CBSE Class 9 Social Science History Revision Notes Chapter 4

CBSE History Class 9 Chapter 4 Notes – Forest Society and Colonialism

Class 9 Chapter 4 History Notes will give you a short trip to the colonial era. The revision notes by Extramarks discuss the impact of the industrial revolution on the forests of India and Indonesia, the era of the emergence of the railway network, shipbuilding, increased demand for timber, and industrial raw materials, and the impact of the world war.

You will also learn about the Forest Laws and their impact on local communities, the classification and segregation of forests, colonial control, and scientific cultivation. 

Forests are the backbone of many industries. However, India suffered massively from colonial forest policies. They promoted scientific cultivation, exploited forests massively, and their development was at the cost of nature. These Class 9 Chapter 4 History Notes deal with everything per the CBSE Syllabus and are essential from the exam point of view.

CBSE Class 9 History Revision Notes 2023-24

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CBSE Class 9 History Revision Notes

  • Chapter 3 – Nazism and the Rise of Hitler

Forest Society and Colonialism Class 9 Notes History Chapter 4 Important Questions and Answers

  1. Why and how did the Bastar Rebellion take place?

Bastar is a plateau located south of the Chhattisgarh plains and north of the river Godavari. Tribals like Gonds, Halbas, and Dhurwas lived there. They were mainly nature worshippers. The Forest Laws banned them from shifting cultivation and using forest supplies. They were allowed to live in the reserved areas only on condition that they worked free for the British and did all the cutting and loading work. Under Dhurwa’s leadership, the tribals planned to resist the forest authorities and assault them. After days of collecting the resources, they gathered in Nethanar village, looted the bazaar, and attacked the cops and the police station. The British deployed troops and crushed the rebellion. The brave rebellions made the British vacate half of the land to the tribals.

  1. How was the expansion of the railway network responsible for the decline in forest areas?

The expansion of railways took place in India from 1850 onwards under the British Raj. Trains were run on steam engines; wood was burned to power the steam engines. Timbers were used to lay down railway sleepers. They cleared a large area of forest to make way for freight corridors.  The colonial administration expanded railways and exploited the resources available.

  1. Discuss the role of the First World War and the shipbuilding industry’s degradation of Indian forests.

The 19th century was regarded as the century of the British Empire, with a vast navy to maintain its overseas territories. Timber production declined in England during the 19th century. The Royal Navy required ships to maintain its fleet. Oak was the principal timber used in shipbuilding. The colonial administration began exploiting Indian woods and transporting the timber to England. During the First World War, the British chopped down more trees to lay railway sleepers and meet war requirements. 

  1. Discuss Brandis’ Scientific Forestry’s negative impact.

Firstly, Scientific Forestry was commercial and not scientific. Second, Dietrich Brandis supported monoculture; his rules were rigid and impractical for Indian culture. 

Though he had an affection for the forest, his method was unscientific. Monoculture was not good for biological diversity, only specific types of timbers were planted, and other flora species were eliminated. His ideas failed to meet the colonial demand for massive forest resources.

  1. Explain the story of Java Island under the Dutch administration.

The Kalanga community in Java practiced shifting cultivation. The Dutch were eliminating the tribals from the forest. In 1770, they attacked and rebelled against the Dutch overlords. They passed forest laws similar to the British and restricted the locals from using forest resources. The Dutch were chopping off the trees to lay down the railway tracks.  They forced locals to work for them free of charge and imposed taxes on lands used for cultivation. The people rebelled against them in the village of Randublatung under the leadership of Surontiko Samin, refusing to pay taxes and obstructing inspection.

