Chandrapur district is the richest district in the State in respect of forest wealth. The forests range from well known valuable teak of Allapalli to low quality miscellaneous ones of Warora and are spread over an area of 18,290.58 km2 (70,262 sq. miles) which makes 69.99 per cent of the total geographical area of the district as against the average of 17.56 per cent for Maharashtra State. The district has the largest proportion and extent of the forests in the State. Of the total area, 7,560.21 km2 (2,919 sq. miles) are under reserved forests and 10,730.37 km2 (4,143 sq. miles) under protected forests. Steps are now in progress to constitute the latter as reserved forests under Chapter II of the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
For the purposes of administration, the forests are divided into six divisions, viz., (i) South Chandrapur, (ii) Central Chandrapur, (iii) West Chandrapur, (iv) East Chandrapur, (v) Allapalli and (vi) Bhamragarh. All the divisions work under the Conservator of Forests, Chandrapur Circle. To exercise a strict supervision over the forests and for efficient management, these six forest divisions have been sub-divided into 41 ranges which are further divided into 102 rounds and 590 beats. The area falling within each range has been enumerated in Chapter 13.
Composition of the Crop.
Scientifically these forests belong to southern tropical dry deciduous forests as per Champion's classification. In other words, the forests of this district, come under teak producing zone of the country. But in its natural growth teak is confined to small areas scattered throughout the district, the biggest block being in the vicinity of Allapalli. Rest of the forests grow mixed crop of miscellaneous species, i.e., economically unimportant or less important species, such as ain (Terminalia Tomentosa), bija (Pterocarpus marsupium), tendu (Diospyros melanoxylon), dhawra (Anageissus latifolia), moyain (Lanuea grandis), mohwa (Madhuca latijolia), aonla (Emblica officcinalis). Along bigger nalas and rivers kusum (Schleichera trijuga) and anjan (Terminalia arjuna) are invariably found. Besides the abovementioned common species, other species that are found scattered or in small compact patches are kekda (Garguga pinnata), kasai (Bridelia squanmosa), karai (saccopetalum tomentosum), parad (steresspermum suaveb-bens), haldu (Adina cordifolia), semal (bombax malabarica), salai (Boswellia serrata), tiwas (Ougenia dalbergioides) depending on the microclimatic and edaphic factors. In areas where due to local reasons the moisture conditions get very much drier and soil gets comparatively hardened, palas (butea monosperma) prevails. In degraded soil, khair (Acacia catechu) becomes prominent. Stereulia wens is found on low hilly tracts.
The understorey in the above forests is formed on ghont (Zizuphus xylohyra), bar (Ziziphus jujuba), dhaman (Grewia tiliiaefolia), achar (Buchanania latifolia) and the like. Bamboos (Dendrocalamus strictus) also need a special mention as common associate in the understorey in teak as well as some of the mixed
forests. The bamboo forests in the district occupy an area of 4,258.478 km2 (1,644.20 sq. miles). Quality varies from poor to good. Good quality bamboos are found in the remote areas of east Chandrapur division and also on better areas of Allapalli, Bhamragarh and West and Central Chandrapur divisions. Poor quality bamboos occur over major parts of West and Central Chandrapur divisions and Rajura sub-division. Bamboos in this district have flowered gregariously around 1940. The new crop has yet to get established particularly in parts of Kothari,
Chandrapur, Moharli, Mul and Warora Ranges.
Mature bamboos provide an excellent raw material for paper pulp. At present there is only one paper mill (Ballarpur Paper and Straw Board Mill) in this part of the State. But the areas worked by this mill form only a small part of the total area. Large areas still remain to be fully exploited. This together with recently planted eucalyptus which provides short fibre, provide ample scope for the development of paper industry in the district.
Dikamali (Gardenia gumiflora), Karonda (Carrisa), Clerodendron and helicateris are common shrubs covering the ground in the forests of this district. Vitex and Dodonia dwell on drier eroding soils.
The common climbers are palasbel (Butea suherosa), mahul (Bauhinia vahilli), kukudranj (Ventilago Calyculata) and eroni.
