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To carry out the above arrangements, the Government of India will be asked to make over a portion of the yearly revenues accruing from these forests for the purpose of defraying the cost of the Ranger and the small staff needful to accompany him into the jungles.

General Fytche directs that a copy of these remarks be communicated to the Commissioner of Arakan for report on the following points :

Ist. Restriction of toungya cultivation.

2nd. The amount of pay and allowances he would propose for the Inspector or Ranger.

3rd. The modification he would suggest in the amended rules of 1865."

And, so far as the Forest Department was concerned, here the matter remained for the next thirty years and more.

This review of the forests of British Burma for the period may be concluded with the following financial statement in pounds sterling for the two years 1868-9 and 1869–70. “The financial results of the two years are very satisfactory :

1868-69 1869–70
£

£
Receipts

81,791 98,487 Expenditure

42,313 41,961

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The cash sum realised as surplus over the Budget Estimate in the latter year was £21,026.

£
The total amount of net revenue for the
two years is

96,004
To which must be added the value of stock

in hand and of outstanding claims . 46,909

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Making a total profit on the two years of

£142,913"

.

It is of interest to note that Schlich had already been promoted Deputy Conservator in 1869, the Forest Officer list, excluding the Conservator, Seaton, reading on Ist August, 1870, as follows:

“Deputy Conservators, Graham, Schlich and Slym;

* Assistant Conservators, Elsmer, Buchanan and Macpherson. Stenhouse was transferred in 1869 to officiate as Conservator of Forests in Bengal in place of Leeds on furlough.”

CHAPTER VI

THE PROGRESS OF FOREST CONSERVANCY IN THE CENTRAL

PROVINCES, 1865–1870

T

HE commencement of the organisation of a Forest Department in the Central Provinces and the work upon which the staff was engaged have been

already detailed in Volume I, Chapter XXI. Captain Pearson and his Assistants had commenced the exploration and examination of the extensive forest tracts, whilst at the same time devoting some of their time to collecting for sale such of the logs lying in the forests, the aftermath of the reckless fellings made after the Mutiny, as were likely to prove saleable. As Pearson said, the sale of some of these logs formed the revenue of their first modest forest Budget. The years devoted to this work of exploration were arduous years, and Pearson was fortunate in having secured the services, as one of his Assistants, of Lieutenant (later Captain) James Forsyth of the Bengal Staff Corps, one of the most brilliant and versatile young officers of that day. . Possessed of high powers of observation, a cultivated mind, and literary gifts unusual for a junior military officer of the period, Captain Forsyth carried out without sparing himself work of the greatest value to the Department during the next five years, at the end of which period he was transferred as Settlement Officer and Deputy Commissioner of Nimar, the transfer giving proof of the high opinion which had been formed of his capabilities. But his health was shattered by the arduous years spent in forest exploration work, and three years later he went home on furlough only to die at the early age of thirty-three. His loss must have proved a severe one to the Province. He left behind a lasting memorial in his book, The Highlands of Central India, which, in addition to being a sporting classic, is an invaluable record of the early days of forest work and life in the Central Provinces. Captain Forsyth

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died whilst his book was still in the press, and thus never witnessed the success and popularity it achieved.

Whilst the forest staff were engaged upon the work of exploring the forests, a settlement branch was enquiring into the ownership of the land throughout the provinces. As has been already stated, owing to the internecine warfare which had proceeded for so long our advent into the provinces, much land had gone out of cultivation ; for no one dared to lay claim to the ownership of land, since this assumption led to robbery and extortion from the owner by the chief robber who happened to be paramount for the time being in the district. Our orderly rule changed this aspect of affairs, and aspirants to the ownership of the land appeared on all sides.

To settle these matters and to prevent the culturable wastes being seized by immigrant settlers, the Government appointed special officers to undertake settlement work under a branch termed “The Settlement of the Land Revenue." The result of the elaborate and laborious enquiries undertaken, for every village and hamlet had to be visited and every acre of land appraised and assessed, was that where any title to a property had been established, the freehold, bearing liability to the fixed Government rent-charge, was bestowed on the claimant, while all land to which no such claim could be established was declared the unhampered property of the State. Most of the hill chiefs were admitted to the full ownership of the whole of their enormous wastes, though certain restrictions as to the destruction of the forests were imposed on them. The area which remained to the State in the highlands after the settlement was only 14,500 square miles, of which 9500 was considered to be culturable, and the rest barren waste. A portion of this area was reserved as State Forest, but in every district much good land remained available for sale or lease, under definite rules which were enacted.

The total population of this region at that time was about four and one-third millions; of these three and one-third millions were Aryans and one million only belonged to the aboriginal races. These latter comprised Gonds (826,484), who gave the name of Gondwana to the country and have close affinities with the Tamil-speaking Dravidians of Southern India, and are thus exceptional to the other aborigines of these hills who have no such connection. The Kols (37,000), who occupy the north-east of the region and stretch into Chota Nagpur; the Kurs or Korkus (44,000); Bygas (18,000); Bhils in the west

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(20,000); and another 25,000 aborigines who had no cohesive language or territory of their own.

Forsyth gives some most interesting information on the forests and tree distribution at the period, a summary of which will enable a clear picture to be formed of the problems before the newly organised Forest Department.

From a botanical and zoological point of view this region is of high interest, as it forms the meeting-ground of some forms of vegetable and animal life which appear to be characteristic of north-eastern and south-western India. The chief forest tree of Upper India is the sâl (Shorea robusta), a tree addicted to occupying gregariously the tracts it flourishes in to the exclusion of other species. It forms great forests in the plains along the base of and in the lower foot-hills of the Himalaya, and also covers the greater portions of the hilly region to the south of the Gangetic valley. From the latter tract it stretches along the tableland of Chota Nagpur and thence extends into the Central Provinces in two great branches, separated by the open, cleared plain of Chattisgarh. The southern branch reaches as far as the Godaveri River, and the northern embraces the eastern half of the Satpura highlands, both branches ceasing almost exactly at the eightieth parallel of east longitude. To the west of this is the teak, which is absent from Northern India and Bengal and found but scantily in the Central Provinces to the east of eighty degrees longitude. Its method of growth, as has been already shown for Madras and Burma, is dissimilar to that of the sảl, the teak growing in scattered clumps or individuals intermixed with numerous other species.

Forsyth attempts a better explanation for the “peculiar disposition of these two timber trees” than any which had yet appeared, ascribing it to their habit of growth and relation to various soils.

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“The sâl,” says Forsyth, “is a tree possessed of a remarkable power of propagating itself, shedding an enormous number of seeds, at a season (the commencement of the rains) when the usual jungle fires have ceased, and which sprout almost immediately on their reaching the ground. On the other hand, the teak seeds after the rainy season, and the seeds themselves are covered by a hard shell which must be decomposed by long exposure to moisture and heat before they will germinate. This necessitates their exposure throughout

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