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  1. 1. Wood extraction has increased over time from the early colonial period to 1947. Three phases are clearly discernible. In the first phase, timber extraction for trade had not acquired great significance, and some submontane forests were merely being exploited. In the second phase, beginning with the establishment of the forest department in 1864 and passing of the Forest Act in 1865, state control over forests was strengthened and most of the forests were made available for exploitation. This led to the rapid growth of extraction of timber. The third phase began with the First World War when the nature of the demands made on forests was changing. These three phases are discussed individually.
  2. 2. It was the demand for sleepers and fuel by the railways that exerted constant and relentless pressure on the forests of Uttaranchal from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20 th century. The railway system was potentially significant for imperial power, hence its expansion was accorded top priority and securing wood supply for this purpose was very important. Wooden sleepers were used to lay tracks. These were preferred to metal ones because they were light and easy to work with, and were cheaper, although less durable than metal sleepers. After experiments with various timber species teak, sal and deodar were found most suitable for sleepers. Other species required creosoting for durability, which initially was not seen as being cost effective. The high price of teak confined its use only to some of the places where it was found. In the provinces along the coast, cheap imported creosoted pine sleepers from Europe were available, but transportation to the interior increased their cost. The use of indigenous sleepers was also encouraged as a defense against contingencies like the war in Europe which might have interrupted the supply of sleepers. Therefore the railways relied mainly on sal and deodar for their operation and expansion in northern India. Experiments on the cheap creosoting of various other species continued (Brandis 1878-79), but could not succeed until the 20th century.
  3. 3. The history of forestry in colonial Java has been described in some detail by Boomgaard (1988). The first European colonisers in the sixteenth and seventeenth century encountered many population centres along the north coast of Java and were compelled to trade with well developed political and economical structures. These early colonisers described large areas of teak forest (Tectona grandis) along the north coast of central and east Java. Altona (1923) estimated their total area at 1 to 1.5 million ha. The origin of teak on Java and of these forests has been much debated. Altona (1922 & 1923) presented evidence for the introduction of teak by Hindu migrants, probably as early as 200 A.D. He also proved that at least some of these extensive teak forests had been planted around 1600. To date, the debate on the origin of Javanese teak forests has not yet been completely resolved, but Boomgaard (1988) cites new evidence that supports Altona's views. If these views are indeed correct, it means that natural (lowland) forest had been replaced by teak forests at a large scale long before the start of the colonial period.
  4. 4. Around 1890, Surontiko Samin of Randublatung village, a teak forest village, questioned the state ownership of the forest resources. During the two world wars, all the working plans against the cutting of trees were abandoned and the forest department cut trees freely to meet the British war needs. 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 showing the mindless destruction of forest product.
  5. 5. The rebellion of Bastar in 1910 was caused by a combination of various factors. These included displacement, increased land rent and demands for free labour and goods. The most important reason was the attitude of the colonial government which wanted to subjugate the people and destroy their way of living by taking over their lands. In 1905, the colonial government proposed the reservation of two-thirds of the forest area and stop shifting cultivation, hunting and collection of forest produce. Those who were allowed to stay in the reserved areas had to work for the forest department. Gatherings of people took place where these issues were discussed. Gunda Dhur was an important leader during this time. Secret messages inviting the villagers to rebel were passed during this time. Bazaars were looted, houses of officials, traders, schools and police stations were burnt and robbed. All those who were attacked were associated with colonial state and its laws. The British ultimately put the rebellion down by employing heavy force. The reservations though, were temporarily suspended and the area under them was reduced to half.