In the natural forests the rule of "survival of the fittest " prevails unless the natural environment is interferred by human agency. Left to themselves the forests under the influence of natural environments which include climate, rainfall, soil conditions and the micro-organisms may not necessarily have a healthy growth that can be usefully or advantageously employed. Again some of the essential species may not grow in the quantity that would meet the requirements. In such a state the forests would be more of a liability than an asset. To avoid this and to utilise
the forests to the fullest extent, the scientific management was applied to
these forests after the Forest Department under-took the control of forests in
1879. In the beginning the low demand and paucity of trained staff were the main
limiting factors in the application of these principles on a full scale. But
with the passage of time, the changed circumstances have permitted the spread of departmental activities on scientific lines. At present the scientific management consists of preparation of working plans for different forest tracts, regeneration of worked areas and realisation of sustained forest revenue. Depending upon the type of forests, terrain and the demand for forest pro-duce, the following systems are prescribed in different working plans in the district.
(I) Conversion to uniform by periodic blocks.-The natural forests represent all Age Classes. Such a forest is no doubt difficult to work, because each individual tree or groups of trees
require different treatment. Moreover the fellings in such forests result in sacrifice of young crop and ultimately culminates in giving low returns. In order to bring the forests under complete series of age gradation over the whole forests or in blocks, this system is adopted. It comprises clear felling with natural or artificial regeneration. It is adopted in better quality forests such as Allapalli, Pedigundam, Aheri, Dhaba, Markhanda, Sironcha, Chandrapur and Kolsa ranges.
(2) Selection improvement or selection-cum-improvement
felling system.-This system is adopted in the remote forests and also the hilly tracts from where the exploitation of economically less valuable species involves prohibitive costs. Forests of Allapalli, Bhamragarh, parts of Sironcha and hilly area of East Chandrapur division fall in this category. Besides the above tracts, this system is applied in the areas which have been over exploited in the past and which need careful working before they are worked under regular system. Forests in West Chandrapur division, Kothari and Markanda ranges and Rajura sub-division are examples of this type of working.
(3) Coppice with reserves.-This is a typical system
Vidarbha region and with it in this district. It is applied to
areas which are capable of producing small sized timber and fire-wood only. Most of the forests in the plains which have facilities for transport or which adjoin thickly populated habitations
are worked under this system. Forests of West Chandrapur and
Central Chandrapur divisions are worked accordingly.
(4) Clearfelling and plantations.-Under the working plans this
method was adopted for areas which were capable of producing
valuable timber but which were covered with mixed forests of
small value as also the areas where the regeneration of the valuable species was inadequate. Areas in Chandrapur, Kothari, Allapalli and Pedigundam were earmarked with this object. But
the old outlook was changed in plan era and under Five Year
Plan schemes large areas are being taken up for plantations in\addition to plantations of valuable species such as teak plantations of industrially important species like semal (Salmalia mala-barica), eucalyptus and bamboos.
Large number of nurseries have been established and are being maintained to ensure adequate supply of plants for these plantations. The most important of these are Chandrapur, Zaran, Markanda, Allapalli and Kamalapur.
(5) Bamboo working.-Formerly bamboos were exploited by local people for their domestic needs or for manufacture of small articles of cottage industries. The establishment of a paper mill at Ballarshah opened a new vista for working of the vast bamboo forests of this district. A number of felling series have been
allotted to the paper mill to supply raw material. Bamboo forests are worked on four years' cycle. The rules observed in felling are as under: -
(i) All dead bamboos are removed from the clump.
(ii) AH, plants (bamboos) of less than one year age and eight bamboos of more than one year age evenly scattered in the clump are retained in the felling.
(iii) Other plants are felled and removed.
(iv) When bamboos are cut the stumps are not less than one foot or more than 1½ feet in height.
(6) Others-Besides the above working systems, species like semal (Salmalia malabarica) and khair (Aeacia Catechu) are worked separately to feed match wood and katha industries respectively.
The district contributes an average forest revenue of Rs. 1.60 crores annually to the public exchequer. The expenditure incurred annually on different activities amounts to Rs. 62 lakhs.