NCERT Solutions for Class 9 Social Science History Chapter 4 Forest Society and Colonialism

The British administration believed that Indian farmers were causing harm to the forests through their agricultural practices. They aimed to assume control over forest cultivation and implement scientific forestry methods. Consequently, they introduced various laws to restrict the local population’s access to forest resources. However, the British themselves continued to exploit the forests for commercial gain. The Forest Society and Colonialism Chapter extensively delves into the details of this topic, providing crucial questions for exam preparation. The NCERT Solutions for Class 9 Social Science History Chapter 4 Forest Society and Colonialism have been expertly addressed by PadhaiKendra’s team, offering accurate and well-explained answers.

Question 1. Discuss how the changes in forest management in the colonial period affected the following groups of people:

(a) Shifting cultivators
(b) Nomadic and Pastoralist Communities
(c) Firms trading in timber/forest produce
(d) Plantation owners
(e) Kings/British officials engaged in shikar


Shifting cultivators: European colonists perceived shifting cultivation as detrimental to forest preservation and commercial timber forestry. The risk of uncontrolled fires that could destroy valuable timber further reinforced their concerns. Consequently, the colonial government imposed a ban on shifting cultivation, resulting in the loss of livelihood for many cultivators and the displacement of numerous forest-dwelling communities.

Nomadic and pastoralist communities: Communities like the Korava, Karacha, and Yerukula from the Madras Presidency faced severe hardships as their traditional ways of life were disrupted. Branded as “criminal tribes” by the British authorities, they were coerced into working in government-supervised factories, mines, and plantations, stripping them of their traditional livelihoods.

Timber trading firms: British authorities granted exclusive trading rights in forest products to European timber trading firms in specific regions. Local populations were legally restricted from grazing and hunting activities, curtailing their access to forest resources.

Plantation owners: Extensive natural forests were cleared to make room for lucrative tea, coffee, and rubber plantations, driven by the demand for these commodities in Europe. European plantation owners acquired land at low prices and transformed forested areas into plantations, leading to the displacement and removal of forests.

Royalty and British officials engaged in hunting: Forest laws deprived forest dwellers of their traditional means of sustenance, particularly through hunting. While forest dwellers were forbidden from hunting, hunting became a recreational activity for kings and British officials, resulting in the widespread hunting of large game and pushing some species to the brink of extinction.

Question 2. What are the similarities between the colonial management of the forests in Bastar and in Java?


The similarities between the colonial management of forests in Bastar and Java can be summarized as follows:

British and Dutch Control: Both Bastar and Java were under the colonial rule of the British and Dutch respectively, indicating foreign dominance over forest management.

Forest Laws: Both colonial powers enacted their own versions of forest laws, granting themselves complete control over the forests. These laws often disregarded the customary rights and traditional practices of the local forest dwellers.

Prohibition on Shifting Cultivation: Both the British and Dutch administrations implemented a ban on shifting cultivation in the forests of Bastar and Java. They viewed this practice as detrimental to forest conservation and sought to curtail it.

Labor Contributions: In both regions, the local villagers were coerced into providing labor to the forest departments. In Bastar, the villagers had to provide unpaid labor, while in Java, villages offering free labor were exempted from paying taxes.

Commercial Exploitation: The British and Dutch utilized the forest resources for commercial purposes. They had a particular interest in timber, which was needed for various purposes such as railway sleepers.

Both Bastar and Java experienced similar patterns of colonial forest management characterized by control, forest laws, labor contributions, and commercial exploitation by the British and Dutch authorities.

Question 3. Between 1880 and 1920, the forest cover in the Indian subcontinent declined by 9.7 million hectares,
from 108.6 million hectares to 98.9 million hectares. Discuss the role of the following factors in this

(i) Railways
(ii) Shipbuilding
(iii) Agricultural expansion
(iv) Commercial farming
(v) Tea/Coffee plantations
(vi) Adivasis and other peasant users



Railways played a crucial role in trade and colonial control, requiring wood for sleepers to support the tracks. The extensive use of sleepers, ranging from 1760 to 2000 per kilometer of track, led to the clearing of vast forest areas to meet the demand for railway materials.

Ship Building

Before the industrial revolution, wooden ships were vital for maritime operations, especially for the Royal Navy. To sustain its fleet, England’s oak forests were extensively cleared. This posed a challenge as a continuous supply of timber was necessary to build and maintain ships, resulting in the exploitation and deforestation of colonial forests.

Agricultural Expansion

Rising populations and increased food demand led to the clearance of forests for agricultural purposes. Colonial authorities believed that clearing forests would enhance food production. Forests were considered unproductive, making them prime targets for large-scale deforestation. Between 1880 and 1920, agricultural land expanded by 6.7 million hectares, contributing significantly to deforestation.

Commercial Farming of Trees

Commercial farming practices focused on specific tree species, resulting in the loss of diverse flora during forest clearance. The emphasis on commercial plantations meant that many tree species were lost as forests were transformed into monoculture plantations.

Tea/Coffee Plantations

To meet the growing demand for tea and coffee, colonial authorities sold vast forested areas to European plantation firms. These firms cleared the forests to establish tea and coffee plantations, leading to the loss of extensive forest land.

Adivasis and Other Peasant Users

Adivasi and other peasant communities practiced shifting cultivation, involving cutting down parts of the forest, burning tree roots, and sowing seeds in the cleared patches. However, this practice contributed to deforestation and reduced soil fertility over time, limiting the regrowth of trees in the affected areas.

Question 4. Why are forests affected by wars?


Forests are significantly impacted by wars due to their strategic value. Various battlefield assets, including towers, guard posts, and army camps, are constructed using wood for their ease of maintenance and the ability to dismantle them if necessary. Additionally, a scorched earth policy may be implemented to deny areas and resources to the enemy, which often involves setting forests on fire.

An example of this occurred during World War II when the Japanese invaded the Dutch colony in Indonesia. In anticipation of the Japanese invasion, the Dutch resorted to burning vast forested areas to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. However, once the Japanese gained control, they exploited the timber forests indiscriminately to meet their own war demands. This reckless exploitation had severe long-term negative effects on the local ecology, which persisted for decades to come.

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