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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: October 2011



The management of the natural resources is important for the welfare of any country. In particularly agrarian societies, natural resources like land, water and forests played a significant role. Of late, the environmental degradation and destruction of natural resources like forests have attracted the attention of the scholars across the globe. The scarcity of the natural resources worldwide, which generated many conflicts in recent decades, has affected the quality of human life as well as the natural environment. This deterioration is not a recent phenomenon. It is a process evolved in history: in the forest policies and the economies that generated such policies. The study of these aspects is called environmental history, ‘whose principal goal has become one of deepening our understanding of how humans have been affected by their natural environment through time, and, conversely, how they have affected the environment and with what result’.

In India too, whose economy is predominantly agrarian, people are dependent on its natural resources for their livelihood and sustenance. The management and utilization of natural resources like forests, land and water is crucial if viewed from the historical perspective. It has been observed by the historians that from nineteenth century onwards the management of natural resources have been increasingly brought under the control of the State. Though the government intervention was not unknown in the pre-British period, the major difference between the pre-British times and British period lies in the scale and magnitude of this intervention and the everlasting impact it has had on the society.