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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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ARTICLE
Year : 2005  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 110-133

Commercialisation of Forests, Timber Extraction and Deforestation in Uttaranchal, 1815-1947


Department of History, Himachal Pradesh University, Summerhill, Shimla-171 005, India

Correspondence Address:
Dhirendra Datt Dangwal
Department of History, Himachal Pradesh University, Summerhill, Shimla-171 005
India
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This article discusses the process of deforestation during the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century in Uttaranchal. Deforestation in this article is not only identified in terms of the declining vegetational cover but also as extracting more wood than the regenerative capacity of forests. Unsustainable extraction of forest resources does not directly lead to denudation, but to a slow degradation not likely to be apparent until a long time. Thus deforestation has also been linked to the production of wood - a connection which has not yet been carefully analysed by scholars. An analysis of wood production will not only help in historicising the process of deforestation but also in identifying various factors responsible for it. We have analysed in three phases, the extent of wood extraction, which intensified since the late nineteenth century. An attempt has been made to study the changing nature of demand for forest produce. We have discussed how new demands emerged and thereby increased the pressure on forests. Also discussed is the argument that the forest department's management of reserved forests was far from sustainable. The felling prescriptions of the Working Plans, based on questionable data, were frequently violated by foresters for economic exigencies. The result was degradation and denudation of timberlands.


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