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young growth and interfere with the production of straight timber in older trees. The epiphytic Fici, or figs, are also a danger, as had been drawn attention to by Latter and correctly explained by Falconer (I, p. 232). The seed deposited on the trees in the fork of a branch, and often in the crown, rapidly encloses the tree in a network which gradually strangles and kills the tree. The only measure which had been found practical up to the close of the century was the one suggested by Falconer, viz. to fell the tree. As regards the creeper cutting, by the methods in force millions of creepers were got rid of during this early period, and the cleanliness of the crops in this respect came to be looked upon as a test as to whether the subordinate staff, Foresters and Forest Guards, were looking after their beats properly. This work was systematically provided for in working plans as they came in force. These were the initiatory stages in the introduction of sylvicultural work in the forests. As soon, however, as the trained officers began to become sufficiently senior to obtain charge of the forest divisions in any numbers, matters progressed beyond this first stage. The system which was adopted and carried out up to the end of the period was what is known as Improvement Fellings." It was recognised that the introduction of this latter work must go hand in hand with the protection from fire and the restriction of grazing. Once the areas had been constituted reserves with demarcated boundaries, fire conservancy and, so far as possible, the regulation of the number of cattle were the next steps. With these matters regulated, or provisionally regulated, it was possible for the divisional officer to devote his energies to the work of improving the crops on the ground. The work necessary varied in degree according to the locality, species present on the ground, and the condition in which he found them. Other factors limiting the work in this respect were the size of the forests to be dealt with, the possibility of disposing of the timber to existing markets, the existing communications and facilities for transport, the size of the staff at his disposal, and whether possessed of any training in forestry, and finally, the sylvicultural knowledge of the officer himself.
It will be readily perceived that these factors varied enormously in different parts of the country and accounted for the apparent slow progress made in some parts, and as a whole its varying nature. For instance, in some parts of the North-West Provinces the forest areas were in comparatively
small compact blocks with a dense population on their boundaries. Sylvicultural operations commenced at a comparatively early date in such forests, and by the close of the century promising young sâl crops, with a fair approach to normality, were to be seen. In the School Circle forest area, it will be remembered, work was commenced almost from the inauguration of that educational establishment, and very excellent results were to be seen later. The forests of the Dun (which formed part of this Circle) had been ruined by destructive fellings (vide p. 330; also Vol, I). Ribbentrop says that when he first saw these forests in 1869-70 they were in a terrible state. In 1900 they formed an almost compact pole forest, which must delight the Forester's eye. I always like to show these to visitors, but the majority of the non-professional men will not believe in their former ruined state."
Such forests proclaimed the fact that sylviculture on Indian departmental lines had commenced to take shape in India. And areas of this kind were under working plans, which had already assumed some complexity in drafting. But at the close of the period it must be confessed that such examples were rare. In the Central Provinces some progress had also been made in this respect with sâl, and to a limited extent in Bengal. In the Western Himalaya some of the deodar forests. had received a considerable amount of attention. But for these successes there were vast areas of forest under the Department which were still only passing through the initiatory stages of treatment. The writer joined the Singbhum Division in Chota Nagpur in the early 'nineties as a young, newly out assistant. In this magnificent area of sâl forests there was but little demand. The annual revenue did not cover the expenditure, and the improvement work undertaken was confined to the annual marking of a few hundred trees for sale. This division was one of the exceptions to the more common rule of ruined forests. As mentioned on p. 395 these forests were inaccessible owing to want of communications, and therefore had escaped the more usual universal destruction. They contained a very large surplus growing stock, which on the advice of Hill, at the time officiating Inspector-General of Forests, was cut out between 1896-8 and utilised for sleepering a State railway in the North-West Provinces. This work necessitated opening out communications, building bungalows and adequate houses for the staff, and other improvements all to the benefit
of the forest. This work completed, it was possible to prepare a working plan for the area and commence serious sylvicultural operations.
Large portions of the forests were not, however, in so favourable a case, and the work of sylvicultural improvement proceeded slowly.
