JAC Board Class 9th Social Science Notes History Chapter 4 Forest Society and Colonialism Notes
- Forests provide us various natural resources of economic and medicinal value.
- Due to increasing population and rapid industrialisation, world’s forest areas are disappearing at fast rate.
- The disappearance of forests is referred to as deforestation.
→ Why Deforestation?
- The process of deforestation began many centuries ago in India. Under colonial rule, it became more systematic and extensive.
- As population increased over the centuries and the demand for food went up, peasants extended the boundaries of cultivation, clearing forests and breaking new land.
→ Land to be Improved
- Forests disappeared to a great extent and cultivation area rose by 6.7 million hectares between 1880 and 1920.
- Sleepers on the Tracks
- The spread of railways from the 1850s created a new demand. To run locomotives, wood was needed as fuel, and to lay railway lines, sleepers were essential to hold the tracks together.
- As the railway tracks spread through India, a larger and larger number of trees were felled.
- Large areas of natural forests were also cleared to make way for tea, coffee and rubber plantations to meet Europe’s growing need for these commodities.
→ The Rise of Commercial Forestry
- The British were worried that the use of forests by local people and the reckless felling of trees by traders would destroy the forests. So they decided to invite a German expert, Dietrich Brandis, for advice, and made him the first Inspector General of Forests of India.
- Rules about the use of forest resources had to be framed. Brandis set up the Indian Forest Service in 1864 and helped to formulate the Indian Forest Act of 1865.
- The Imperial Forest Research Institute was set up at Dehradun in 1906. The system they taught here was called scientific forestry.
- In scientific forestry, natural forests which had lots of different types of trees were cut down. In their place, one type of tree was planted in straight rows. This was called as plantation.
- The Indian Forest Act, 1878 divided forests into three categories : reserved, protected and village forests. The best forests were called ‘reserved forests’. Villagers could not take anything from these forests. For house building or fuel, they could take wood from protected or village forests.
→ How were the Lives of People Affected
- The Forest Act meant severe hardship for villagers across the country. After the Act, all their everyday practices cutting wood for their houses, grazing their cattle, collecting fruits and roots, hunting and fishing became illegal. It was also common for police constables and forest guards to harass people by demanding free food from them.
→ How did Forest Rules affect Cultivation
- One of the major impacts of European colonialism was on the practice of shifting cultivation. European foresters regarded this practice as harmful for the forests. Therefore, the government decided to ban shifting cultivation. As a result, many communities were forcibly displaced from their homes in the forests.
→ Who Could Hunt
- The customary practice of hunting was prohibited by the forest laws. Those who were caught hunting were now punished for poaching.
- Under colonial rule, the scale of hunting increased largely, and as a result, many animals became almost extinct.
→ New Trades, New Employments and New Services
- While people lost out in many ways after the forest department took control of the forests, some people benefitted from the new opportunities that had opened up in trade. Many communities left their traditional occupations and started trading in forest products.
- In India, trade in forest products was a regular practice since the medieval period.
- The British government gave sole right to large European trading firms to trade in forest products of particular areas.
→ Rebellion in the Forest
- In many parts of India and the world, forest communities rebelled against the changes imposed on them.
- In India, Siddhu and Kanu of Santhal paraganas, Birsa Munda of Chhota Nagpur, Alluri Sitarama Raju of Andhra Pradesh revolted against the new forest policy. They are still remembered today in many songs and stories.
→ The People of Bastar
- Bastar is located in the southern most part of Chhattisgarh and borders of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra.
- A number of different communities live in Bastar such as Maria and Muria Gonds, Dhurwas, Bhatras and Halbas.
- The people of Bastar believe that each village was given its land by the earth, and in return, they look after the earth by making some offerings at each agricultural festival.
→ The Fears of the People
- When the colonial government proposed to reserve two-thirds of the forest in 1905, and stop shifting cultivation, hunting and collection of forest produce, the people of Bastar were very worried. They began to gather and discuss their issues in their village councils.
