The Advent of into Uttarakhand Forest(1815-1945)



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This Paper inquest about the advent of colonialism in Garhwal, Kumaon forests and the impact endured by Kumaonie and Garhwali people by invasion of British not only on their state but on entire forest, their own resources. This paper further discourse the advent of British towards Uttarakhand from Kumaon region their proliferation to entire province, rampant extraction of Oak, Timber and Sal trees. The entire region was indentified to fulfil un-quenching need of wood and snatched away all the resources from native people imposed heavy taxes and fines in every alteration of forest rules different ways are determine to exploit each and every single tree. Last paragraph impends to wonder upon sorrow state of Indian forest form 1805 to 2017 as only regime changes but situation remains unvarying.
Uttarakhand and its Forest
The Advent of British Empire sail form Kumaon region to entire Uttarakhand. Unlike Gorkhas , people of Uttarakhand deliberately supported British regime due to suffering and agony bestowed by the Gorkhas. Although both the regimes of Gorkhas and British had exploited each-every facade of natural resources of Uttarakhand. After defeating Gorkhas the British started prolifying its dirigisme into entire province of Uttarakhand started form kumaon and headed toward Garhwal region.
After 1815 northern region forest commander Dietrich Brandis under commissioner G.W Traill, they entered Himalayan region with the cause, British commenced making laws to exploit the Himalayan forest that to basically looking at the fine quality of Oak and Timber wood which were memorising British to fulfil the demand of strong wood for the construction of northern railways tracks and seats, berths building. British Ramify Uttarakhand forest on three zone first reserved category second Preserve category and third for the civil category unlike without pondering the cascading effect on the Garhwali and Kumaoni people who have great dependence on forest, British kept villagers aloof from their own grown and preserve forest. The reason behind to ramifying entire forest in three different zone was increasing need of wood demand for the British, the preserved forest were made to grow those trees which were basically take time to mature for like Timber wood, the reserved forest was for maintaining ongoing supply of wood for the British either for the ship building or construction of railways and the last small semi areas of dense forest was given to villagers for their consumption need but availability of required natural resources was really negligible, tones of oak and timber was extracted by the English during 1815 to 1840 but after that cascading effects was started, the instances heat of summers during February and June caused lots of forest fire and many times by the villagers due to anger against British due to which British was having revue losses. When the committee was constituted to analyse the reason behind the forest fire under supervision of “Wyndham” submitted his report to Dietrich in his report it was advice to increase villagers participation and co-operation again in the forest activity rather than taking away accessibility of forest from them.
After 1878 the first law of Indian Forest was enacted, under which forest was guard by the local police. But resulted unprecedented despite to provide independence to villagers to excess forest they had been asked to bribe forest police several times even to pick small twigs of woods for their fuel wood, on the other hand black marketing was infused by local police itself private constructed stipulated with forest officials and numerous amount of wood smuggling within the purview of authority was started by the help of river Ganga wood logs had been swim to plain land side and then collected to Bareilly. Therefore British Government was facing tremendous demand of wood for the expansion of railways in the north region and even for inputs for their industries in England. Millions tones of fine well toned wood of oak,sal and Timber had been burned for simply coal purposes for the railway fuel. By observing failure of local police management “Dietrich” suggest British government to dissolve the forest department into revenue department as earlier because after formation of forest department Britisher were excepting increment in the supply of wood which has resulted unsatisfactory. The another aspect of clearing forest has came from the side of British the expansion of their colonies in hills has reduce the forest cover with more plantation of tea business has increased cascading impact on forest cover which was dampened the continuous demand for wood.
Table 1
Timber and Firewood Outturn in Uttaranchal, 1887-88 to 1912-13 (in 1000 cft)

Year Timber Firewood Total
1987-88 1778 3509 5287
1990-91 2712 5831 8543
1994-95 1684 5876 7470
1901-02 2959 5680 8638
1908-09 4087 5877 9964
1910-11 4502 6032 10534
1911-12 5105 6228 11333
1912-13 8692 5402 14395

Source: Annual Progress Reports of the Forest Department, UP, for concerned years.

As it has been observed form the above table that how rampant was the demand of timber from 1888 to 1912 a second highest demand was for the fire wood this is because majority of industry and railways mechanism was demanding energy in form of coal. But after 1915 the Kumaon and Garhwal natural resources had started shrinking, the Kumoan commissioner Dietrich failed to sustain un-interrupted supply and both Preserve and Reserve forest started giving negative returns due to vast variation between reduction in the rate of cutting of trees and rate of plantation and growth. Again after 1915 the British required immense amount of wood supply for the ongoing 1st world war (many of the troops of Kumaon and Garhwal has left the Kumaon regiment to protest against the suppression by British), secondly for construction of ships and for the fuel purposes but irony is faced by the people of Uttarakhand because they were denied to use any of natural resources from their own forest not even for cremation of human body, Kumaonies has to collect wood stick at night from the forest for the coking purposes.
Colonial Approach of Today: According to Wydham we cannot have prosperous forest without co-operation of village society. Today’s Indian forest policy akin with British forestry policy our government still keeps aloof village society from forest. Rigid forest laws keeps villagers totally aloof from the dense forest villagers cannot use any of the natural output of forest if they wish to use any they have to bribe the forest official, same as used to occur in era of British. Despite that people of Uttarakhand initiated well known idea of Chipko movement and activist like Gaura Devi, Sunder lal Bahugana who always stood to perpetuate forest, from them government had taken all the rights and impend them to remain in confused vicious cycle of corruption and trouble. If we really wish to expand our forest cover we have to co-operate between village society and forest department also tries to provide equal property rights to all the villagers as forest also belong to them from decades. British Bishop of London Church had the visit to Grahwal and Kumaon near in 1840 while wondering he saw the massive devastation of cutting and exploitation of natural resources, he further mentioned that Uttarakhand coming generation may not see the beauty of dense forest as it will not prevail forever.


1. The Forests of the Western Himalayas: The Legacy of British Colonial Administration Author(s): Richard P. TuckerVol. 26, No. 3 (Jul., 1982), pp. 112-123 Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of Forest History Society and American Society for Environmental History Stable URL:
2. State, Society and Natural Resources in Himalaya: Dynamics of Change in Colonial and Post-Colonial Uttarakhand Author(s): Shekhar Pathak Source: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 32, No. 17 (Apr. 26 – May 2, 1997), pp. 908-912 Published by: Economic and Political Weekly Stable URL: Accessed: 17-09-2017 06:24 UTC.
3. The Historical Context of Social Forestry in the Kumaon Himalayas Author(s): Richard P. Tucker Source: The Journal of Developing Areas, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Apr., 1984), pp. 341-356 Published by: College of Business, Tennessee State University Stable URL: Accessed: 17-09-2017 06:35 UTC.


Mohit Pandey


Author: Brink of Economic Thoughts

Messiness generates new thinking, new ideas and new innovation. Brink of Economic thoughts is all about the bonanza of opportunities around us, a infant steps towards a better world, with better understanding.

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