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CHAPTER XI

THE INITIAL STAGES IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF A FOREST POLICY,

1850-1857—THE ANNEXATION OF THE PUNJAB, OUDH AND THE PEGU PROVINCE, BURMA

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HE years between 1850–7 witnessed the first be-
ginnings of forest conservancy in Southern India,
and it has therefore been deemed advisable to deal

with this period separately, detailing briefly the departures and progress made in Madras, Bombay, Burma and elsewhere in India, a progress which was the direct outcome of the mistakes, now becoming obvious, made in the past.

It has been shown that it had been repeatedly urged during the previous twenty years both in Madras and Bombay that scientific advice in the management of the forests had become an urgent necessity if the forests were to be preserved from complete destruction. In 1847 the Bombay Government had

Gebr. appointed Dr. Gibson Conservator of Forests in that Presi

ahtra dency. Madras did not follow the example till nine years later (1856), when Dr. Cleghorn was appointed Conservator of

clegi Forests in that Presidency. Cleghorn, as has been already shown, had for some years interested himself in the forestry question, and had submitted a report on the Conservancy of the Forests to Government in 1856.

These two appointments may be said to have been the first real steps taken in these Presidencies towards the initia-> tion of the beginning of a continuity in the conservancy and management of the forests.

In Burma the history of the administration of the forests underwent a marked change before the end of the period here dealt with. Dr. Falconer, who had been deputed to visit and report on the Tenasserim Forests in 1849, submitted the Report of his investigations in January, 1851. This Report confirmed the general opinion that the licence system which

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had been in force since 1829 had almost ruined the greater bulk of the forests. The Commissioner, Mr. Colvin, had organised, after Captain Latter's departure, a small forestry department which endeavoured to work the Rules in force, but with scant success. The grantees still carried out their operations on the old lines, and this state of affairs was in existence when Dr. Brandis took over charge of the Tenasserim and Martaban Forests in 1857.

In 1852 the Province of Pegu was annexed. For nearly a hundred years teak timber had been one of the chief exports from Rangoon, the forests having been treated as Royal property by the Alompra dynasty. With this precedent to guide them the Government soon after the annexation proclaimed all the forests to be Government property, and Dr: McClelland was appointed Superintendent of Forests. The rights of the new Government to the ownership of the forest property were not disputed, but the proclamation did not put an end to the wasteful exploitation by timber merchants, the increased demand for teak timber resulting in the same methods of intensified fellings which had succeeded our advent in Madras and Tenasserim. The new Superintendent spent some months in travelling through and examining the forests, the results of his observations being compiled in a report submitted to Government in 1854. In this report he suggested certain restrictions to the unchecked exploitment by private parties.

It was this report which resulted in the famous Memort andum of the Government of India, dated 3rd August, 1855, which may well be termed the Charter of the Indian Forests, in which Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General, laid down for!! the first time the outline of a permanent policy for forest conservancy. This Memorandum will be dealt with in full later on. It should be known to every Indian Forester and those who have an interest in the great forest estate in India. Briefly summarised the Governor-General enunciated the following forest policy

Lord Dalhousie pointed out that on the annexation of the Province of Pegu it was laid down as the ruling principle in the management of the forests that the teak timber should be retained as State property. That in consequence all killed (by ringing or girdling) standing trees and felled trees still lying in the forests, as also standing green trees, were public property to which individuals had no right or claim. That the

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two former categories should be disposed of in such a manner that the full price of the timber should accrue to the Government and not go to swell the profits of timber traders. That in the case of the standing green trees which had reached exploitable size they should be removed in conformance with the future proper maintenance of the forests and not be exploited for the benefit of timber merchants and to the ruin of the forests, as had been the case in the Tenasserim Forests.

Lord Dalhousie's pronouncement was the act of a far-sighted statesman and proved him to be a man far ahead of his times. It marked the first real step towards the scientific conservancy of the forests, and fortunately for India the man was found possessing both the requisite scientific forestry knowledge, firmness of character and the equally necessary tact to carry through the policy determined upon in face of the most strenuous opposition. Dr. McClelland, as will be shown in a subsequent chapter, laid down the broad preliminary lines of forest management in Pegu during the few years he held the post of Superintendent. It was left for his successor, a trained Forest Officer, to work on these lines and amplify them.

Dr. McClelland's successor was the late Sir Dietrich Brandis, 1.se K.C.I.E., who has been aptly named the “Father of Indian

Forestry," a position which he may be said to share with Dr. Cleghorn. Mr. Brandis (as he then was) was appointed Superintendent of Forests in Pegu in January, 1856, and in the following year the Tenasserim and Martaban Forests were added to his charge. It soon became evident that at last a masterhand had grasped the helm of the almost derelict ship of Indian Forest Conservancy and a new era commenced, a description of which belongs to the next period into which this review has been divided.

There is no wish or intention to belittle the work and struggles of the men who up to this date had grappled with the forestry problem. They accomplished much arduous and valuable spade work in the face of official apathy or active opposition; through years of disheartening toil they laid a foundation on which to build. But none of them had previously received a scientific forestry training. Brandis was a fully qualified, scientifically trained Forester, a German who had received his training in Germany, at the time one of the finest training grounds in the world, its only rival being France. And with this training he possessed the attributes which go to make the great scientific pioneer.

In Upper India but little progress in forest conservation was made. In the Punjab, which had been recently annexed, the provision of timber supplies came under consideration in connection with the requirements for Public Works.

In 1845 the Sikhs ruled over the Punjab and the hill country between the rivers Beas and Indus. War broke out between the British and the Sikhs in the winter of 1845-6, and as a result of the decisive battle of Sobraon (February 1oth, 1846) a treaty was made between Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy, and the State of Lahore, under which there was ceded to the East India Company in perpetual sovereignty as equivalent for one crore of rupees (£1,000,000) of indemnity, the hill countries between the rivers Beas and Indus. This tract included Kashmir. Rajah Gulab Singh ruled over Jummoo and neighbouring areas. In return for his non-co-operation with the Sikhs and the help he gave in the peace settlement the British ceded to him Kashmir under a separate treaty, conferring upon him the title, or recognising him under the title, of Maharaja. The treaty gave to Gulab Singh “all the hilly or mountainous country situated to the eastward of the River Indus and westward of the Ravi," the Maharaja agreeing to pay to the British Government the sum of 75 lakhs of rupees (about £750,000). It was in this way that the British gave up the fair vale of Kaskmir. The object of the GovernorGeneral was to lessen the strength of the Sikhs by establishing on their flank a power independent of them and inclined to the British. For the British were not proposing to annex the Punjab. They arranged for the government of the Punjab by its own native rulers—by the young Maharaja Dhuleep Singh and the Council of Ministers. The British hoped in this way to set up a stable Government at Lahore. But this was not to be. In a couple of years the Sikhs again gathered together an army and attacked the British, being finally defeated at the battle of Goojerat (February 21st, 1849). On March 26th, 1849, the Punjab was annexed and became a British Province.

As has been said forest operations came under consideration soon after the annexation and during the period here considered owing to the developments taking place in the construction of buildings and communications in the Punjab, where a dearth of the timber required was making itself felt. Captain Longden was deputed by Lord Dalhousie to carefully explore and report on the forests of the Western Himalayan Range, from Chamba eastwards to the north of Simla,

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