Dietrich Brandis was born in Bonn, Germany and worked as a lecturer of Botany. He joined the British service in 1856 as the superintendent of the teak forests in eastern Burma.
During the British Rule in India, due to the demand for trees for railways and other requirements of timber by the British, Indian forests were getting depleted. The British were particularly worried about the use of forest produce by the local people and the unregulated felling of trees by traders.
To conserve the forests, by 1864, the British felt the need of an organized Forest Department for the complete administration of the forests in India. They invited Dietrich Brandis for advice and to organize the administration of the forests in India. He was the First Inspector General of Forests of India and is also commonly known as the father of tropical forestry.
Brandis formulated new forest rules and helped establish research and training institutions. He set up the Indian Forest Service in 1864 and helped formulate the Indian Forest Act of 1865. To help spread the study of forestry, Brandis founded the Imperial Forest Research Institute at Dehra Dun in 1906. He introduced and started the practice of ‘scientific forestry’ or commercial forestry in India.
Scientific forestry is the practice of cutting down all the trees in a forest and replacing them with one single species of tree that is planted in straight rows. This planting of one type of tree in straight rows is also known as a plantation. The Indian Forest Act was enacted in 1865, and was amended twice - in 1878 and 1927.
The Forest Act Amendment of 1878 provided for the division of forests into three categories:
- Reserved forests were forests completely under reservation or the protection of the government.
- Protected forests were forests under partial protection of the government.
- Village forests were forests whose land rights were assigned by the government to a village community for its use.