Between 1880 and 1920 forests 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:
Adivasis and other peasants users
Railways were an important asset that was essential in maintaining trade through the transport of goods and the domination of the colonies through the transport of troops. Wood was needed to lay the sleepers for railway tracks. The sleepers are what held the tracks from breaking apart. For one kilometer of railway track anywhere between 1760 and 2000 sleepers were required. Thus vast tracts of forest were cut down to provide the materials for the railways
(b) Ship Building
Before the coming of the industrial revolution, the ships of the early 19th century were made of wood. Britain maintained its colonial possessions through the Royal Navy with its huge number of naval fleets. But in order to maintain them vast tracts of oak forests in England were cut down.
This caused a logistical problem for the Royal Navy as a regular supply of timber was required to build new ships and maintain the old ones. It was easily remedied by cutting down forests of its colonies. Huge acres of forests disappeared as a result with some areas seeing almost complete deforestation as a result
(c) Agricultural Expansion
As the population rose, so did the demand for food. Forestlands were cleared in order to make way for new agricultural tracts. The colonial authorities believed that they can produce more food if they clear the forests. In addition, forests were considered unproductive, to begin with, so they had little qualms in cutting them down in huge numbers. Agricultural land rose by 6.7 million hectares between 1880 and 1920. It can be safely said that agricultural expansions contributed the most to deforestation
(d) Commercial Farming of Trees
(i) Forest are diverse not just in fauna, but also flora. So when they were cleared to make way for commercial farming, many species of trees were lost in the process as commercial farming only uses one specific type of trees in commercial farming, depending on the type of plantation it was.
(e) Tea/Coffee Plantation
In order to meet the growing demand for tea and coffee colonial authorities sold huge hectares of forest land to mostly European plantation firms. These firms then cut down the forests to make way for tea and coffee plantations. As a result, many acres of forest were lost.
(f) Adivasis and Other Peasant Users: Adivasis and other peasant communities practiced shifting cultivation It involved cutting down parts of forest area are cut and burning the tree roots. Seeds were then sown into the burnt patch and come the monsoon season they were harvested. When fertility declined in that particular area, the same practice was repeated in a different location. So along with losing some of the forest tracts, there were fewer chances of the trees growing back due to loss in soil fertilityAnswered by Vishal kumar | 2 years ago
Discuss how the changes in forest management in the colonial period affected the following groups of people:
Nomadic and pastoralist communities
Firms trading in timber/forest produce
Kings/British officials engaged in Shikhar (hunting)