Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Sir Dietrich Brandis, pioneer in Forest Management, British India

 India is one among the  ten most forest-rich countries in the world like the US, Canada, Russia, China, Congo, etc and they account for more than 60% of total  forest cover. India's annual forest growth is just 0.46% per year between 2000 to 2010. In India forestry is an important rural  industry and a major environmental resource. Non-wood  forest products such as resins, gums, aromatic chemicals, fragrances, latex, essential, oil, etc account for 50% of the revenue. The major commercial operation in the wooded areas is carried out by the lumber industries. In the last one and half decades the management of forest is beset with problems like poaching of endangered wild life, illegal wood cutting, etc. Yet another problem that needs serious attention is forest degradation, loss of soil and landslides in the monsoon season.
Sir Dietrich Brandis,/en.wikipedia.org
Dalbergia sissoo  Forest Flora of NW and Central India"en.wikipedia.org
Following the establishment of the  Imperial Forest Department in India in 1864, British Crown's  monopoly over Indian forests  had gained a firm grip with the introduction of the Indian Forest Act of 1865 and this gave them free access to India's vast forest resources and  the government’s claims over forests. The British colonial administration introduced  a further far-reaching Forest Act of 1878,  and this  helped them acquire  the sovereignty of all wastelands which in its definition included all forests. Adivasis, hill tribes and hill farmers were very much affected by this act. They were denied  access to reserved forest lands (highly lucrative lands). Their condition became precarious.
forest-resources India. Day Today GK
Sir Dietrich Brandis, KCIE, FRS (31 March 1824 - 28 May 1907), a German-British Botanist and forestry academic and administrator is considered the father of tropical forestry and of scientific forestry. Joined the British civil service in Burma in 1856,
he was with  the British Imperial Forestry Service in colonial India for nearly 30 long  years and made a valuable contribution to Indian forestry. He later  served as Inspector General of Forests in India from 1864 to 1883. Even after retirement and his return to Europe in 1883, he divided his time between Bonn and Greater London and devoted  much of his time to scholarly work, resulting in his monumental book Indian Trees (1906).  Besides his work in India, he  had made a mark  on forestry management of the United States.

Born in Bonn, Germany,  his father  Christian August Brandis was a well-known  philosopher  and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bonn. His grandfather Joachim Dietrich Brandis happened to be personal physician to Queen Marie of Denmark and Norway and a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. Educated at  the universities of Copenhagen, Göttingen, Nancy and Bonn.  As early as in 1849 he  developed keen interest in  forest management, a rare field not well researched before. He started out as a  lecturer in Botany at Bonn.
British Colonial India .SlideShare
It was in 1854, he married Rachel Marshman,  sister of General Havelock's wife. Havelock was a close friend of Lord Dalhousie of BEI company and this high connection made him go to Burma / India to take up a job.  Upon his wife  death in India in 1862, during  a two-year sojourn in Europe 1865–1867, Brandis  met and married  one Katharina Hasse, eighteen years his junior. She moved  over to India with him and the couple had six children.

During the early colonial period, the administrators realized the potential in unexplored Indian forests  and at that time the felling of tree was not regulated, leading to the loss of forest in mid 1850s. Based on
the report  by  a committee formed by the British Association in Edinburgh to study forest destruction,  Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India in a memorandum (1855)  stressed the need for effective management of India's forests.  Brandis in 1858 became head of the imperial forest administration of all of British Burma soon after joining the  British civil service in 1856, He, in a smart move, reduced the militancy of Karen tribal community in Burma by introducing the "taungya" system. The villagers were given the job of clearing, planting and weeding teak plantations and in return they were allowed to plant crops for the first few years between the trees. As the teak trees grew big enough, the villagers were moved over to a new land. This way they could cover more lands without affecting the livilihood of the tribal, hill community.Consequently the tribes were dependent on the state forestry and local resistance to forest take over  by the British slowly declined.

Circumstances forced Brandis to undertake the botanical study of the  forest trees, plants, etc. He did a major study on the teak wood plantation - total production, growth rate, pest- fire control, timber purchase, clearing rules, conservation, etc. From 1864 for 20 years, he was the Inspector General of Forests in India, and during this period he introduced  new forest legislation and helped establish research and training institutions. Brandis was the founder of The Imperial Forest School at Dehradun. it is the most popular forest institution in India now. He became a Knight Commander  in 1887.
Brandis founded Forest Research Institute (FRI) Dehradun..trawell.in/
During his long tenure in India, Brandis  was active and traveled widely to undertake scientific study of unexplored forest areas. His work took him to document the sacred groves in Rajputana and Kans (woodlands) of Mysore, the Garo and Khasia hills (1879), the Devarakadus of Coorg in 1868, and the hill ranges of the Salem district in the Madras Presidency in 1882, the Swami Shola on the Yelagiris, the sacred grove at Pudur on the Javadis and several sacred forests on the Shevaroys of Tamil Nadu. He was instrumental in protecting forest resources and flora through links with the local people. He also focused on the the forest flora of northwest and central India and Indian trees  and their growth patterns.. His main work  on Indian forestry after retirement dealt with 4400 species of Indian Trees, etc. First published in 1906 his book is still being referred to for research work by the scholars. In the last phase of his job, he became  the  principal of forester training institute  at Balaghat in M.P. 

After retirement, he spent much of his time on his monumental work on Indian trees (1906).  From 1888 to 1896)  he supervised training of forestry students at the Royal Indian Engineering College in England. Besides, he was also involved in forestry education in England at Coopers' Hill. He took keen interest in matters related to American forest and for which he received a personal letter of thanks by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. Brandis' professional advice on management of forests was given serious consideration in the US and had a good impact on the
introduction of  professional forest management  and on how to structure the Forest Service (founded in 1905).

After his retirement  in 1883, he came back to England and  from 1900 until 1906, he lived permanently in Kew in Greater London. Upon his return to Bonn in late 1906, he was hospitalized and died few months later.