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Government to enter into engagements with several railway timber merchants in the Punjab, who were engaged in working the forests of Kashmir, under the permission of His Highness the Maharajah, to purchase from them annually a large quantity of deodar timber at fixed rates. It was hoped by the Government of India that “these arrangements will enable us to provide for a large portion of the timber requirements of the Indus Valley line.'

The numerous papers bearing upon this urgent matter are most interesting reading, and show clearly the extraordinary demands which were thus necessarily made upon the new and but partly organised Forest Department. That it should have been able to rise to and grapple successfully with an unexampled position, as it undoubtedly did, affords perhaps the greatest testimony to the great administrative gifts possessed by Brandis and to the energy and ability shown by his staff. That the work was intricate and dangerous is obvious by the admitted necessity of having to anticipate the fellings in certain regions, and this in the absence of an adequate knowledge of the contents of the forests. So far as could be done Brandis' arrangements guarded against this dangera danger which, outside the Government of India and the Secretary of State, was but dimly apprehended or understood by the officers of the Local Governments and Administrations.

This matter is dealt with at greater length in the following chapters on the North-West Provinces.

CHAPTER VIII

THE INTRODUCTION OF FOREST CONSERVANCY INTO THE

NORTH-WEST PROVINCES AND OUDH, 1865-70

I

T has been already shown that in 1865 Forest Conservancy

in the North-West Provinces (now called the United Provinces) was in the hands of the Commissioners of

Divisions, who had been appointed ex officio Conservators. It is not apparent from the records how this departure, which had not been made elsewhere in India, came about. It may have been at the instigation of Colonel Ramsay, Commissioner of Kumaun, who it was well known had taken an interest in the forests of his charge and wished to keep them in his own hands. It is on record, however, that in 1864 the Government of India had applied to the Secretary of State for sanction to the appointment of Dr. Jameson as “ Inspector of Forests in the North-West Provinces as a temporary and provisional arrangement, pending the more complete organisation of the Forest Department. The Secretary of State (then Sir Charles Wood, who during his tenure of office showed such keen interest in the organisation of the Forest Department in India and the preservation of the forests) accorded his sanction to the appointment; but it was never made. The omission to bring the Provinces into line with other parts of India undoubtedly put back Forest Conservancy in them at the period.

In the previous volume (Ch. XXVI) a description has been given of the activities of Webber (the Forest Surveyor) in exploring the hill forests in Kumaun and Garhwal. He subsequently descended to the sâl forests of the submontane hills and carried out his investigations and surveys in the sal forests there and in the Bhabar.

The Forest Surveyor commenced his explorations from Huldwani, so well known to later generations of Forest Officers in the North-West Provinces. Huldwani he describes as an oasis in the dry Bhabar. There is no water in the Bhabar. On leaving the hills all the rivers flow underground beneath the stony river-beds, only coming to the surface again on reaching

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the Terai region to the south. During the monsoon months only, the river beds in the Bhabar are occupied by a turbulent flood of rushing waters. Huldwani was the head-quarters of a canal system which had been constructed by the Government. These canals carried the water from the hills, by means of which great tracts of the Bhabar were reclaimed from the forest by irrigation. This work had been undertaken under the direction of Colonel Ramsay, and there were at the period hundreds of acres of cultivation, settled by thriving and industrious Kumaonis. The great belt of sâl forest stretched from here in an easterly direction by south for a 1000 miles, with few intervals. Some of the forests of the region administered by the Commissioner had already benefited to some extent by the measures of working and protection he had introduced. Webber notices that in parts areas “contained trees 40 feet high and growing healthily. There were immense numbers of fine saplings 20 feet high and in time there will be sâl-timber galore.

Webber describes the forest types of this region, with the large savannah areas of tall grass, which are now well known, and states that the natives who grazed cattle in the forests took care to burn all the long grass, in order to get up young green grass as soon as rain fell, the fire spreading from thence into the forests. He does not appear, at this period in his forestry career, to have appreciated the damage done by fires in the forests, of which he had had little experience, but he admits " that in reserved forests it is advisable to exclude fires, in order to give seedlings a good start ”-a somewhat lukewarm assent to the crying need that adequate fire protection should be introduced into the country if the forests were to be saved from inevitable destruction. From his remarks on sport it is apparent that at the period game of all kinds, including tiger, abounded in the forests. Several herds of elephants were also in existence in the region. But they were not now allowed to be shot,“ being too valuable and scarce. They used to be captured by the Government Kheda Department, but are now allowed to roam in peace.” Describing the great road which ran from Bareilly to Huldwani, Webber says it had been cut through the forest “running perfectly straight in both directions to the horizon. The trees had been felled well back from the great wide road, so as to afford no covert for wild animals too near its course.” He notes the remarkable change in scenery which takes place on reaching the foot-hills of the

