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The British Association: Section E—Geography


    The Indian Forest School, by Major F. Bailey, F.R.G.S., Royal Engineers, Director of the School.—It is only within the last twenty-five years that a special State department has administered the Indian forests. The staff was at first composed of men who had received no professional education, but they were able to do all that was then needed, and they accomplished work of great value. But as a result of their work the State became possessed of large forest areas, from which a permanent supply of produce had to be secured, and which had therefore to be managed systematically. At this time nothing was known of systematic forestry in England or in India, and an arrangement was made in 1866 under which candidates for the Indian Forest Service were trained on the Continent. The arrangement with the French Government is still in force, but it has now been decided to undertake the instruction in England. Great progress has been made in Indian forestry, which is mainly due to the professionally-trained men with whom the Forest Department has been recruited, but up to 1869 nothing bad been done towards the education of the subordinate ranks. As work requiring professional skill became necessary over large areas, it was found that the “divisions” must be broken up into a number of smaller executive charges under natives of the country, and that they must receive a professional education. In 1869 Mr. Brandis made proposals to organise the subordinate grades and to train men at the Civil Engineering Colleges, and several other attempts were made in the same direction, but without marked success. In 1878 Mr, Brandis proposed to establish a Central Forest School, and his proposals were accepted by Government. The chief object of the School was then to prepare natives of India for the executive charge of forest ranges, and to qualify them for promotion to the superior staff, but it was hoped that the school might ultimately be used to train candidates for the controlling branch. The chief forest officers of provinces [were to select candidates and send them to be trained at the School. None but natives of India were to be admitted. A number of forests near Dehre Dun were grouped together as a training ground and placed under a separate conservator, who was also appointed director of the school. A board of inspection was appointed. The first theoretical course was held in 1881, and they have been held every year since then. The present system is that the candidates, who must be in robust health, are selected by conservators of the forest or by the director of the school. They must serve in the forests for at least twelve months before entering the School. Candidates for the ranger's certificate must have passed the entrance examination of an Indian University on the English side; candidates for the forester's certificate pass a lower examination. The course of training for these two classes extends over eighteen and twelve months respectively. Men who gain the certificates return to their provinces, and are employed there. The course of instruction for the ranger's class embraces vegetable physiology, the elements of physics and chemistry, mathematics, road making and building, surveying, sylviculture, working plans, forest utilisation, forest botany, the elements of mineralogy and geology, forest law, and the elements of forest etiology. The course for foresters is much more simple. The preparation of manuals is in progress, and a library, museum, chemical laboratory, observatory, and forest garden have been established. The period of probation in the forest before entry into the School has a twofold object: firstly, to enable the theoretical course to be understood; secondly, to eliminate men who are unsuited to a forest life before time and money have been spent on their training. As a rule, the students are employes of the Forest Department, and they draw their salaries and maintain themselves while at the School. No instruction fees are charged. It would not at present be possible to get condidates whose maintenance and education are entirely paid for by their friends. Nine men who have left the School have appointments of from 125l. to 200l. a year, and this ought to draw eligible candidates. Conservators of forests say that the men trained at the School are markedly superior to their untrained comrades. The area of reserved forests has largely increased of late, and the prospects of the students are very good. During the session of 1884 there were fofty-six students of all classes at the School, of whom eight were from Madras, and seven from native States, the chiefs of which have been induced by the establishment of the school to take measures for the protection of their forests. The School has now been made an imperial institution, and this is a great advantage in every way. The expenses of the School in 1884 are said to have been 1911.

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