Ecologies of the colonial present: Pathological forestry from the taux de boisement to civilized plantations
The Indian government has set a target of bringing approximately one-third of its land area under forest cover. For example, a recent policy, the National Mission for a Green India seeks to increase forest cover by 5 million hectares and improve the quality of forest cover in another 5 million hectares. Several other countries, especially post-colonial countries, have similar targets and spend a large amount of money to meet these targets. The authors trace the origins of these targets in French colonial and precolonial forestry traditions and outline the ways in which this thinking was transmitted from France to Britain and British colonial territories such as India.
Research goals & methods
The authors trace the origins of contemporary forestry targets in the Indian context to narratives around the taux de boisement or appropriate afforestation rate.
Conclusions & takeaways
The paper suggests that governments continue to implement afforestation policies which have been shown to have negative ecological and social impacts because their afforestation targets have colonial origins which were arbitrarily assigned to governed countries. The authors point out that a forestry target of covering 30% of land area with forests, which several post-colonial countries including India have adopted, stems from European contexts and cannot be applied to diverse ecological contexts such as arid and semi-arid regions. They suggest that tree plantations continue to be popular among government because they are a way through which the state controls people through the construction and reshaping of territories.
Ecologies of the colonial present: Pathological forestry from the taux de boisement to civilized plantations. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space. 2018;1(4):447 - 469. doi:10.1177/2514848618812029..