Before colonial period, India had nearly one-third of the total land area under forest cover which rapidly declined.
The following points state how commercial farming led to decline in forest cover during colonial period.
(i) In the early 19th century, the colonial powers held the opinion that forests were unproductive and were in no - way useful in increasing the income of the state.
(ii) Dietrich Brand is set up the Indian Forest Service in 1864 and realised that a proper system had to be introduced to manage forests.
(iii) The Britisher encouraged the production of commercial crops like jute, sugar, wheat, and cotton. They also encouraged plantation of tea, coffee and rubber.
(iv) So, the Indian farmers cleared forests for the commercial crops. It affected the ecological balance against multi species forest.
(v) The Britishers gave vast areas to European planters. They cleared forests and planted tea, coffee, etc, in the enclosed areas.
(vi) The Britishers exported timber like oak, sheesham and teak wood for Royal Navy to make strong ships.
Expansion of the railway was another reason for clearing forest, as a large number of ‘sleepers’ were required for railway tracks.
(vii) As the population increased and the demand of food went up, the forest were cleared for the expansion of agricultural land.