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Himalaya, from perfectly flat plains to precipices and rocks and perpetual declivity, “where a flat place to pitch a tent is scarcely to be found." The forest, he records, which clothed the spurs and valleys in the foot-hills was much less injured by man, and in the steeper and more inaccessible places it was often quite natural and untouched, there being no roads or paths save animal paths.

The last survey (of 1865) carried out by Webber was that of the Forests of Gorakhpur, bordering on the Nepal country. His orders were to map out the forests of that district, of which he says little was known as regards their timber-producing capacity.

The extensive forests had been looked upon by the civil authorities as of little value and almost exhausted, and indeed, the object of Government had been rather to permit the trees to be cut down and the land reclaimed for cultivation, so as to increase the land revenue. Large blocks had been given as grants to natives, who had worked out the fine timber, and then left the forests still uncleared and more worthless than before. The records and revenue maps of the jungle lands lying along the northern boundaries of the Gorakhpur District and frontiers of Nepal showed that there was a considerable extent of swampy Terai land, covered with long grass, interspersed with stretches of forest reaching southward along the banks of winding streams which flowed into the River Gandak, a considerable affluent of the Ganges. The forests were to be guarded from further depredation, and mapped out into blocks and reserves. The work of carefully surveying the whole extent was soon commenced, marking the boundaries of the various reserves, and ascertaining the character and quantity of the timber growing." A native official had apparently been in charge of this area hitherto, but did not seem to have ever entered the forests during his tenure of office, and he accompanied the Forest Surveyor as guide with considerable trepidation. Webber gives a vivid account of a cyclone, accompanied by hailstones the size of pigeons' eggs, experienced almost at the start of this work, which laid his camp flat and destroyed the whole of the crops, cattle and houses of the villagers in the line of its path, some half-mile only in width. The Government then, as now, ever concerned for the welfare of the people, at once came to the assistance of the ruined agriculturists, remitting all rents and taxes and affording other relief.

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The Forest Surveyor visited the Sunari Forest, an area of considerable extent on the Nepal frontier. This forest consisted of a dense growth of sâl trees over 400 to the acre, interspersed with many other species, as is usual, “ the stems which were not more than 8 inches thick standing so close together that an elephant could with difficulty force his way between.” This forest had had all the good timber cut out long since by contractors, “to whom it had been let by Government to clear and make what they could.” The present growth of young seedlings and shoots from the old stools was the result of only a few years' quiescence from the interference of man. Northward over the Nepal frontier the old timber in the extensive forest tracts had not then been cut out, “and the great stems of magnificent trees 100 feet high and 6 feet in girth are a sight to rejoice the heart of a Forester.” It will be remembered that after the Gurkha War of 1815-17, the Gurkhas had shown how greatly they appreciated the value of the sâl forests, each tree of which they said was a mine of gold (I, p. 193).

In his Survey Report of Gorakhpur the average number of trees per acre were given as follows: Sâl seedlings, 95 ; crooked old trees, 52; coppice shoots, III; total, 258. Other species, 120 ; grand total, 378.

In 1866 Webber was appointed Acting Deputy Conservator of Forests of Gorakhpur. “The regular work,” he says, “consisted in dividing the forest into divisions according to a working plan,” the ground to be worked over in a certain number of years. The forest was already full of sâl trees, but many of them had been spoilt by tapping for gum, and only the worst crooked stems remained after the good trees had been cut. There were, however, plenty of seedlings on the ground, and it was decided first of all to thin out all the bad stems which could not grow into good timber and leave nothing standing but straight young stems. The native demand for the crooked poles, called ballis, was good, as lately all cutting had been prohibited. Thus a considerable income accrued, supplemented by dues for grazing cattle, and the expense of thinning and cutting away creepers, which were choking the young sâl, was amply covered. The prevention of fires, so as to allow the seedlings to get ahead, was also instituted. 1

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1 It is of high interest to record that by 1921 a money yield of thirty rupees (about 45s.) per acre per annum was being realized in the Gorakhpur Forest Division, an area of under 200 square miles.

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