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with different pests. It was held, however, to be probable that the majority of the Indian forest fungus parasites would prove entirely different from those of Europe and America, and the fact that the existence of a large number of new forms had not been brought to light furnished evidence of the absence of definite knowledge of the subject.
THE FORMATION OF PLANTATIONS AND THE IMPROVEMENT
OF THE FOREST CROPS, 1871-1900
VERY considerable correspondence had taken place through several decades on the subject of forming plantations, and a beginning had also been made
in certain provinces with the object of improving the conditions of the more or less destroyed forests. The work accomplished in these directions will be now reviewed.
THE FORMATION OF PLANTATIONS It will have been recognised, from the accounts given of the accelerated exploitation of the forests which took place after the establishment of British rule in India to provide for the construction of public works, military needs, and the requirements of the Admiralty, that the idea was held that the destroyed forests could best be replaced by the formation of plantations. Quite early in the nineteenth century this idea took shape and was given effect to, at first without success, in Madras. Conolly, Collector of Malabar, strongly advocated this measure, though he only regarded it from the point of view of making provision for the future needs of Government in teak timber. He was able to give practical shape to his views by commencing the teak plantations which bear his name. These, as has been shown, were successful almost from the start. Gibson in Bombay and Tremenheere in Tenasserim commenced the formation of teak plantations, in neither case with much success. In Burma the plantation idea to replace the cut-out teak areas was strongly supported by Falconer, although he also recommended, as had Wallich, the restoration of the teak by sowing teak seed broadcast through the cut-out forests. This latter method does not come within the province of plantations proper. At a later stage Cleghorn advised the formation of plantations in Madras, firstly to supply fuel for Madras city, for which the
Casuarina was being tentatively used with good results to plant up the sandy land adjacent to the seaboard ; and secondly,
1; to provide for the fuel supply of Ootacamund and Wellington. For this latter purpose eucalyptus and wattle and an acacia were employed also with striking success almost from the beginning. In the north the heavy fellings made in the deodar forests of the Punjab Himalaya had resulted in orders being issued that plantation work was to be undertaken in suitable areas near the rivers, with the object of maintaining the future supplies of this valuable species. The question of forming plantations with the object of adding to the fuel supplies was considered in the case of Simla by both Cleghorn and Falconer. In the plains the question became acute with the advent of the railways, and a great deal of consideration was given to this aspect of forest work by Brandis, Stewart and others. In the decade following the Mutiny we find this plantation question forming the subject of many despatches between the Secretary of State and the Government of India, the provision of fuel for the railways now being rapidly constructed in Madras, Bombay, the Punjab and the North-West Provinces being an imperative necessity. The Secretary of State made it clear that the railways were not to be given preferential treatment in prices at the expense of the local inhabitants, but that every effort should be made to take up land and form plantations to supply the fuel requirements of these localities and the several railways, wherever these latter could not be met by reserving sufficiently large areas of waste land containing scrub forest of sufficient growth to provide fuel.
In the Central Provinces also the work of forming teak plantations in selected sites had been commenced, two Scots Foresters having been obtained from home for the purpose. In Bengal the first plantation commenced was the cinchona plantation in the Darjiling Hills. This was under the direction of the Director of the Calcutta Botanic Gardens (Anderson), and efforts were made to start similar ones in Madras and Burma. But Anderson also laid out a forest nursery in the neighbourhood of Darjiling with the object of forming plantations therefrom.
Amongst exotic species which were being introduced into India were mahogany, Australian species of eucalyptus and wattle, the maritime pine and larch.
It is of course an accepted fact that plantations are the most effective and rapid means of insuring the regeneration of an exploited forest or to change its character to a more valuable one. But it is equally obvious that the cost of sowing and planting must limit the extension of such operations to localities favourably situated as regards soil, situation and markets. In such cases plantation work is justified and should pay. But to imagine, as it had been imagined for a long period of years, that the devastated forests could be replaced by plantations in so large a country as India with its rapidly increasing population and growing requirements in forest produce was a fallacy. Brandis was probably the first to realise the position and to perceive that the formation of plantations for many years to come must be made subservient to the great work of restoring the forests to something like normality by sylvicultural means as against arboricultural ones. That plantation work should at first be limited to denuded areas which it was imperative to re-stock, or to the introduction of species on to areas where they did not at the time exist.
This briefly was the position in 1870, with one exception. Teak plantation work had not proved a success in Burma at the time of the arrival there of Brandis. In 1856 he conceived the idea of making use of the toungya (shifting cultivation) system, in practice amongst the Karens, for the purpose of establishing teak plantations by persuading the men to interplant teak with the last crop of grain sown. As already described, the cultivator under this system vacated the area after raising two or three crops on it. Brandis' idea was to grant areas of forest suitable for teak to these men free, and thus obtain a crop of teak on the area at their departure. This system will be referred to again later.
The prevailing idea in the minds of the authorities on the subject of the future of plantations gave place, therefore, with the advent and progress of the Department, to the more practical one of improving the existing though devastated forests throughout the country. It is for this reason that, in comparison to the great area of forest under the control of the Department at the close of the century, the area of artificial plantations was insignificant. This does not mean that there were not areas throughout the country where such work was in crying need of being undertaken. There were many such. But, with the great amount of work with which it was coping, the Department had neither the staff, and therefore the time, nor the money to devote to this work.
The area of plantations recorded as successful amounted in 1900 in round figures to 100,000 acres, of which 68,000 were in the Bengal Presidency, 20,000 in Madras and 12,000 in Bombay. These figures are not, unfortunately, complete. They do not, and rightly, include artificial measures which had from time to time been taken in different parts of the country to complete and improve the regeneration in natural forests.
In Bombay, however, it was said that they might include certain cheap cultural operations designed for this purpose, and this would accordingly diminish the area of pure plantations given above for this Presidency. The figures, however, excluded areas which had been sown and plantedplantations in fact—but which had not proved sufficiently successful to be classed as regular plantations, though in many instances they were held to show a decided improvement on the original forest growth. Failures were also excluded. These exclusions vitiate the return, because it is well recognised amongst present-day foresters that there is as much, very often, to be learnt from a partial or direct failure as from a success; and in any event the financial success of plantation work as a whole can only be judged by adding the cost of the failures to that of the successes.
A brief review of the plantation work carried out in the different provinces will prove of interest.
The Nilumbur teak plantations were the first, as they have proved the most uniformly successful, in this class of work. The oldest of these were nearly sixty years of age at the end of the century and were at the time expected to be mature by 1930 to 1935. By 1900 an area of about 4200 acres had been planted. This area was not everywhere equally well stocked.
In some instances the selection of areas of unsuitable soil had resulted in a partial failure. The growth was considered to be remarkable on almost half the planted area, and the development was satisfactory on an additional 1800 acres, Up to 1894 about Rs.10,50,000 had been spent on the plantation, but by that time the revenue realised had already equalled the total expenditure. Ribbentrop gave the following anticipated forecast of the financial results of this work :
“The gross revenue to be realised during the ten years ending in 1905 has been estimated in excess of Rs.6,50,000. During this period the expenditure may still be estimated at 50 per cent of the gross income, but this percentage will diminish year by year as the income increases. A forecast has been made