Organisation: The Chief Conservator of Forests, Maharashtra State, is the head of the Forest Department, with his head-quarters at Pune. The State is divided into circles for administrative purposes on the basis of territory covered and functions performed. The Chief Conservator is assisted by the Conservator of Forests, the latter being in charge of a Circle.

There is a separate organisation for forest utilization in charge of Forest Utilization Officer, Maharashtra State, Pune, who conducts investigations into better and more economical methods of production pertaining to forest produce and its marketability. He works under the direct control and guidance of the Chief Conservator of Forests, Pune.

The forest administrative units, small as they are and commensurate with the scanty forest areas of Sholapur district, form a very small portion of the administration of Ahmadnagar Division of Aurangabad Circle on the one hand, and Satara Division of Pune Circle on the other. The district has a very limited area of forest, mostly arid and scrub forest patches in Barshi and Malshiras talukas. Those in Barshi taluka are in charge of Range Forest Officer, Barshi Range, with headquarters at Barshi under the administrative control of Divisional Forest Officer, Ahmadnagar, and the Conservator of Forests, Aurangabad. The remaining forest areas elsewhere are included in Malshiras Range, Akkalkot Round and part of Jath Round which are under the administrative control of the Divisional Forest Officer, Satara, in Pune Circle.

The details of the forest area during the year 1972-73 are shown below:-


Reserved forest
(in hectares)

Unclassed forest
(in hectares)

Total forest
(in hectares)













The forests were in the past fairly dense scrub forests on the hills and with good growth of babul and neem lower down in the plains. At present, however, most of these forests have disappeared. What remains today are poor, stunted and malformed trees and shrubs in scattered patches. A little over half a century ago, the forest areas were under the administration of a forest division in Sholapur district. But, owing to the pressure of population, both human and bovine, these forest lands were denuded of vegetation and soil.

Consequently, they were transferred to the Revenue administration whereafter, they lay for decades barren, subjected to heavy indiscriminate grazing. Much of the reserved forest is still in charge of the Revenue department, barring those forest areas in Barshi, Malshiras and Akkalkot which are still under the management of the Forest department and are being brought under the various development schemes. It is, however, significant that under the greater pressure of population, even these areas with relatively better soil, are fast being brought under the plough for food production by the landless among whom they are being distributed. Grasses in these open areas are kept down due to heavy uncontrolled grazing. The only grass that is now available is the poorest quality of fodder grass, viz., " Kusali" (Andropogon spp.). The forests are mostly barren due to excessive grazing, pressure of population and very low rainfall. The district is known for dry hot climate with poor rainfall not exceeding fifteen inches, the average falling far short of this which is as low as 8 inches.

There are five working plans divisions situated in the State. This district falls under the Divisional Forest Officer, Working Plans Division, Pune. He is responsible for the preparation of working plans of the district.

Duties of Forest Officers: The Divisional Forest Officers in the district are directly responsible for development and regeneration of forests according to working schemes and other orders. They deal finally with forest offence cases, having power to compound the same. They are responsible for forest administration and management in all matters relating to technical forest operations.

The Range Forest Officers are in executive charge of their ranges. They are responsible for carrying out, with the help of Round Officers and Beat Guards and according to the orders of the Divisional Forest Officer, all forest works and protection of the forests in their respective jurisdiction.

The Foresters' duties include protection of forests, detection and investigation of offences, issue of transit passes and permits, collection of revenue and compensation in offences and supervision of the works of the forest guards under them.

The forest guards patrol and protect the forest in their beats, repair and maintain forest boundary marks, execute silvicultural works such as sowing, planting, tending, etc., and detect forest offences.

Classification: Under the Indian Forest Act (XV of 1927) forests are divided into two categories, reserved and protected.

Before the forests are classified as reserved or protected they have to be subjected to regular settlement by a Forest Settlement Officer who enquires into the existence of public and private rights. In the case of reserved forests, the existing rights are either settled, transferred or commuted. In the case of protected forests, the rights are clearly recorded and regulated. Forest settlement work has been completed for all the reserved forests in the district. The forests of Akkalkot and Barshi talukas have been demarcated.

The forests are managed under two working schemes, viz., (i) the working scheme for Aundh, Akkalkot and Phaltan merged states areas and (ii) the working scheme for Malshiras range. Working plan or scheme is a document which lays down the scientific management of the forests for a prescribed number of years.

The principal duty of a Forest Officer is the protection of forests in his charge. Care and precaution is required against damages by men and animals and against adverse climatic influences. Though occasionally forest fires may originate from natural causes, in the vast majority of cases they are due to human actions, either within or without the forest. The most frequent causes are carelessness or recklessness and occasionally there is incendiarism. Precautionary measures like fire-tracing and early burning are also taken by the department in good time against accidental fires. Rigid patrolling and vigilant watch against unauthorised felling and removal of forest produce by the villagers are some of the other measures adopted. Offenders in respect of unauthorised grazing and other damage from cattle are dealt with severely under the Forest Act and other laws.

