Forestry research is a niche segment in India and has yet to find a deserving place as a science. Many universities/premier institutes haven't realized its potential and, therefore, are not keen to offer courses on it. This book is an effort to highlight the importance of the topic and thus presents a detailed study, critical analyses, strengths and weaknesses of forestry research in India since its inception towards the end of the nineteenth century.
It very clearly analyses and summarizes relevant issues enabling readers understand approaches adopted, their failures and successes, and provides main conclusions. Based on such detailed critical analyses, it identifies major issues and gives suggestions for improvement and future direction. Strong and appropriate forestry research support is critical to realize the potential of forests of our country to mitigate climate-change effects, conservation of biodiversity, support sustainable agriculture through climate amelioration and perpetual supply of water for irrigation to ensure food security for the country, alleviation of poverty of tribals and other forest-dependent communities and to provide a number of goods and services needed for economic development of the country.
The book provides suggestions for strengthening and reorientation of forestry research in the country. First of its kind on the subject, this book should generate keen interest on forestry research among the policy-makers, educators and even to the intellectuals and students involved in forestry studies and services.
R.V. Singh, M.sc. (Agronomy), PhD retired as Director General, Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education. As a member of Indian Forest Service, he served in different capacities in the forest service and also as Professor of Forestry, H.P. University; Coordinator, Conifer Research Centre, Shimla; and President, Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun. He has a long stint of forestry research both in states and in Government of India. After retirement, he has been working as a forestry consultant. He has a number of forestry-related publications to his credit including seven books and more than 100 technical papers.
India has rich, diverse and extensive forests which play an important role in soil and water conservation particularly in mountainous areas, environmental conservation, support for sustained agricultural production especially in tropical and subtropical regions through their effect on the moderation of the microclimate and the supply of water for irrigation, meeting the basic needs of forest-dependent communities for fuel wood and fodder, mitigating climate change related effects, and providing medicinal plants for home remedies necessary for health security of the people living in and around the forests. Conservation, development and sustainable management of forests are thus very important for the national economy.
Forest conservancy measures in the country were initiated in the middle of the nineteenth century and consequently, a need was felt for starting forestry training and research. The Forest School at Dehra Dun was started in W78 in which some research work was also initiated. The Imperial Forest Research Institute (IFRI) was established in 1906 at Dehra Dun which was renamed as the Forest Research Institute (FRI) after Independence. It was soon realized that this institute was not sufficient to meet research requirements of the whole country and it was decided in 1918 to undertake silvicultural research in the provinces (called states after Independence) also and provincial research organizations were accordingly established. The forests in the country were initially managed by the Government of India (central government) and the research institute at Dehra Dun was kept under its control. Even after the transfer of responsibility for forest management to the provinces in 1935, the position in respect of the control of forestry research did not change. Delineation of forestry research responsibilities between the states and the central government remained unclear and it turned out to be an important factor for low research output in the country. While research facilities under the central government were expanded, the same in the states remained very weak and utterly inadequate. Forestry research both under the central government and in the states remained under government control devoid of required functional autonomy. Realizing the inadequacy of reseatcl1 facilities in meeting emerging requirements, the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (lCFRE) was established in 1986 which has nine research institutes and three research centres located in different parts of the country. The research facilities in the country are still inadequate for providing the necessary support for conservation and sustainable management of the forest resources and require considerable strengthening and improvement.
I have been associated with forestry research in the states as well as under the central government in various capacities such as silviculturist, Himachal Pradesh, Professor of Forestry in Himachal Pradesh University, Coordinator Conifer Research Centre at Shimla, President, Forest Research Institute and Director General, Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education. Working in these different positions provided me with an opportunity of understanding the strengths and weaknesses of forestry research in the country.
Several expert committees/panels/commissions studied the status of forestry research under the central government, but no studies were conducted in respect of the state research organizations. The studies conducted, however, remained limited mainly to the infra structural facilities, implementation of research programmes and service conditions of the research personnel and did not analyse in sufficient detail the issues responsible for low research outputs. Unfortunately, most of the recommendations made by these committees/panels were not implemented. An attempt has been made in this book to present relevant developments in forestry research through the entire period spanning over more than a century together with important lessons learned and, based on them, to make suggestions for improvement which are expected to be useful not only for India but also for other similarly placed developing countries.
My wife, Shashikala, deserves my special thanks for her constant support and encouragement in writing this book. I express my deep gratitude to Prof. J.C. Nautiyal for having invested considerable time in going through the manuscript and for making very valuable suggestions and corrections. He was a constant source of inspiration and encouragement for me in writing this book. I am extremely grateful to Prof. Klaus Seeland for going through the manuscript and making valuable suggestions for its improvement. I express my thanks to Mr Shailendra Kaushik, Chief Librarian, National Forest Library and Information Centre, New Forest, Dehra Dun for his help in providing access to library facilities. The financial support provided by the ETH Research Fund of the late Prof. Schmithusen for publishing the book is gratefully acknowledged.
Forests were seen as source of important resources from the earliest times in Indian history. Not only were they the places for study and research in the gurukul system of Vedic times but provided fuel and other sustenance for society. The value of forests for maintaining the water-cycle was understood even in the times of Mahabharata. In the times of Vishnugupta Chanakya (fourth century BCE) they were an important source of providing war elephants and the Maurya Empire had a Superintendent of Forests to ensure the supplies from forests. Unfortunately, the understanding of the value of forests for society seems to have gradually eroded and when exploitation appeared to reach alarming proportions in the middle of the nineteenth century the rulers realized the need for conservation. As a result, forest management, as understood in Europe at the time, made its beginnings in India and soon the need for research in forest science became apparent.
More than a century has passed since initial attempts at solving forest management problems were made in India by the British government, and the Imperial Forest Research Institute was established in 1906. The scene today, in the twenty- first century is quite different, but, sadly, research in forestry has not been able to keep pace with the problems as they have evolved.
This book by a modern forester, concerned about research in Indian forestry, gives a detailed historical account of what has been tried and achieved during more than a century, along with lessons learned and suggestions for future direction. The author, Dr Ranvir Singh, who has an illustrious record in the Indian Forest Service, is well qualified to put his finger on the most sensitive issues involved in forestry research in India. He has been the Director of the Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun, and the Director General of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education. He rightly points out that one of the serious shortcomings of Indian forestry research is the seeming inadequacy of coordination between the researchers and the foresters. The research organizations as well as the Indian Forest Service must find a solution to this issue to realize the full potential of forests in future when the country will undoubtedly occupy a very important place in the comity of nations. Without addressing the problems plaguing forestry research and without freeing research from the clutches of bureaucratic gymnastics, the forest service may fail to justify its important role in contributing to the welfare of the people in India.
Those interested in forestry in India will find this book very helpful and, hopefully, will encourage the Government of India and particularly the Indian Forest Service, in finding ways of bringing forestry research to the level that agricultural research has arrived at in India.
Your email address will not be published *
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend