Forest Management in India

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  1. Introduction
  2. Pre-World War 1
  • The Indian Forest Act, 1865
  • The Indian Forest Act, 1878
  1. Post World War II
  • Forest Act 1927
  1. The implications and administering Forest Act, 1927 in WW II

Pre world war 1 Phase 1 In 1806 A.D, the post of “Conservator of Forests” was established through a commission, to assess the availability of teak in the regions of Malabar and Travancore. This was the beginning of the Imperial Government exercising its control over the Indian Forests, disregarding the previous set of complex rules and regulations woven around socio cultural features and economic activities of the local communities. However the appointment of the commission to assess and enquire the availability of teak failed to conserve the forests, rather it allowed the conservator of forests to plunder and loot the forests.

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This post was eventually abolished in the year 1823 A.D but only after significant damage done to the forests. Therefore the first phase from 1806 AD to 1823 AD failed to conserve forests as the appointed conservator of forests plundered the forest wealth.[1] After abolishing the Conservator of Forests post, we find a void of any policy or commission till 1864. This period between phase 1(1806-1823) and phase II(1864-1913) was devastating for the Indian forests. Since the local communities and tribes in the forests had already lost their claim over the forests, there were no rules and regulations local or otherwise to maintain the forest cover. Therefore for imperial consideration and absence of any British policies, independent contractors both Indian and European seized the opportunity to cut down the forest cover and use the supply of wood for export, for British navy, for local constructions i.e. for roads and railways. These private contractors were chiefly responsible for the devastation of the forests. Phase 2 This phase marks the beginning of a new era under which we see an attempt being made to formulate new policies for organised forest management in India; legislate the implementation of such policies and some intention of taking administrative steps to conserve forests. The first inspector general of the forest was appointed in 1864. After this, the systematic management of forests started. The tasks assigned under the supervision of the inspector general of the forests were mammoth. It ranged from the exploration of resources, demarcation of reserves, protection of forest from fire, assessment of growing stock. Thus the objective of this appointment changed from obtaining timber to protecting and improving forests cover. Along with the appointment, the necessity of treating forests as state property was felt. Forest Act 1865 The first step towards asserting the state monopoly over the forest was the enactment of the Forest Act,

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