System of management: The area under management in the district is worked, wherever working schemes have been prepared on the basis of agri-silvi and afforestation systems. Where no working scheme exists, the Divisional Forest Officers control the afforestation and regeneration programmes according to sanctioned schemes and other orders. Artificial regeneration is effected by various soil conservation measures such as construction of pits, trenches, bunding, gully-plugging, sowing, transplanting of seedlings or root and shoot cutting in pits and trenches and tending them for a period of three years. Cleaning and other cultural operations are also undertaken wherever necessary.

Exploitation: Forest products are divided into two main classes, viz., (1) major forest produce and (2) minor forest produce. The chief major forest produce consists of timber, firewood and charcoal. The minor forest produce consists of fodder grasses, rosha grass and gums, etc.

The tree-growth being sparse in a state of regression is not capable of commercial exploitation. The production of timber, firewood and charcoal is, therefore, negligible. The grass lands are, however, well protected and consist mainly of fodder grasses, and are either farmed out or sold on permits. The revenue realised during 1970-71 through the sales of fodder grass and other forest produce is shown below:-


Rs. P.



Grass and grazing


Other products


Total value


Fire protection: Fire lines are taken along the boundaries of 1 to 3 year old afforestation areas and kurans closed to grazing including the Fodder Bank at Ramling.

Grazing: No grazing is permitted in areas under regeneration for a period of ten years and all kurans are closed to grazing.

Rights and privileges: In the forests of Sholapur district, there are no recognised rights of the people other than right of way and right to take water from water-courses.

Vana Mahotsava: The initial object of Vana Mahotsava was to inculcate amongst the public love for trees and to create an interest in them to raise trees in private lands. It was adopted as a method in civic education and through it was intended to promote habits of conservation of tree-growth and vegetation. For several years the Forest department supplied seedlings to the public free of cost. Subsequently, however, the department started supplying new seedlings at a token price.

In Vana Mahotsava preference is given to the species of economic value such as babul, bamboo, fruit-bearing trees and trees of fodder and ornamental value. Seedlings are supplied from the nurseries maintained by the Forest department.

Apart from the supply of seedlings for planting in private lands, the Forest department also permits members of the public to plant fruit-trees in Government forest lands on condition that the planters are entitled to the usufruct of the trees planted by them against sanads issued to them while granting the lease by the Divisional Forest Officers.

In order to increase the potential value of the forests and to re-stock them, as far as compatible with valuable species, large-scale afforestative measures are undertaken and plantations are raised under the plan schemes. It is proposed to bring all available blank areas of the reserved forests under suitable tree species as also improve the pasture lands both qualitatively and quantitatively with fodder grasses to achieve the following objectives: (a) to aid soil and moisture conservation by afforesting the denuded hill-slopes; (b) to meet the needs of the agricultural populace in respect of fuel and fodder; and (c) to provide supplementary income from forest works in the interior and to provide employment to the rural populace.

Fifth Five-Year Plan Schemes: As per the National Forest Policy, area under forest should be 33 per cent of the total geographical area in each district. But in Sholapur district the percentage of forest area is very low, viz., 3.67. It is therefore proposed to undertake activities for development of forest within the available resources. An amount of Rs. 11.51 lakhs has been set apart for this purpose in the Fifth Five-Year Plan.

The details of the schemes taken up in the Fifth Plan are as under:-

(1) Farm Forestry: Under this scheme minimum area of ten hectares of land belonging to a gram panchayat is taken for plantation at the Government cost. A provision of Rs. 2.00 lakhs to cover an area of 300 hectares belonging to different gram panchayats under plantation has been made in the District Plan of Sholapur.

(2) Extension of forestry: This is a new scheme taken in the Fifth Plan. It is proposed to undertake plantation by the side of railways, canals and roads. An amount of Rs. 3.10 lakhs has been set apart for this purpose. An area of fifty hectares is expected to come under plantation.

(3) Afforestation and plantation: It is proposed to undertake agave plantation in the forest area and on the boundary of the forests. The object of the scheme is to preserve forests from fire and also to produce raw material required for small-scale industries. An amount of Rs. 2.37 lakhs has been provided to cover an area of 300 hectares.

(4) Development of fodder resources: This scheme aims at development of forest pasture lands by plantation of good variety of grass which will provide high quality of fodder for the animals. An amount of Rs. 1.23 lakhs for covering an area of sixty hectares has been set apart in the Fifth Five-Year Plan.

(5) Others: In addition to above, a provision has been made in the District Plan for the following:-


(Rupees in lakhs)

Special scheme for soil conservation and afforestation.


Net-work of fire lines


Survey and demarcation of forests and forest settlement.


Establishment of youth camps