Forests form an important part of our ecosystem and are beneficial to us in various ways. The process of clearing of forests by removing trees through logging or burning is called deforestation. Major deforestation in India occurred during the British rule, between the years 1880 and 1920.
The British grew many cash crops in India, like indigo, cotton, jute and sugar, to increase revenue. As the demand for these products increased, the need for land also increased. The net result was that forests were cleared for cultivation.
Large amounts of timber from Sal and teak forests were exported to build the large and magnificent ships of the Royal Navy of England.
With the advent of railways, wood was needed as fuel to run locomotives and also to lay sleepers under railway lines.
Tea and coffee plantations were grown to meet Europe’s growing need. The Adivasis and the peasants were also largely responsible for the depletion of forests due to their dependence on them for fodder, leaves and fuel. They followed slash and burn and shifting cultivation, which led to deforestation and degradation of the land.
Global warming is just one of the several harmful impacts of deforestation. In addition to this, the water cycle gets disturbed, soil erodes, and several species of plants and animals get extinct. It also has an impact on the native dwellers of forests as they become homeless.