‘Forest Society and Colonialism’ Chapter Notes Class 9 History

‘Forest Society and Colonialism’ Chapter Notes Class 9 History: This article provides here notes based on the ‘Forest Society and Colonialism’ a chapter in class 9 NCERT History syllabus. Click here for more study materials on Class 9 Social Science

Notes: Forest Society and Colonialism

1. Things that Come from Forests

(i) The paper in the book you are reading.

(ii) Desks and tables, doors and windows.

(iii) The dyes that colour your clothes, spices in your food, the cellophane wrapper of your toffee.

(iv) Tendu leaves in bidis, gum, honey, coffee, tea, and rubber.

(v) The oil in chocolates which comes from the sal seeds, the tannin used to convert skins and hides into leather.

(vi) Herbs and roots for medicinal purposes.

(vii) Forests also provide bamboo, wood for fuel, grass, charcoal, packaging, fruits, and flowers.

2. Why Deforestation?

(i) As population increased, the demand for food went up. Peasants extended the boundaries for cultivation, clearing forests and breaking new land.

(ii) In colonial India, the British encouraged the production of commercial crops like jute, sugar, wheat, and cotton for the growing urban population and as raw material for industries.

(iii) The British considered the forests unproductive and had to be brought under cultivation to yield agricultural products and revenue.

(iv) Sleepers for building railway tracks created demand for wood, which led to deforestation.

(v) Wood was needed as fuel to run railways.

(vi) When oak forests disappeared in England, it created a problem of timber supply for building ships for the Royal Navy. So, to fulfil the demand, trees were felled in India on a massive scale.

(vii) Large forest areas were also cleared to make way for plantations of tea, coffee, and rubber.

(viii) Large areas were enclosed and cleared of forests and then planted with tea or coffee.

3. The Rise of Commercial Forestry

(i) The British were worried that the use of forests by forest people and reckless felling of trees by traders would destroy forests.

(ii) They invited Dietrich Brandis for advice and made him the first Inspector General of Forests in India.

(iii) Brandis set up the Indian Forest Service in 1864 and helped formulate the Indian Forest Act of 1865.

4. Scientific Forestry

It was introduced, in which natural forests that had different types of trees were cut down, and in their place, one type of trees were planted in straight rows. This was called a plantation. A fixed number of trees were cut and replanted so they could be cut after some years.

(i) According to the Forest Act, forests were divided into three categories, reserved, protected, and village forests.

  • Reserved Forests: The best forests were called reserve forests.
    • Villagers could not take anything from these forests ever for their own use.
    • For house building or fuel, they could take wood from protected or village forests.

5. How were the Lives of the People Affected?

(i) The Forest Act meant extreme hardship for villagers and forest people across the country.

(ii) The villagers were not allowed to cut wood for their houses or graze their cattle.

(iii) They were not allowed to collect fruits and roots or hunt animals. Fishing was not allowed. All these activities were considered illegal.

(iv) They could not get fodder for their animals.

(v) The villagers were forced to steal, and if caught, they were at the mercy of the forest guards.

(vi) Women who collected fuelwood were harassed by the guards who demanded free food from them.

6. How did Forest Rules Affect Cultivation?

(i) Shifting cultivation or Swidden agriculture was banned by Europeans.

(ii) Europeans considered it harmful to the forests because, in it, forests were cut and burnt, and valuable timber was lost.

(iii) Many communities were displaced from the forests.

7. Who could Hunt?

(i) The forest laws deprived the forest people of their customary rights to hunt deer, partridges, etc.

(ii) In India, hunting of tigers and other animals had been part of the culture of the court and nobility.

(iii) Under colonial rule, the scale of hunting increased so much that various species became nearly extinct.

(iv) The British saw large animals as signs of a wild, primitive, and savage society. They believed that by killing dangerous animals, they would civilize India.

(v) They gave rewards for killing tigers, wolves, etc on the grounds that they posed a threat to cultivators.

(vi) Over 80,000 tigers, 1,50,000 leopards, and 2,00,000 wolves were killed for reward during 1875-1925.

(vii) The Maharaja of Sarguja alone shot 1,157 tigers and 2,000 leopards.

(viii) George Yule killed 400 tigers.

8. New Trades, New Employment, and New Services

(i) After the Forest Act was implemented, a large number of forest people were displaced.

(ii) Many communities left traditional occupations and started trading in forest products.

(iii) Many nomadic tribes like the Korava, Karacha, etc lost their livelihoods and came to be called criminal tribes and were forced to work in factories, mines, and plantations under government supervision.

