Check sibling questions

Why Deforestation?

  • The disappearance of forests is referred to as deforestation.

  • The process began many centuries ago, but under colonial rule, it became more systematic and extensive.

Land to be Improved

  • In 1600, approximately one-sixth of India’s landmass was under cultivation.

  • As the population increased over the centuries and the demand for food went up, peasants extended the boundaries of cultivation, clearing forests, and breaking new land.

  • In the colonial period, cultivation expanded rapidly for a variety of reasons.

  • First, the British directly encouraged the production of commercial crops like jute, sugar, wheat, and cotton.

  • Second, in the early nineteenth century, the colonial state thought that forests were unproductive . They were considered to be wilderness that had to be brought under cultivation so that the land could yield agricultural products and revenue, and enhance the income of the state.

Sleepers on the Tracks

  • By the early nineteenth century, oak forests in England were disappearing.

  • By the 1820s, search parties were sent to explore the forest resources of India.

  • The spread of railways in the 1850s created a new demand.

  • Railways were essential for colonial trade and for the movement of imperial troops.

  • From the 1860s, the railway network expanded rapidly.

  • By 1890, about 25,500 km of track had been laid.

  • In 1946, the length of the tracks had increased to over 765,000 km.

  • As the railway's tracks spread through India, a larger and larger number of trees were felled.

  • As early as the 1850s, in the Madras Presidency alone, 35,000 trees were being cut annually for sleepers.

  • Forests around the railway tracks fast started disappearing.


  • Large areas of natural forests were also cleared to make way for tea, coffee, and rubber plantations to meet Europe’s growing need for these commodities.

  • The colonial government took over the forests and gave vast areas to European planters at cheap rates.

  • These areas were enclosed and cleared of forests, and planted with tea or coffee.

Learn in your speed, with individual attention - Teachoo Maths 1-on-1 Class

Ask a doubt
Davneet Singh's photo - Co-founder, Teachoo

Made by

Davneet Singh

Davneet Singh has done his B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has been teaching from the past 13 years. He provides courses for Maths, Science, Social Science, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science at Teachoo.