifting cultivators : One of the major impacts of European colonialism was on the practice of shifting cultivation or swidden agriculture. This is a traditional agricultural practice in several parts of Asia, Africa and South America. European foresters regarded the practice of shifting cultivation as harmful for the forests. They felt that land which was used for cultivation every few years could not grow trees for railway timber. When a forest was burnt, there was the added danger of the flames spreading and burning valuable timber. Shifting cultivation also made it harder for the British government to calculate taxes. So
the colonial government decided to ban shifting cultivation. As a result, shifting cultivators were forcibly displaced from their homes in the forests. Some had to change occupations, while some resisted through large and small rebellions.
Q.5. How did the following contribute towards the decline of forest cover in India between 1880-1920? (CBSE 2010)
(a) Railways and shipbuilding
(b) Commercial farming
Ans. (a) (1) Railways : The spread of railways from 1850s created a new demand. Railways were essential for successful colonial control, administration, trade and movement of troops. Thus to run locomotives, (a) wood was needed as fuel (b) and to lay railway lines as sleepers were essential to hold tracks together. As the railway tracks spread throughout India, larger and larger number of trees were felled. Forests around the railway tracks started disappearing fast.
(2) Shipbuilding : UK had the largest colonial empire in the world. Shortage of oak forests created a great timber problem for the shipbuilding of England. For the Royal Navy, large wooden boats, ships, courtyards for shipping etc., trees from Indian forests were being felled on massive scale from the 1820s or 1830s to export large quantities of timber from India. Thus the forest cover of the subcontinent declined rapidly.
(b) Commercial Farming : Large areas of natural forest were also cleared to make space for the plantations or commercial farming. Jute, rubber, indigo, tobacco etc. were the commercial crops that were planted to meet Britain’s growing need for these commodities. The British colonial government took over the forests and gave of a vast area and exported it to Europe. Large areas of forests were cleared on the hilly slopes to plant tea or coffee. This also contributed to the decline of the forest cover in India.
Q.6. How was colonial management of forests in Bastar similar to that of Java? (CBSE 2010)
Ans. The colonial government imposed new forest laws according to which two-thirds of the forests were reserved. Shifting cultivation, hunting and collection of forest produce was banned. Most people in forest villages were displaced without notice or compensation. In the same way, when the Dutch gained control over the forests in Java, they enacted forest laws, restricting villagers' access to forests. Now wood could only be cut for specific purposes and from specific forests under close supervision. Villagers were punished for grazing cattle, transporting wood without a permit or travelling on forest road with horse-carts or cattle. This was the similarity between the British (in Bastar) and Dutch (in Java) management of forests.
Q.7. What new trends and developments have affected the forestry of today?
Ans. Since the 1980s governments across Asia and Africa have begun to see that scientific forestry and the policy of keeping forest communities away from forests has resulted in many conflicts. Conservation of forests rather than collecting timber has become a more important goal. The government has realised recognised that in order to meet this goal, the people who live near the forests must be involved. In many cases, across India, from Mizoram to Kerala, dense forests have survived only because villagers protected them in sacred groves known as sarnas, devarakudu, kau, rai etc. Some villages have been patrolling their own forests, with each household taking it in turns, instead of leaving it to the forest guards. Local forest communities and environmentalists today are thinking of different forms of forest management.
Q.8. What is shifting cultivation? Why did the European foresters regard this practice as harmful for the forests? (CBSE 2010)
Ans. In shifting agriculture certain parts of the forest are selected, cut and burnt. This is done in rotation. Then seeds are sown in the ashes after the monsoon. The crop is ready to be harvested by October November. This cultivation is carried on for two to three years. After this, the land is left fallow for about 12 to 18 years. This allows the forest to grow back again. Cultivators grow different crops on this land. It varies from region to region. In central India and Africa, it could be millets, in Latin America, maize and beans and in Brazil, manioc. This practice of shifting agriculture was considered by European foresters as harmful. They were of the opinion that any land that was cultivated in this manner could not produce trees which would yield timber for railways. They also argued that burning of forests was a dangerous activity. The flames could spread and burn valuable timber. In addition, the government found that calculation of tax was a problem with shifting agriculture as the cultivators did not stay on the same piece of land for more than three years. The government, hence, decided to ban shifting agriculture. Many people lost their means of livelihood and were displaced from their homes.
Q.9. Where is Bastar located? Discuss its history and its people. (CBSE 2010)
Ans. Bastar is situated in the southern part of Chhattisgarh and borders Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The river Indrawati flows from east to west across Bastar. The central part of Bastar is a plateau. To the north of this plateau is the Chhattisgarh plain and to its south is the Godavari plain. The people of Bastar believe that each village was bestowed land by the earth and hence they offer something in return during agricultural celebrations. Apart from the earth the people of Bastar show reverence to the spirits of rivers, forests and the mountains. Different communities such as Maria and Muria Gonds, Dhurwas, Bhatras and Halbas practise common customs and beliefs but speak different dialects. Each village is well aware of its boundaries. They look after and preserve their natural resources. There exists a give and take relationship among the communities. If a village wants some forest produce from another village a small price is paid before taking it. This price is called ‘dhand’ or ‘man’ or ‘devsari’. Villagers engage watchmen to look after their forests for a price. This price is collected from all the families. There is a large annual gathering — a big hunt where the headmen of all the villages in a ‘pargana’ (a group of villages) meet and discuss matters that concern them.
Q.10. Discuss the new developments in forestry after the 1980s.