- Every village contributed something to the rebellions’ expenses. Bazaars were looted, the houses of officials and traders, schools and police stations were burnt and robbed and grain redistributed.
- The British sent troops to suppress the rebellion. It took three months for the British to regain control.
- In a major victory for the rebels, work on reservation was temporarily suspended and the area to be reserved was reduced to roughly half of that planned before 1910.
→ Forest Transformations in Java
- There were many similarities in the laws for forest control in Indonesia and India. Java is a place in Indonesia where the Dutch started forest management. Like the British, they also wanted timber from Java for ship building.
→ The Wood Cutters of Java
- The Kalangs of Java were a community of skilled forest cutters and shifting cultivators. When the Dutch began to gain control over the forests in the eighteenth century, they tried to make the Kalangs work under them. In 1770, the Kalangs resisted by attacking a Dutch fort at Joana, but the uprising was suppressed.
→ Dutch Scientific Forestry
- In the nineteenth century, when it became important to control territory and not just people, the Dutch enacted forest laws in Java, restricting villagers’ access to forests.
- The Dutch first imposed rents on land being cultivated in the forest and then exempted some villages from these rents if they worked collectively to provide free labour and buffaloes for cutting and transporting timber. This was known as the blandongdiensten system.
→ Samin’s Challenge
- Around 1890, Surontiko Samin of Randublatung village, began questioning the state ownership of the forest. Soon, a widespread movement developed.
→ War and Deforestation
- The First World War and the Second World War had a major impact on forests. In Java, just before the Japanese occupied the region, the Dutch followed a ‘scorched earth’ policy, destroying sawmills, and burning huge piles of giant teak logs so that they would not fall into Japanese hands.
- After the war, it was difficult for the Indonesian forest service to get their land back.
→ New Development in Forestry
- Since the 1980s, governments across Asia and Africa have begun to see that scientific forestry and the policy of keeping forest communities away from forests have resulted in many conflicts.
- Conservation of forests rather than collecting timber has become a more important goal.
- Local forest communities and environmentalists are thinking of different forms of forest management.
→ Important Dates and Related Events
- 1775: Split of Mataram kingdom of Java.
- 1770: The Kalangs attack a Dutch fort at Joana in Java.
- 1864: Setting up of the Indian Forest Service.
- 1875: Enactment of the Indian Forest Act.
- 1878: Amendment to Indian Forest Act.
- 1890: Surontiko Samin of Randublatung village questioned the state ownership of forest.
- 1899-190: Terrible famine in Bastar.
- 1905: Government proposal to reserve two-thirds of the forests.
- 1906: Setting up of the Imperial Forest Research Institute at Dehradun.
- 1907-08: Famine in Bastar, again.
- 1910: Rebellion in Bastar.
- 1927: Amendment to the Indian Forest Act.
→ Colonialism: The policy or practice of a wealthy or powerful nation’s maintaining or extending its control over other countries, especially in establishing settlements or exploiting resources.
→ Deforestation: Refers to the disappearance of forests.
→ Afforestation: Development and cultivation of new forest lands.
→ Aboriginal Communities: Native communities of any place.
→ Sleepers: Wooden planks laid across railway tracks; they hold the tracks in position.
→ Scientific Forestry: A system of cutting trees controlled by the Forest Department in which old trees are cut and new trees are planted in straight rows.
→ Shifting Cultivation: A type of cultivation in which cultivators clear the forests by burning it and use the ash as manure. It is also known as slash and bum technique.
→ Criminal Tribes: Nomadic and pastoralist communities were labelled as criminal tribes because they used to steal wood from the forests.
→ Devsari or Dand or Man: A small token fee paid by the people of one village to the people of other village of Bastar in exchange of wood.
→ Blandongiensten System: This system was introduced by the Dutch in Java under which some villages were exempted from the taxes in terms of free labour and animals for cutting and transportating timber from forests.
→ Dietrich Brandis: A German expert on forests who became the first Inspector General of Forests in India.
→ Alluri Sitaram Raju: Leader of the forest community in Andhra Pradesh