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THE FORESTS OF INDIA
THE INTRODUCTION OF A FOREST ORGANISATION AND METHODICAL SYSTEM OF MANAGEMENT INTO THE FORESTS
OF THE COUNTRY, 1864-1870
N the previous volume the gradual stages by which the recognition of the value of the Forest Estate in India became apparent to the Government have been re
viewed. The forests over considerable tracts of the country had been cleared. Much of the remainder in the accessible parts of the Provinces which had been worked for supplying Government requirements and for trade purposes was in a devastated and ruined condition. In the wilder parts of the country occupied by the aboriginal tribes the forests were almost unknown, even the existing maps of the country, as already mentioned, showing them as “unexplored.” It was surmised that considerable areas in these regions would prove to have been destroyed by the system of shifting cultivation practised by the aboriginals, but no certainty existed as to how far these regions contained large amounts of timber which, though at present inaccessible, would be capable of exploitation with the increase of population and the opening out of communications. Throughout large areas unchecked devastation and exploitation still reigned, with its concomitants of firing the forests and unrestricted grazing. Added to these the decrease in large timber, required in increasing amounts by the railways and public services, with the rising price, were causing considerable alarm; whilst a new demand was being made by the former for fuel for the engines, a demand whose extent in the future could not be estimated. It was with the object of checking this state of affairs and taking the first steps in introducing Forest Conservancy that the Governments of some of the Provinces had already commenced to appoint Conservators of Forests and provide them with staffs. The recognition by the Secretary of State and the Government of India (vide Vol. I, Chap. XXVIII) of the grave position of the accessible forests of the country which were threatened with total annihilation unless prompt steps were taken to check the abuses to which they were subjected, found expression in the appointment of Brandis in 1864 to act as adviser to the Government of India with the designation of InspectorGeneral of Forests.
Before dealing with the steps taken by Government under Brandis' advice to introduce a proper forest organisation into the country, it will be necessary to glance briefly at certain events in the administration of India which were not without their influence on the growth of a forest policy.
Lord Elgin became Viceroy in 1862, but died in India after a year of office, being buried in Dharmsala. During the period the Umbeyla campaign took place on the North-West frontier. After some disasters the operations were brought to a fairly satisfactory conclusion towards the close of 1863. The Home Government, however, were very dissatisfied with the conduct of this campaign, and to this reason is attributed the selection as Governor-General of a member of the Indian Civil Service in the person of Sir John (afterwards Lord) Lawrence, known as the Saviour of the Punjab. Sir John Lawrence held the position till 1869, when he was succeeded by Lord Mayo. The process of reconstruction after the Mutiny storm, commenced by Lord Canning, the predecessor of Lord Elgin, was continued by Lawrence, who made it his business in the words of the Queen's Proclamation "to stimulate the peaceful industry of India, to promote works of public utility and improvement, and to administer the government for the benefit of all Her Majesty's subjects.” The Government of India, therefore, during the period dealt with in this part, was almost wholly concerned with matters of internal administration. To this cause is undoubtedly attributable the remarkable progress which was made in the introduction of forest conservancy into almost all the Provinces and local administrations under that Government.
The war with Bhutan, a small hill State on the frontier of Bengal in the Eastern Himalaya, which was in progress as already mentioned (Vol. I, p. 515), was concluded in 1865 by a treaty which enforced the cession of a strip of territory