As has been said, the improvement fellings varied. The main idea underlying the treatment was to favour the valuable commercial species and eliminate the less valuable and those interfering with the growth of the former. Subsidiary work was to encourage the younger age classes, i.e. the younger trees of the valuable species, by removing weeds and low growth tending to choke them, and to lighten the cover overhead by girdling or removing inferior species of trees. The improvement fellings themselves would naturally vary greatly in intensity in the class of forest here considered-the deciduous or leaf-shedding mixed forest containing a considerable number of different species of trees with probably areas of bamboos or a second story of bamboos, shrubs, and so forth. The abundance of the valuable species, of which only a few had any commercial value at this period, had first to be carefully ascertained, both old trees, middle-aged and young growth and seedlings. The degree or intensity of the necessary improvement felling or thinning would thereby be determined. To the trained Forest Officer the treatment would then have been fairly easy, but for the serious drawbacks that faced him. He knew little about the sylviculture of the species he was dealing with, their rate of growth, the soils best suited to them, aspects, and the amount of shade they preferred or would stand. Consequently when the improvement fellings first commenced in a forest, the sâl areas, for instance, it was imperative that the work should be undertaken cautiously. The trees stood on the ground in mixture of all ages. Any undue interference with the canopy would seriously reduce the productive capacity of the soil in a country subject to a long hot season followed by a heavy monsoon, such as is experienced in India. In a forest of this kind the young growth of the more valuable species was often overtopped and suppressed by large trees of inferior kinds. The object sought to be attained by these fellings was to obtain a more vigorous new crop containing a far higher proportion of the more valuable commercial species than existed in the old natural forests. The work, as it proceeded, consisted in dividing up
a forest into blocks and going over each block in turn with an improvement felling, the intensity of which was dependent on the condition of the forest under treatment.
When the sale was possible, the mature trees, when not required as seed-bearers to regenerate the area, were marked for felling, and the inferior species (which at this period included all those for which there was no market owing to their timbers not having come into general use) were either felled or girdled wherever they interfered with the development of young growth of the valuable ones. This was a rough-and-ready procedure, the only one possible in the large areas being dealt with. Its great drawback was to be found in the fact that it filled the forests with a large amount of dry and inflammable material, the treatment being consequently restricted to fire-protected forests. A few years of successful fire protection witnessed the disappearance of this material, since it rapidly rotted under the influence of the heat and monsoon rains, much of it also being bodily removed by the work of termites, the great scavengers in this respect of the Indian forests.
When the first fellings had gone round the whole forest, they were re-started in the first block. This work, combined with fire protection and restriction of grazing, had produced remarkable results in some localities by the end of the century -even when the comparatively short period it had been in force is taken into account. In fact, in some instances the question of the advisability or possibility of changing the treatment to one of the other more technical systems in force on the Continent of Europe was being considered, although the areas had been under working plans for scarcely more than one period of the plan.
One important feature, then, of this work was the imperative necessity of assisting the younger growth on the ground. In many cases it was found that the younger age classes of the forest were sadly deficient, especially of the more valuable species. These latter were often slower in development than the quicker inferior species, or were very liable to be choked out by the dense mass of weed growth and grass, or to be killed out comparatively early by the quicker-growing soft woods or bamboos, and so forth. The treatment prescribed careful attention to these matters, and sought to make provision for filling up blanks by scattering seed broadcast or even planting up with seedlings taken from elsewhere in the forest where they were plentiful. That this work could not be carried out
with anything approaching to thoroughness by the officers in charge of divisions at this period was due to the enormous areas they had to control, the paucity of the staffs, and the want of education in forestry matters of the greater proportion. For careful supervision was a sine quâ non if success was to be attained by these operations. Nevertheless, a considerable amount of data was collected and some progress made in the knowledge of the species, a comparatively small number, which had a commercial value at the time.
It was found that the work proceeded with the least difficulty, if the term may be used, where, in the absence of sylvicultural knowledge of the individual requirements of all the species dealt with, the species appeared naturally in unmixed forest, such as the sâl and deodar. The teak, however, gave greater trouble. In previous parts of this history the absence of teak regeneration has been commented upon by early observers, such as Wallich, Falconer, Tremenheere, Guthrie and others. It was generally attributed to the fact that the seed did not germinate easily. This question received considerable attention during the period here considered.
In the evergreen tropical forests the vegetation was luxuriant. In these forests the removal of an old tree, leaving an open space, resulted in the latter becoming densely covered with high grass, bamboos, plantains, wild ginger and so forth, or with a dense crop of seedlings of an inferior fast-growing species. It has been shown that such was the aftermath of shifting cultivation, under which all valuable species of tree disappeared from the area. The regeneration of this type in its varying conditions remained one of the most difficult problems facing the Department at the end of the period. It is well represented by the forests of the Chittagong Hill Tracts and South Lushai Hills, which contain such valuable timbers as Lagerströmia Flos-Reginæ, Dipterocarpus, Xylia, Acrocarpus, and many others. These forests were being exploited (they were termed unclassed forests), with but little efficient safeguards owing to lack of staff, up to the end of the century to the knowledge of the writer, who held charge of the division in the closing years. The sylviculture of these species and their requirements was a sealed book in these regions.
That this was the positon at which the Department had arrived in 1900 is evidenced by the following brief summary by Ribbentrop :
"Here in India it is necessary to rely almost entirely on the