Friday, 30 December 2011

Some on-line sources on Indian forest/ forestry history

Just a few links I have been coming across to some of the old classics on Indian forestry, especially during the 19th century. More and more primary material is coming on-line! My own version of how this fits together with a broader history of plant ecology and vegetation classification can be found as Chapter 2 in Asouti & Fuller Trees and Woodlands in South India (2008 US edition; 2010 Indian edition).

Hugh Cleghorn's Forest's and Gardens of South India (1861) is available from google ebooks or the internet archive. As it's title even implies this book does not make an idealistic distinction between natural forests and human used/managed woods, but treats both together under subjects like shifting cultivation firewood and charcoal production, and teak plantations although it was not conceived and written as coherent book but collects various shorter reports and letters as well as appendices of 19th century forest rules, etc. Cleghorn's discussion of shifting cultivation (kumri) drew upon the earlier descriptions from Buchanan's 1807 Journey  from Madras through the countries of Mysore, Canara and Malabar also available for download. (For a longterm perspective on shifting cultivation in India, see the recent article with my student Ellie Kingwell-Banham for Quaternary International.)

Deitrich Brandis' Illustrations for the Flora of North-west and Central India (1874 London) includes about 70 illustrations [on-line or as PDF]

Cleghorn and Brandis were the foresters who first established forest conservation guidelines for British India which in turn were fairly influential on conservation approaches throughout the empire on the development of forestry as a scientific discipline. See this web article on the colonial origins scientific forestry.

VS Rao's (1961) history 100 Years of Indian Forestry is free on the Internet Archive.

JD Hooker's (1855) Introductory essay on Flora indica which includes the first real overview of climatic and vegetation zones in the subcontinent.

Some more classic sources of Indian botanical illustrations that are available digitally:
Hortus malabaricus.

Wight's Icones plantae Indiae oreintalis.  Wight's illustrations of Indian Botany

William Roxburgh's Plants of the Coromabdel Coast

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