The Morni Forest

October 16, 2011

Morni Reserved Forest

The forest of Morni was granted as a jagir to Mir Jafar Ali of Kotaha by the British in 1816 in recognition of the services rendered during the war against the Gurkhas. Thereafter, the Morni ‘ilaqa’ continued to be owned by the descendants of Mir Jafar Ali till 1968 when the Haryana Government started the acquisition of the forest land under the Land Acquisition Act. The acquired forest lands were then notified as ‘Protected Forests’ under the provisions of the Indian Forests Act, 1927. By June, 1972 the entire Morni forest area of 50807 acres had been acquired and notified as a ‘Protected Forest’. Subsequently, the Protected Forest was declared as a ‘Reserved Forest’ through a notification by the State Government in December, 1987.

Reserved Forests‘ differ from ‘Protected Forests‘ in the important aspect that rights to all activities like hunting, grazing, collection of fire wood etc are banned in case of Reserved Forests unless specific orders are issued otherwise by the Forest Settlement Officer. In case of Protected Forests such rights are sometimes allowed to communities living on the fringes of the forest who sustain their livelihood partially or wholly from forest resources or products.

The table below gives the ‘bhoj-wise’ distribution of the reserved forest area.

Area   under Morni Reserved Forest

S.No.

Bhoj

Had   Bast No.

Area   in acres

1

Dharara

321

985

2

Kothi

323

1111

3

Naita

319

1253

4

Tipra

320

1593

5

Balag

325

2138

6

Jabial

324

2165

7

Dharti

318

2398

8

Koti

322

2669

9

Kudana

314

3483

10

Paonta

315

4506

11

Plasra

316

4850

12

Mataur

317

5643

13

Naggal

326

8173

14

Rajpur

313

9840

Total

50807

Morni Reserve Forest

Morni Reserve Forest

The table below gives the Classification of the Morni forest into different forest types: –

Classification of Morni Forests Area
S.No. Classification   Type Hectares Acres
                     Subtropical Pine Forests
i Shivalik Chir Pine   Forest 2683.85 6632
            Northern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests
i Northern Dry Mixed   Deciduous Forests 10111.6 24986
ii Dry Deciduous Scrub –   Degradation stage 6201.9 15325
iii Dry Bamboo   brakes 1694.84 4188
Total area 20692.19 51131
Classification of Morni forests

Classification of Morni forests

The British authorities at Ambala had originally mooted the idea of declaring the forests in the Morni tract as a reserve forest in 1888. An extract of the report prepared by the British on the forests of Morni was included in the Ambala District Gazetteer (1892-93). It makes an interesting reading and has a detailed list of trees growing in the Morni forests. The same has been reproduced here:

‘In 1888 a proposal was made to constitute a reserved forest in the Morni tract in the interests partly of Government and partly of the Mir of Kotaha. Government was interested in the scheme in view of the protection of the hill sides from denudation, while it was suggested that the Mir, as the principal right-holder in the Morni jungles, would benefit by reservation in a large increase to the value of the forest products. In the report on the scheme submitted in October 1888 it was noticed that the existing forest growth, which is very dense in the higher ranges, is composed of miscellaneous scrub intermixed in the upper portions with Chil (Pinus longifolia) and Chal (Conocarpus latifolia). Lower down in the valleys the scrub is chiefly mingled with Sandan (Ougeinia dalbergioides), Siris (Albizzia Stipulata), Sein (Pentaptera Tomentosa), Papri (Ulmus integrifolia), Kachnar (Bauhinia variegata), Khair (Acacia catechu), Biul (Grewia oppositifolia), Jingan (Odina wodier), Aamla (Phyllanthus emblica), Amaltas (Cassia fistula), Sohanjna (Moringa pterygosperma) and Bael (Aegle marmelos).

There are no compact forests of chil but a fair number of these trees are found on the morni range (east of Morni) and on the Nangal and Tipra kothi ranges in particular. The trees are large and well grown in Bhoj Naggal below Tandok, while those on the Morni range are crooked and ill-formed, most probably in consequence of constant fires. Natural reproduction of chil is excellent, and all that can be desired in places that have escaped fire.

Low down in the valleys there are many fine Jaman (Eugenia jambolana), Mahwa (Bassia latifolia), Bahera (Terminalia bellerica), Tun and Harrar trees. Large numbers of the latter grow in the cultivated fields of Bhoj Naggal, and yield a fair revenue of which the zamindars have hitherto taken by far the larger share. Creepers are running rampant, and doing much harm, especially the Maljun (Bauhinia vahill).

The Sal tree (Shorea robusta) is found nowhere in these hills and it is exceedingly doubtful whether it could be introduced. The attempt was recently made to raise trees from seed obtained from Pilibhit. This was a complete failure, as was only to be expected, owing to the well-known difficulty in transporting sal seed from a long distance. Under any circumstances the limit of the sal tree is practically a few miles west of the Jamna. In the working plans of the Dehra Dun Forests it is prominently noticed that sal cannot be grown further to the west on account of the excessive heat and dryness of the Punjab portion of the Sub-Himalayan range.

