Under the British colonial rule the process of deforestation for economic development in India became systematic and extensive.
In the following ways, the British exploit the forests resources of India for their economic development
(i) By the early 19th century, oak forests in England were disappearing, British needed timber supply for their Royal navy and they sent search parties to explore forest resources of India in 1820. Within a decade vast quantities of timber were being exported from India.
(ii) Not only Royal navy for the movement of imperial troops, the Britishers needed the expansion of railways for their colonial trade. To run locomotives they needed wood and also for railway tracks they needed timber supply.
(iii) Large areas of natural forests were cleared to make way for tea, coffee and rubber plantations to meet Europe’s growing need for these commodities.
For this purpose, the Colonial Government took over the forests and gave vast areas to European planters at cheap rates.
(iv) In the colonial period, cultivation expanded rapidly. The British directly encouraged the production of commercial crops like jute, sugar wheat and cotton. These crops were demanded for the consumption of urban population and also for the raw materials needed in industrial production.
(v) The colonial power thought that forests were unproductive, so they tried to expand agriculture by clearing forests which would enhance the revenue of the state. Between 1880 and 1920, cultivated area in India rose by 6.7 million hectares.