Ans. Since the 1980s the governments of Asia and Africa have begun to see that scientific forestry and the policy of keeping forest communities away from the forests has resulted in many conflicts. Conservation and preservation of forests have become the major goal. Collection of timber is a secondary objective. The governments emphasise that in order to conserve and preserve forests the involvement of people is important. These are perfect examples to quote here — across India, from Mizoram to Kerala, dense forests have survived only because villagers protected them in sacred groves known as 'sarnas', 'devarakudu', 'kan', 'rai', etc. Some villagers have been patrolling their own forests, with each household taking it in turns, today are thinking of different forms of forest management.
Q.11. Why did the people of Bastar rise in revolt against the British? Explain. [2011 (T-2)]
Ans. (i) In 1905, the colonial government imposed laws to reserve two-thirds of the forests, stop shifting cultivation, hunting and collection of forest produce. People of many villages were displaced without any natice or compensation.
(ii) For long, villagers had been suffering from increased land rents and frequent demands for free labour and goods by colonial officials.
(iii) The terrible famines in 1899–1900 and again in 1907–1908 made the life of people miserable. They blamed the colonial rule for their sorry plight.
(iv) The initiative of rebellion was taken by the Dhurwas of the Kanger forest, where reservation first took place. Gunda Dhur was an important leader of the rebellion.
Q.12. How forest of Java were affected by Dutch colonialists? Describe how farms for rice cultivation in Java expanded? [2011 (T-2)]
Ans. The Dutch started forest management at Java in Indonesia. Like the British, they wanted timber to build ships. The Dutch bagan to gain control over the forests in the 18th century. In 1770, the Kalangs resisted by attacking a Dutch fort at Joana, but the uprising was suppressed. The Dutch enacted forest laws in Java in the 19th century, restricting villagers' access to forests. Now wood could only be cut for specified purposes like making river boats or constructing houses, and only from specific forests under close supervision. Villagers were punished for grazing cattle in young stands, transporting wood without a permit, or travelling on forest roads with horse carts or cattle. The Dutch first imposed rents on land being cultivated in the forest and then exempted some villages from these rents if they worked collectively to provide free labour and buffaloes for cutting and transporting timber. This was called as the 'blandongdiensten' system. Later on, insteed of rent exemption, forest villagers were given small wages, but their right to cultivate forest land was restricted. Java is now famous as a rice-producing island in Indonesia. After Indonesia gain freedom from colonial rule rice farms were developed on a large scale.
Q.13. "A growing population in England was responsible for deforestation in India." Justify the statement. [2011 (T-2)]
Ans. The British directly encouraged the production of crops like jute, sugarcane, wheat and cotton. The demand for these crops increased in the 19th century in England where food grains were needed to feed the growing urban population. The colonial state thought that forests were unproductive. Forests had to be brought under cultivation so that the land could yield agricultural products and revenue, and enhance the income of the state. Thus, between 1880–1992, cultivated area rose by 6.7 million hectares.
Q.14. Describe four provisions of the Forest Act of 1878. [2011 (T-2)]
Ans. (i) The Forest Act of 1878 divided forests into three categories : reserved, protected and village forests.
(ii) The best forests were called 'reserved forests'.
(iii) Villagers could not take anything from reserved forests, even for their own use.
(iv) For house building or fuel, they could take wood from protected or village forests.
Q.15. Explain how did the First World War and the Second World War have a major impact on forests? [2011 (T-2)]
Ans. The two world wars had a major impact on forests. In India, working plans were given up, and the forest department cut trees freely to meet the British war needs. In Java, the Dutch followed 'a scorched earth' policy, destroying saw mills, and burning huge piles of giant teak logs so that they would not fall into Japanese hands. The Japanese exploited the forests recklessly for their own war industries, forcing forest villagers to cut down forests. Many villagers in Indonesia used this opportunity to expand cultivation in the forest. After the war, it was difficult for Indonesian authorities to get this land back.
Q.16. Who was appointed as the first Inspector General of Forests in India? Explain any three reforms introduced by him. [2011 (T-2)]
Ans. A German forest expert, Dietrich Brandis, was made the first Inspector General of Forests in India.
(i) Brandis introduced a proper system to manage the forests and people had to be trained in the science of conservation. This system needed legal sanction and so rules about the use of forests had to be framed.
(ii) Felling of trees and grazing had to be restricted so that forests could be preserved for timber production. Trespassers had to be punished.
(iii) Brandis set up the Indian Forest Service in 1864 and helped formulate the Indian Forest Act of 1865. The Imperial Forest Research Institute was set up at Dehradun in 1906. The system they taught here was called 'scientific forestry'.
Q.17. How did commercial farming led to a decline in forest cover during colonial period? [2011 (T-2)]
Ans. Natural forests which had lots of different types of trees were cut down. In their place, one type of tree was planted in straight rows. Forest officials surveyed the forests, estimated the area under different types of trees and made working plans for forest management. They planned how much of the plantation area to cut every year. The area cut was then to be replanted so that it was ready to be cut again in some years. Natural forest cover was thus destroyed on a large scale.
Q.18. How did the local people look after and protect the forests in Bastar region? [2011 (T-2)]
Ans. The people of Bastar showed respect to the spirits of the river, the forest and the mountain. Since each village knew its boundary the local people loked after all the natural resources within their boundary. If the people from a village wanted to take some wood from forests of another village, they paid a small fee called 'devsari,' 'dand' or 'man' in exchange. Some villagers also protected their forests by engaging watchmen and each household contributed some grain to pay them. Every year there was one big hunt where the headman of villages in a 'pargana' met and discussed issues of concern, including forests.
|1. What was the impact of colonialism on forests in India?
|2. What is the significance of forests in Indian society?
|3. How did the forest policies of the British impact the tribal communities?
|4. What are the challenges faced by the forest-dependent communities in India?
|5. How can sustainable forest management benefit both the environment and society?