During the period from 1795 to 1850, the East India Company Raj in India viewed forests chiefly as limiting agriculture. In Bengal, forested lands, classified as wastelands, had been included in zamindari (landlord) estates (Ribbentrop 1900, 60). Colonial administrators of this period also tended to perceive forests as being inexhaustible. Much of the woody vegetation, however, was not timber quality, being the product of a landscape long under shifting cultivation. The East India Company continued Indian rulers’ practices of selling blocks of forests or individual trees to timber merchants for a fixed down payment that encouraged great destruction and wastage in their extraction (Stebbing 1922, 35, 61). No attempts to introduce conservancy were made in the North West Provinces (NWP) or Bengal until after the revolt of 1857, even though the value of NWP sal (shorea robusta) forests was known from the time of the Gurkha wars in 1814–16, and the reports of Dr. Wallich, Superintendent of the Calcutta Botanical Gardens in 1825 (Stebbing 1922, 66–67, 201).

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.