Pre‐colonial and colonial forest culture in the Presidency of Bengal

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Issue: Volume 5, Issue 1, 2011

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Indian forest based culture has a long history. Until the British colonial rule (1757 -1947), Indian forest has been controlled and used by several monarchies. The features of forest based livelihoods were also quite different from one period to another. Before Muslim period, Indian forest used to be considered as an important source of resource, but exploitation was quite less compared to total forest cover. People used to admire native forest for the role it used to play. However, during Muslim and early British period (East India Company period, 1757 – 1857) forest was considered only as the source of timber. To produce farmland a considerable amount of forest cover was also destroyed. After the handover of the colonial power (1857), the British government realised the importance of forests for revenue generation and implemented several rules and regulations to control the ‘illicit’ timber felling. This forest management strategy was followed even after independence (1947) until the JFM system was implemented.

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