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NCERT Solutions for Class 9 History Chapter 1 - Forest Society and Colonialism

NCERT Solutions for Class 9 History Chapter 1 - Forest Society and Colonialism

Q1. Discuss how the changes in forest management in the colonial period affected the following groups of people:
(a) Shifting cultivators
(b) Nomadic and pastoralist communities
(c) Firms trading in timber/forest produce
(d) Plantation owners
(e) Kings/British officials engaged in shikar (hunting)
Ans:

(a) Shifting cultivators: The colonial government put a ban on shifting cultivation as it was regarded harmful for forests. Because of this, tribal communities were forced to leave their homes. Many had to change their occupations. There were some who took to protest the policies of colonial masters

Shifting CultivationShifting Cultivation

(b) Nomadic and Pastoralist Communities: In the process, many pastoralists and nomadic communities like the Korava, Karacha and Yerukula of the Madras Presidency lost their livelihood. Some of them were dubbed as criminal tribes. They were forced to work in factories and plantations.

Pastoralist CommunitiesPastoralist Communities

(c) Firms trading in timber/forest produce: In India trade in forest products was not new. We have records that show that adivasi communities trading in goods like hides, horns, silk cocoons, ivory, bamboo, spices fibres, grasses, gums and rising through nomadic communities like the banjaras. After the coming of the British, trade was completely controlled by the government. The British government gave the European companies the sole right to trade in forest products.
(d) Plantation owners: In Assam, both men and women from forest communities like Santhals and Oraons from Jharkhand and Gonds from Chhattisgarh were recruited to work on tea plantations. Their wages were low and the condition of work was not good. They could not return easily to their home villages, from where they were recruited.
(e) Kings/British officials engaged in shikar: While the forest laws deprived people of their rights to hunt, hunting of big game became a sport. In India, it was the court’s culture to hunt tigers and other animals. However, under colonial rule, hunting increased to such an extent that many species became extinct. The British saw big animals as a sign of primitive society. They believed that by killing big animals, the British would civilise India. Tigers, wolves and leopards were killed because they posed a threat to cultivators. A British administrator George Yule killed 400 tigers. Only after a long time environmentalists and conservators began to argue that these animals had to be protected.

A painting depicting kings engaged in huntingA painting depicting kings engaged in hunting


Q2. What are the similarities between colonial management of the forests in Bastar and in Java?
Ans: 
The similarities between colonial management of forests in Bastar and in Java include the following:
1. Restriction of traditional practices: Both in Bastar and Java, the colonial government imposed restrictions on local practices such as shifting cultivation, hunting, and collection of forest produce.
2. Exploitation of local population: In both regions, villagers faced increased rents and demands for free labor and goods by colonial officials, leading to their suffering.
3. Forced labor in forest management: In Bastar, villagers were required to work for free in the forest department, while in Java, the Dutch introduced the blandongdiensten system, which required villagers to provide free labor and resources for cutting and transporting timber.
4. Creation of forest villages: Both regions saw the establishment of forest villages, where villagers were allowed to stay in the forests but had to work for the colonial government, either directly or indirectly through systems like the blandongdiensten in Java.

Q3. Between 1880 and 1920, forest cover in the Indian subcontinent declined by 9.7 million hectares, from 108.6 million hectares to 98.9 million hectares. Discuss the role of the following factors in this decline:
(i) Railways
(ii) Shipbuilding
(iii) Agricultural expansion
(iv) Commercial farming
(v) Tea/Coffee plantations
(vi) Adivasis and other peasant users
Ans: 

(i) Railways: They were essential for colonial trade and the movement of troops. To run locomotives, wood was needed as fuel, and to lay the railway lines sleepers were essential to hold the track together. By 1890, about 25,500 km of tracks were laid and more and more trees were cut. In Madras Presidency alone 35,000 trees were being cut annually for sleepers.

Railways during British RuleRailways during British Rule

(ii) Shipbuilding: In England, from the early 19th century, oak forests were disappearing. It created a shortage of timber for the Royal Navy. Ships could not be built without a regular supply of strong and durable timber. Ships were necessary for the protection of overseas colonies and trade. Within a decade trees were cut on a large scale and timber was exported from India.