(iv) The wages were low, and conditions of work very bad. Also, they could not return to their villages easily.

Case of Bastar Rbellion

9. Rebellion in the Forest

(i) Many communities of the Bastar region like the Maria and Maria Gonds, Dhurwas, Bhatras, etc spoke different languages but had common cultures customs and beliefs.

(ii) The people of Bastar believed that each village was given land by the Earth and, in return, they look after the Earth by making offerings at each agricultural festival, respect the spirits of the rivers, the forests, and the mountains. If they wanted to take anything from the forest of another village, they paid a small fee called devsari, dand or man in exchange.

10. The Fear of the People

(i) The Forest Act proposed to reserve two-thirds of the forests in 1905.

(ii) Shifting cultivation was to be banned.

(iii) Hunting and the collection of forest produce by villagers were to be stopped.

(iv) Forest people were allowed to stay on in the reserved forests on the condition they would do free labour for the colonial-officials and help the forest department in cutting and transporting trees and protecting the forest from fire.

(v) Reservation of two-third forests led to dissatisfaction and discontent among the people.

(vi) The Dhurvas of Kanger forest under Gunda Dhur started a movement against the colonial government where reservation first took place.

(vii) The villagers rebelled and looted the houses of officials and traders, schools and police stations were burnt, and the grain was redistributed.

11. Suppression of the Rebellion

(i) The British sent troops to suppress the rebellion.

(ii) The British surrounded the camps and fired upon the rebels.

(iii) The British flogged and punished those people who had taken part in the rebellion.

(iv) People deserted the villages and fled into the jungles.

12. Forest Transformations in Java

(i) Java in the Dutch East Indies was once upon a time covered with forests.

(ii) It was ruled by the Dutch.

(iii) They started forest management and like the British, they wanted timber from Java.

(iv) The Kalangs of Java were a community of skilled forest

cutters and shifting cultivators.

(v) When the Dutch began to control the forests in the 18th century, they tried to make the Kalangs work under them. The Kalangs resisted but were suppressed.

Case of Java Rebellion

13. Dutch Scientific Forestry

(i) In the nineteenth century, the Dutch enacted forest laws in Java restricting villagers’ access to forests.

(ii) Now wood could be cut only for specified purposes like making river boats or constructing houses from specific forests under close supervision.

(iii) Villagers were punished for grazing cattle in new forests, for transporting wood without a permit, or traveling on forest roads with horse carts or cattle.

14. Demand for Wood

(i) As in India, the Dutch also needed wood for the construction of railway tracks and for shipbuilding.

(ii) The Dutch imposed rents on land being cultivated in the forest.

(iii) Some villages were exempted from these rents if they worked collectively to provide free labour and buffaloes for cutting and transporting timber. This was known as blandongoliensten system. Later, instead of rent exemption. Forest villagers were given small wages, but their right to cultivation forest land was restricted.

15. Samin’s Challenge

(i) Around 1890, Surontiko Samin of Randublatung village, began questioning the state ownership of the forests.

(ii) He argued that the state had not created the wind, Earth, and wood, so it could not own it.

(iii) Soon a widespread movement developed. Saminists protested by lying down on their lands when the Dutch came to survey it, while others refused to pay taxes or fines or perform labour.

16. War and Deforestation

(i) The First World War and the Second World War had a major impact on forests.

(ii) In India, the forest department cut trees freely to meet British war needs.

(iii) In Java, just before the Japanese occupation of this region, the Dutch followed the Scorched Earth Policy i.e., destroying sawmills and burning huge piles of giant teak logs so that they would not fall into Japanese hands.

(iv) The Japanese then recklessly exploited the forests for their needs, forcing villagers to cut the trees.

(v) Many villagers expanded cultivation in the forests.

(vi) There was great destruction of forests.

New Developments in Forestry

(i) Since the 1980s, the governments across Asia and Africa began to see that scientific forestry and keeping the forest people away from forests had resulted in many conflicts.

(ii) Conservation of forests rather than collecting timber has now become a more important goal.

(iii) The government realized that for the conservation of forests the people living near the forests must be involved.

(iv) In many cases in India from Mizoram to Kerala, dense forests have survived only because these people protected them in the form of sacred groves known as sarnas, kan, rai, etc.

(v) Some villagers patrol the forests themselves by taking turns.

(vi) Local forest communities and environmentalists are thinking of new and different forms of forest management.

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