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undisturbed characteristics, far into a neighbouring one of quite dissimilar character; or, again, a disconnected area of a particular zone, definitely belonging to that zone, may be found quite outside the general limits of its own zone and surrounded by forest pertaining to a different one. The shading off of one zone into another is, of course, influenced by aspect and also by elevation. But the influence of aspect is not always constant, owing to the large area of the Continent and the great differences in climate. For instance, the scorching produced by the hot-weather sun and dry blistering winds is inimical to tree growth. as also is a cold northern exposure. And to these must be added in varying degrees the physical qualities, the chemical composition of the soil and sub-soil and the distance below the surface of the permanent moisture.

Although, therefore, it is possible to broadly group the forests into the zones and regions above delineated and to hold that these zones, for the purposes of the Forester, are sufficiently definite, it is not contemplated that such a treatment of the matter would fulfil strictly botanical requirements.

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THE POSITION AND TREATMENT OF THE FORESTS

IN INDIA, 1796–1850

CHAPTER V

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THE STAGES PRIOR TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF
A FOREST POLICY, 1796–1850 Cercune stances

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Consert
HE growth of a forest policy in India was extra-
ordinarily slow. There were many mitigating
factors at first. Those responsible for the manage-

ment of affairs had no difficulty in procuring all their requirements from the forests.] The great continent appeared to hold inexhaustible tracts covered with dense jungles.) Their contents were unknown, but there was no apparent necessity for their detailed exploration even had this been a possibility.) The process of building up the empire Swee province by province in itself covered a considerable period Coworoka dienaco of years. Scientific knowledge amongst the European officials rempus was confined almost entirely to the members of the medical

prenent profession; and had this not been the case, in the early years of our occupation the botany of the forests, the species of trees they contained and their respective values, was an unopened book. The fact also that great tracts of the jungles were the aftermath of the method of shifting cultivation which had been practised for centuries, and contained nothing but a worthless scrub, was a matter which only received slow recognition.

To the Government and their officials the important part mos which forests play in nature and the great influence they exercise on the physical well-being of a country was unrecognised ; nor were they able to appreciate their importance to the people or their revenue-producing capacity. The Government Govt for some years obtained their requirements without difficulty and the people took all they wanted. The early administrators appear to have been convinced that this state of affairs could go on for an unlimited period; and that in many localities forests were an obstruction to agriculture and therefore a limiting factor to the prosperity of the country. The whole policy was to extend agriculture, and the watchword of the

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THE FORESTS OF INDIA time was to destroy the forests with this end in view. The direct and indirect value of the forests was under-estimated, as is clearly exhibited by the provisions of many of the earlier settlements, especially in Bengal and the Punjab, which transferred large forest areas in perpetuity to landowners or to cultivators who at that period had no legal right to them. The recipients of these grants did not at the time appreciate the boon conferred; for they attached no greater value to the forest than the Government itself. In other cases, and they were numerous, where the forests were not entirely alienated, the main rights of users, which constitute the value of the possession of the forests, were abandoned in favour of the cultivator.

This, as will be shown, was a transitory stage, but it covered a period of several years, and enormous destruction to valuable forests was the outcome. The time arrived when, with the advance of modern civilisation and the increased demands of both population and trade, the diminution of the forests began to be regarded with grave apprehension. The spread of railways at a later period brought the matter to a head. But before their appearance the increased area under agriculture and the rapidly multiplying flocks and herds, which ensued, owing to the greater security afforded the people under the settled government of British rule, caused greater demands upon the forests and their produce. And to obtain these demands the same methods continued to be practised, the habits of a pastoral and semi-nomadic population. No check had yet been introduced into the practice of firing the forests annually in spite of the glaring anomaly that if young growth was burnt it was obvious there could be no old trees for a future generation.

The true state of affairs was not appreciated by the Government until the failure to supply local requirements began to be felt. The first of these requirements which began to give out comparatively early was timber for shipbuilding; but in most instances the solution of the difficulties encountered was sought for in improved methods of exploitation both by Government agency or through contractors; and even when protection was accorded this was, for many years, only given to certain species of trees and not to the forests as a whole.

A general summary of the initial steps taken towards the introduction of forest conservancy between 1796 and 1850

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