Class 9 Social Science- History Chapter 4- Forest Society and Colonialism Notes

  • Amazon Rainforests in Latin America and the Western Ghats in India are the major ecological hotspots, millions of species of flora and fauna are found there, and the majority are still undiscovered. 
  • During the period of industrialisation, 1700-1995, which has its origin in Europe, there was massive deforestation, trees were cleared, and cultivation was promoted for industrial purposes. It was the time of commercial exploitation of nature.
  • In the 1600s, only one-sixth of India’s total landmass was under cultivation, which rose to 6.7 million hectares in 1880-1920. After that, the demand for food started to rise, and people started cash crop cultivation, such as coffee, sugarcane, and tea.
  • By the 19th century, Britain faced a shortage of oak trees, so they exploited the forests in India and shipped them back to Britain for shipbuilding and other infrastructural purposes. 
  • The period from the 1850s saw an increase in the expansion of railways in India. Wood was an essential commodity in the building of the railway network. It was used to build railway sleepers. As a result, the railway network in India rose from 25,000 km in 1890 to 765,00 km in 1946.
  • Rail routes were constructed to supply the raw materials. Forests were cut without a check.
  • The commercial plantation was promoted to meet the growing market demand in Europe. The British appointed Dietrich Brandis, a German forester as India’s first Inspector General for Forests. The Imperial Forest Research Institute was set up in 1906 to promote “scientific forestry” in Dehradun.
  • The Forest Acts of 1865, 1878, and 1927 divided the forests into three significant regions: reserved, protected, and village forests. This restricted local people from using forest resources in the reserved area; they were only allowed to use the village forests and were barred from the reserved areas.
  • Villagers had different and diverse objectives for the forest, while for the British, it was just to exploit to make money. Native people wanted a diverse forest; they used herbs as medicines, tubers as food, bamboo for constructing fences and huts, leaves for making disposables, mahua fruits, and semur (silk-cotton).
  • The Forest Acts proved to be a nightmare for natives; their free movement was restricted, and their everyday living activities of cutting wood for housing were also somehow bounded. The result was that people started stealing wood and other supplies and if caught, were left at the mercy of cops and forest rangers.
  • The British government banned shifting cultivation; as a result, communities were forced to be displaced and relocate. Specific communities were involved in shifting cultivation; they first burnt and cleared the forests and grew crops on the ash. After cultivating for a few years, they left the land for a few years, around 10-12, to let the soil regain its fertility and let forests regrow. The British found this technique not very economically feasible and thought the spreading fire might burn valuable timber. The European foresters believed that forests cut could not regrow hardwood, oak, sal, and teakwood and regarded this practice as harmful.
  • The British government banned hunting and poaching for people living in and around the forest. Hunting became a sport of the Big Boys Club, Royals of the Princely Indian States, and British Officers used to hunt for fun. The British regarded wild animals as a sign of danger and wanted to eliminate them from the forest; they promoted the killing of savage wildlife species, killing thousands of tigers, leopards, and wolves.
  • Rights of dealing in forest products were solely transferred to European companies. Tribal communities lost their traditional jobs of dealing with forest products. Communities in Madras Presidency like Korava and Yerukula lost their livelihoods and were recruited into factories as laborers. Santhals and Oraons communities were made to work in tea plantations.
  • Certain tribes used to worship forests and live in nature. For example, the people of Bastar were allowed to live in the protected forests only because they worked for free for the companies that were involved in cutting and loading wood.
  • In 1910, the Dhurwa tribe gathered and rebelled against the colonial government in the village of Nethnar; the British troops opened fire to suppress the rebellion.
  • Java was a Dutch colony. The Kalanga community of Java island practiced shifting cultivation. They rebelled against the colonial government in 1770. The Dutch enacted forest laws similar to India that barred local communities from taking advantage of the forest. Specific trees were planted to meet economic goals, and shifting cultivation was banned.
  • The First World War had a massive impact on forests. Forests in India and Indonesia were cut to meet their war needs. The Japanese destroyed forests and cleared land to set up their war factory. The British cut wood for shipbuilding.

Commercialising Forests

Deforestation increased massively under British rule. The British administration commercially exploited the resources. The British wanted to meet the rising European market demand, so they began cultivating coffee, tea, and sugarcane. On the other hand, during the industrial revolution, they used India as a primary exporter of raw materials for the textile industry. So they increased cultivation and cleared a lot of forest area. They cultivated any uncultivated area that was useless to them and increased production to add income to the state.

During the early 19th century, there was a shortage of oak trees in Britain. They needed ships to maintain the naval fleet. So from 1820 to 1830, they started growing timber in India and exporting it to England to meet the demand of its shipbuilding industry.

The emergence and expansion of railways in India from the 1850s onwards contributed to a sharp decline in the forest area. Timber was used to lay down railway sleepers, and contractors were hired to cut down the trees.

Dietrich Brandis came with his own rules, segregated the forests into regions, and promoted planting only commercially beneficial trees. 

Forest Society and Colonialism Chapter Summary

The British colonised India and this benefitted the crown. They enacted forest laws, made huge profits, regulated cultivation, and collected taxes. Furthermore,  India lost its forest cover between 1880 and 1920. Timber was cut, transported for shipbuilding, and used to expand railways. Cultivation was highly commercialized as per European demands, the forest was cleared, and vacant lands were cultivated.

Benefits of the Notes

Class 9 History Notes Chapter 4 is beneficial for students to understand the CBSE Syllabus and perform better in exams. In addition, it will help students get a grip on the subject. The notes are based explicitly on the CBSE Syllabus and NCERT Books. In addition, Extramarks also provides CBSE Past Year Question Papers and CBSE Extra Questions.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Differentiate between the village and the reserved forest.

Reserved forests were explicitly reserved for commercial purposes; forest rangers guarded them. The village forest was where villagers could enter and use the forest resources.


2. Mention the primary reasons for deforestation in India.

India’s primary reasons for deforestation are the commercialisation of forests, cash crop cultivation, a rising population, and increasing food demand.

3. Who was Dietrich Brandis?

Dietrich Brandis was a German forester who served as India’s first inspector general of forests and founded the Imperial Forest Research Institute in Dehradun.


4. What is shifting cultivation?

Certain tribes cleared vegetation in forest areas, cultivated the land for a few years, abandoned the land, and moved to other locations; in the meantime, the forest reclaimed its territory, and the soil regained fertility.