0 votes
in History by (29.8k points)

Between 1880 and 1920, forest cover in the Indian subcontinent declined by 9.7 million hectares, from 108.6 million hectares to 98.9 million hectares. Discuss the role of the following factors in this decline: 

 Railways

 Shipbuilding 

 Agricultural expansion 

 Commercial farming 

 Tea/Coffee plantations 

 Adivasis and other peasant users

1 Answer

0 votes
by (128k points)
selected by
Best answer


There was huge demand of sleepers from the railways. In those days sleepers were made from wood. Expansion of the railway network resulted in large scale deforestation. 


Shipbuilding was an important industry because ships were integral part of the military power of the British. When the number of oak trees sharply reduced in Britain, Indian forests provided good source of supply. Thus, shipbuilding also contributed towards large scale deforestation in India.

Agricultural expansion 

The growing European population meant an increased demand for food grains. This resulted in expansion of cultivated land in India. More land was cleared of forests to make way for cultivation. 

Commercial farming 

There was increased demand for various raw materials; like cotton, indigo for the expanding industries in Britain. This resulted in large scale commercial farming in India. This could also become possible by clearing forests 

Tea/Coffee plantations 

Demand for tea and coffee also increased in Britain. The climate of northeastern India and the eastern coast was perfect for plantations. Large areas of forests were cleared for making way for plantations. The British plantation owners were given land on very cheap rates. 

Adivasis and other peasant users 

Adivasis had always been the protectors of forests and hence they had no role in deforestation. However, some peasants may have utilised the opportunity to expand the cultivated land; as had happened in Java. Moreover, the significant increase in cultivated land also indicates towards clearing of forests for farming.

Welcome to Sarthaks eConnect: A unique platform where students can interact with teachers/experts/students to get solutions to their queries. Students (upto class 10+2) preparing for All Government Exams, CBSE Board Exam, ICSE Board Exam, State Board Exam, JEE (Mains+Advance) and NEET can ask questions from any subject and get quick answers by subject teachers/ experts/mentors/students.