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Home | British Forest Policy in India : 1800-1947 | The Ecological Watershed | The Clearance of Forests | Conservation of Forests | Impact of British Forest Policies | Conclusion

Environmental Issues in India - History Concurrent Course

British Forest Policy in India : 1800-1947

British Forest Policies in India devolved from or were framed to cater to the colonial agenda of extracting the maximum profit from its colonies. Initially there was a vigorous drive to clear forests for cultivation because agriculture consistently yielded the most revenue and was much easier to administer than forests. Subsequently, when it became apparent that the demand for timber was growing exponentially and the scale of deforestation might lead to an acute shortage of timber the practice of scientific conservation and management of forests was introduced to facilitate the sustained availability of wood.

At the root of British forest policies in India was the fertile and overbearing soil of European colonialism which had been triggered off by the ruling mercantilist theory of attaining political power through economic profit. There had been an exodus of Europeans venturing out in search of new lands to colonize and exploit for the profit of the motherland and her daring adventurers. They sought wealth in all forms - from the procuring of gold and silver, spices and slaves, agricultural revenue and timber to the marketing of the manufactured goods of the home country.

The Questions we will seek to answer in the course of this study are:
1. Did the British  Forest Policy in India represent an Ecological Watershed?
2. What were the motives behind the early clearance of forests and policies adopted to achieve this?
3. What were the motives behind the subsequent conservation of forests and policies adopted to achieve this?
4.  What was the impact of the British Forest Policies in India ?
5.  Conclusion and Bibliography.

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