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Published on: 11/13/06 9:36 AM

Feature: Forest Research Institute


Green crucible

Dehradun’s Forest Research Institute is  more than just a pretty face.

There is an apocryphal story that if you took out all the bricks in this building, and laid them end-to-end, you could circle the earth.

It’s on every tourist’s itinerary, a trip to the sprawling, red-bricked institute, built more on the lines
of a palace than a government building. Except, most of the people go to gawp at the beautiful
edifice with little or no idea of its importance in the scheme of things conservational.

The faux Colonial palace, with its pillars, arches, vaulted ceilings, and with the Himalayan ranges as
backdrop, is actually the Forest Research Institute of India, established in 1906, set in 450 verdant
acres. The evolution of the institute has gone hand in hand with the evolution of the science of forestry in India as well as pretty much all of South East Asia.

The buildings have well-equipped laboratories, a library, herbarium, arboreta, a printing press and experimental field areas for conducting forestry research. The herbarium with 330,000 authenticated plant specimen is arguably the best in the East.

The FRI’s xylarium has a collection of over 18,000 wood specimens from India and abroad, making
the institute quite the last word on reference for wood identification. There is also an interesting
Botanical Museum that proves to be a perennial hit with tourists.

Research achievements

The Institute works quietly, efficiently, and is modest about its many laurels. It pioneered the process of pulping bamboos for papermaking. Its research achievements in the field of silviculture are the touchstone of forestry and scientific forest management in India.

Valuable scientific knowledge has been generated and documented on the silviculture of over 550
species of trees; classification of forest types of India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar; silviculture systems for tropical forests; the successful introduction of exotics, eucalyptus, poplars, tropical pines, acacias and leucaena leucocephala; seed technology of over 80 important forest tree seeds, and the management of bamboos.

Over 2000 sample plots, established over the years, have provided data for compiling yield and volume tables for over 120 tree species, apart from further greening this lovely spot.

Preservation plots established by the FRI throughout the country have helped forest officers and
conservationists gain a better understanding of forest ecology, biodiversity and the environment.

The Forest Research Institute Deemed University conducts Ph.D programmes for post-graduate
students, post-graduate diploma courses in Pulp and Paper Technology, Wood Technology and
Plantation Technology, and also networks with other training institutions in the field of forestry
education. If it’s a matter of forests, plants, trees, well, the Institute has it covered.

Now, even if every second casual visitor to the Forest Research Institute — and in season,
droves visit — absorbed something of the kind of work done in the institute, if every child who ran through the corridors was told in simple terms just what a treasure trove of relevant information it holds, what a boon it would be for our forests and of course, for ourselves.

This ran in THE HINDU of 13 Nov 2006.

Dehra DunFeatureFeaturesForest Research InstituteFRI

Sheila Kumar • November 13, 2006

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