As regards the benefits arising to Government from a strict reservation it appeared likely that if it should be found practicable to close the low hills absolutely both from fire and grazing, a very marked improvement would take place rapidly leading eventually to diminution in the force of the hill streams. Rich lands in the plains would be protected from erosion, and Government would be saved heavy losses on account of land revenue remissions, and risk of damage to important lines of road and railway. Apparently this was the limit of the direct interest of Government in the scheme, and this interest applied to the lower hills only and not to the whole tract. Further good would be done indirectly by way of example in the event of any scheme, however small, being carried out successfully, but while the cost of trouble of reservation would fall on the Mir he would, in the low hills at least, realise but a small portion of the ultimate gain. The scrub jungle which would grow over these hills would be invaluable as a protective covering, but would not be in itself a source of much revenue. Extension of cultivation would have to be forbidden absolutely, while even a moderate interference with existing rights of free grazing would meet with determined opposition from the people on whom the Mir depends for his revenue. Under these circumstances it seemed doubtful whether the Mir should be encouraged to undertake the closure of the low hills as a source of gain to himself. The case was altered if Government was willing to undertake the whole or part of the expense on its own account, but if Government was prepared to take direct action at all, it might do so more profitably in other parts of the range, where there has been greater denudation.

As regards the higher ranges of Morni and Tipra, Government was not directly interested in the reservation scheme, except in so far as it would afford some guarantee against wasteful management in the event of the tract passing into inefficient hands. For protective purposes nothing could be better than the existing growth of dense scrub jungle covering nearly all the higher spurs. A careful examination of these hills showed that there is practically no erosion. There are occasional landslips, but even these are obviously due to natural defects in the hill conformation and not to the undermining action of extensive torrents. The entire absence of drift wood along the beds of the streams within the hills, the moderate dimensions of their channels, the permanence of the terraced cultivation on even the steepest slopes, and the general depth and excellence of the soil are all alike evidence that no more effectual measures are required with a view to check the rush and volume of flood water. No clear instance of extensive damage was detected which could be directly traced to insufficient afforestation in these higher ranges. The volume of water carried down from these high hills must necessarily be large but would not be appreciably lessened by stricter measures of protection than those already in force. It was noticed in every direction that it was not until the streams passed within the low ranges of the outer hills that they assumed the character of sand torrents causing so much destruction in the plains. The explanation seemed to be that the injury is due much more to the geological structure of these low hills than to the actual amount of flood water brought down to them from above.

The conclusion arrived at was that no large outlay on the forest would bring in any adequate return. The country is so rugged, and the scrub growth so dense that the cost of planting operations would be prohibitive. This conclusion was accepted after some discussion and Government eventually abandoned the reservation scheme in July 1890.

The suggestions made for the improvement of the property, which could be carried out by the Mir independently of procedure under the Forest Act, noticed the advisability of systematic creeper cutting; of encouraging the more extensive growth of the Harrar tree (Terminalia chebula) for the sake of Myrobalan fruit; of bamboo planting; of protection from fires by the appointment of fire guards, and by stopping the practice of firing the trunks of chil trees to extract the resin; and, lastly, of opening out the property by cutting small paths to improve communications. The following is a list of the more important trees growing in the Morni jungles: —

Used for building purposes and agricultural implements.

  1. Khair—Acacia catechu.
  2. Chal—Conocarpus latifolis
  3. Sein —Pentaptera tomentosa
  4. Shisham—Dalbergia sissoo
  5. Sandan— Ougeinia dalbeigioides
  6. Tun—Cedrela toona.

Used for building purposes.

  1. Chil— Pinus longifolia
  2. Jaman—-Eugenia jambolana
  3. Mahwa— Bassia latifolia
  4. Pipal—Ficus religiosa
  5. Papri—Ulmus integrifolia
  6. Padul—Stereospermum suaveolens
  7. Pula—Kydia calycina
  8. Kakker – Pistachia integerrina

Used for building purposes and also lopped for fodder.

  1. Bor — Ficus bengalensis
  2. Bahera—Terminalis bellerica
  3. Ber—Zizyphus jujuba
  4. Dhak—Butea frondosa
  5. Siran —Albizzia stipulata
  6. Biul—Grewia oppositifolia
  7. Jigan—Odina wodier

Lopped for fodder, but not used as timber.

  1. Kachnar- Bauhinia variegata
  2. Kendu— Diospyros montana
  3. Keim—Stephegyne parvifolis
  4. Dhamin—Grewia tiliaefolia
  5. Lasora—Cordia myxa
  6. Karaunda—Carissa diffusa
  7. Maljan—Bauhinia vahill
  8. Mdlkangni—Celastrus senegalensis

Miscellaneous trees.

  1. Harrer- Terminalia chebula
  2. Aamla— Phyllanthus emblica
  3. Bael—Aegle marmelos
  4. Chilla—Casearia tomentosa
  5. Keint—Pyrus variolosa
  6. Sohanjna— Moringa pterygosperma.
  7. Simmal—Bombax malabaricum.
  8. Amaltas—Cassia fistula
  9. Kamala—Mallotus philippinensis
  10. Tejbal— Zanthoxylum hostile
  11. Har singhar — Nyctanthes arbor-tristis
  12. Dhai-phul—Woodfordia floribunda.’

Filed in: EnvironmentTrees & Shrubs

About the Author ()

An environmental enthusiast who loves tramping through the hills in search of the picturesque.

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