ShipbulidingShipbuliding

(iii) Agricultural expansion: The colonial government believed that forests were unproductive. They had to be brought under cultivation so that they could yield agricultural products and generate revenue. So between 1880 and 1920, the cultivation increased by 6.7 million hectares.
(iv) Commercial farming: The British encouraged the production of commercial crops like jute, sugar, wheat and cotton. The demand for these crops increased in 19th century Europe, where food grains were needed for a growing population and raw material for industries.
(v) Tea/Coffee plantations: To meet the growing needs for tea, coffee and rubber, large areas of forests were cleared for their plantation. The colonial government took over the forests and gave vast areas to European planters at cheap rates. These areas were planted with tea, coffee and rubber.

Tea/Coffee PlantationsTea/Coffee Plantations

(vi) Adivasis and other peasant users: From early times, Adivasis communities traded in goods like hides, horns, silk cocoons, ivory, bamboo, spices, fibres, grasses, gums and resins through nomadic communities like the banjaras. This further declined forest cover.

Q4. Why are forests affected by wars?
Ans: Forests are affected by wars for several reasons. 

  • Firstly, during conflicts, there is often an increased demand for resources such as wood for construction, fuel, and other wartime needs, leading to extensive deforestation. For example, during the World Wars, large numbers of trees were cut down to meet the demands of countries like Britain.
  • Secondly, in some cases, warring parties may implement destructive strategies, such as the "scorched earth" policy used by the Dutch in Java, which involved destroying sawmills and burning massive piles of teak logs to hinder the enemy's access to resources. This can cause significant damage to forests and their ecosystems.
  • Lastly, wars can lead to the exploitation of forests and their resources by local populations. For instance, during the Japanese occupation of Java, villagers were forced to cut down forests, which in turn allowed them to expand their cultivated areas. This further contributed to deforestation and the degradation of forest ecosystems.
The document NCERT Solutions for Class 9 History Chapter 1 - Forest Society and Colonialism is a part of the Class 9 Course Social Studies (SST) Class 9.
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FAQs on NCERT Solutions for Class 9 History Chapter 1 - Forest Society and Colonialism

1. What is the impact of colonialism on forest societies?
Ans. Colonialism had a profound impact on forest societies. The British colonial rulers introduced several laws and policies that led to the displacement of forest-dependent communities. The British also introduced scientific forestry practices that prioritized commercial timber production, leading to the destruction of traditional agroforestry practices and the loss of biodiversity. Forest communities were also subjected to forced labor, and their traditional rights to access forest resources were curtailed.
2. How did forest communities resist colonialism?
Ans. Forest communities resisted colonialism in various ways. They organized themselves into communities and formed resistance movements to protect their forests and livelihoods. They also adopted various strategies to negotiate with the colonial state, such as forming alliances with sympathetic colonial officials, petitions, and protests. Forest communities also resorted to traditional practices such as forest conservation and agroforestry, which helped them maintain their identity and resist colonial encroachment.
3. What is the role of forests in the economy of forest societies?
Ans. Forests played a vital role in the economy of forest societies. Forests provided a range of products such as timber, non-timber forest products, medicinal plants, and wild foods. Forests were also an essential source of livelihood for forest-dependent communities, who practiced shifting cultivation, agroforestry, and hunting-gathering. Forests were also a source of cultural and spiritual value, and forests played a vital role in the social and political organization of forest societies.
4. What is the impact of deforestation on forest societies?
Ans. Deforestation has a severe impact on forest societies. Deforestation leads to the loss of biodiversity, which affects the availability of forest products and reduces the resilience of forest ecosystems. Deforestation also leads to soil degradation, which affects agricultural productivity and the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities. Deforestation also leads to a loss of cultural and spiritual values associated with forests, which erodes the identity of forest societies.
5. What is the current status of forest societies in India?
Ans. The current status of forest societies in India is challenging. The Forest Rights Act of 2006 recognizes the rights of forest-dependent communities to access and manage forest resources, but the implementation of the Act has been slow and inadequate. Forest communities still face challenges such as displacement, loss of access to forest resources, and conflicts with the state and non-state actors over forest resources. The COVID-19 pandemic has also affected forest communities, who rely on forest products and tourism for their livelihoods.
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