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Forest Transformations in Java

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Forest Transformations in Java - Lesson Summary

The development and transformations of the forests of India and Java in Indonesia are similar to a great extent. Forest management in Java and India was started by colonisers, the Dutch in Java and the British in India. Both carried out large-scale deforestation for timber to build ships and sleepers for railways.

Shifting cultivation was practised for several generations by the forest communities of both places. Like the rebellion in Bastar in 1910, the Kalangs, who were the wood-cutting community of Java, also rebelled against the Dutch in 1770 to stand up against the laws that restricted their access to the forests.

In Java, the initiative to stand up against the Dutch was taken by Surontiko Samin of Randublatung, a teak forest village. He argued that the Dutch had not created water, wood and air, and that they had no right to place restrictions on the natural forest resources that Mother Earth has given.

Forest Services and scientific forestry was also introduced by the colonisers, in both Java and India, to manage forests for shipbuilding and railways. The Dutch in Java practised a system known as the ‘Blandongdiensten System’, under which, just like the British in India, they imposed heavy rents on land under cultivation.

Both the Dutch in Java and the British in India exploited the forest resources to meet their war needs. During the First World War and the Second World War, the British cut many trees in India to meet their war needs. Java faced a similar fate at the hands of the Dutch just before the Japanese occupation of Java. The Japanese further exploited the forests of Java and left the forests in an irretrievable state.

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