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Modernizing NatureForestry and Imperial Eco-Development 1800-1950$

S. Ravi Rajan

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199277964

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199277964.001.0001

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A Contract with Nature

A Contract with Nature

(p.21) 2 A Contract with Nature
Modernizing Nature


Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overarching account of the emergence of the idea of forest conservation in continental Europe from the mid-18th to the mid-19th centuries. The first part traces the emergence of the idea that forests offered physical or indirect climatic benefits. The second explores the evolution of the idea of direct utility, with particular reference to some of the traditions of political economy and state making co-terminous with the rise of scientific forestry in Europe.

Keywords:   forest conservation, continental Europe, climatic benefits

In his classic textbook, A Manual of Forestry, William Schlich, the former head of the Indian forestry service, wrote:

Forests are, in the economy of man and nature, of direct and indirect value; the former chiefly through their produce, and the latter through the influence which they exercise upon climate, the regulation of moisture, the stability of the soil, the healthiness of a country and allied subjects.1

Schlich was formally educated in the continental European forestry tradition and as his textbooks on forestry indicate, remained a strong adherent.2 As the chief forestry instructor at the Cooper’s Hill and Oxford forestry schools, he was also responsible for training the cadres who effectively staffed the forestry departments of the British Empire from the late nineteenth into the early twentieth century. Any attempt at understanding the mindset of the leaders and practitioners of colonial forestry during this period must therefore begin by grasping the world view underlying Schlich’s theoretical paradigm. The purpose of this chapter is to do just that. It has two broad sections. The first traces the emergence of the idea that forests offered physical, or indirect climatic benefits. The second explores the evolution of the idea of direct utility, with particular reference to some of the traditions of political economy and state making co-terminous with the rise of scientific forestry in Europe.


An enduring dogma in environmentalist thought is the idea that modernity brought with it a domineering or imperial attitude toward the natural world. According to one fairly widespread narrative, the notion of human beings as controllers of nature crystallized in Europe between the fifteenth (p.22) and the seventeenth centuries.3 It was ostensibly born out of a marriage between the religious concept that the human species had dominion over the earth, and the idea that, with tools and knowledge, they were improving the earth as much as they were improving themselves.4 The narrative proceeds to make the claim that such attitudes ultimately set the stage for the twentieth-century environmental crisis. Besides making the argument that can be caricatured by the phrase, ‘modernity begat the death of nature,’ the above narrative also draws up a genealogy of philosophies of care and respect for the earth and its creatures, variously described as ‘Arcadian’ or ‘feminine’. In effect, the argument goes, this counter-trend constituted the very antithesis of the ‘imperial’ mindset and, in doing so, provided the basis of the critique of industrial society.

Such narratives, however, fail to acknowledge two important facts. First, there was considerable acknowledgement, from as early as the thirteenth century, if not earlier, of the environmental effects of deforestation. The evidence is enshrined in local laws: between 1535 and 1777, 322 forests were proclaimed protected by official ordinances.5 Secondly, the writings of George Perkins Marsh, John Croumbie Brown, Franklin Benjamin Hough, Élisée Reclus, and several other luminaries of late nineteenth-century eco-evangelism make the case for the argument that from the early modern period onward, there had begun a systematic body of scientific observations and research programmes that culminated, by the mid nineteenth century, in the recognition that human beings are geological agents, capable of making undesirable and, from the standpoint of human societies, catastrophic changes in nature.6

(p.23) The roots of such scientific work can arguably be traced at least to the seventeenth century. One prominent example is John Evelyn’s book Sylvia, published in 1664, which argued, among other things, that grazing, glass-making, iron smelting, and naval building posed great threats to forests.7 Another equally cited example is the forest ordinance of Jean Baptiste Colbert in France in 1669, which was similarly sparked by concerns with the consequences of deforestation.8 In addition to worries about economic costs, Evelyn and Colbert were also aware of the wider environmental effects of deforestation, especially its impact on regional climates.9

The tradition of scientific concern with the effects of deforestation continued and developed further during the eighteenth century. In 1764, a German scientific article claimed that there was a causal connection between forests and precipitation.10 As the century progressed, a number of scientists and explorers, including Fernando Colon, George Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, and F. A. L. von Burgsdorf, were actively involved in investigating the consequences of forest clearance and deforestation.11 The French naturalist Buffon was in many respects illustrative of this cohort of proto-environmentalists. He contrasted the appearance of uninhabited with inhabited lands and argued that in building habitations human beings destroyed woods, drained lakes and marshes, made mountains bare, and soils less fertile. Buffon claimed further that deforestation led to climatic change and to the heating up of the earth; that lands with forests were cold; and that it was more difficult to cool than to heat the earth. In making his case, Buffon cited many examples of (p.24) these effects from travel accounts from Quebec, Cayenne, and the Guineas.12

By the late eighteenth century, research on the environmental impacts of deforestation had become an established domain for scientific enquiry. Scholars focused particularly on its effects on rivers and streams. For example, von Burgsdorf, speaking before the German Academy of Sciences in 1790, argued that forests were responsible for conserving water.13 Subsequent studies further deepened the understanding of the environmental importance of forests and, consequently, of the realization that environmental destruction adversely impacted political economy.

Perhaps nothing is more illustrative of this than the case of the torrents of the French and Austrian Alps and the work of Jean Antoine Fabre, the chief engineer of bridges and highways in the Département du Var in France. Based on his observations in Var, Basses-Alpes, and Bouches-du-Rhône, and his studies of the courses of the Rhône and Durance, Fabre pronounced in 1797 that deforestation and forest clearance in the high Alps were the two main causes of the sudden and overwhelming Alpine torrents which flooded the farms and settlements of the lowlands.14 Almost reminiscent of a modern political ecological analysis, Fabre wrote that deforestation and forest clearance in high mountainous areas brought about seven kinds of disaster:

The first disaster produced by the two causes of which we have just spoken is the ruin of our forests. The second disaster is the destruction in a great many places of the bed of vegetable soil with which our mountains were covered. The third disaster is the ruin of the domains which lie upon the rivers. The fourth disaster is the drainage, experienced in the navigation of the rivers, by the divisions in the water-courses, which are the consequence of great floods. The fifth disaster (p.25) consists in the strifes and contentions, between the proprietors on opposite banks of the river, to which the divisions in these water-courses give rise. The sixth disaster results from the deposits which they make at the mouths of the streams, which often intercept the navigation. In fine, the seventh disaster consists in the diminution of the sources which feed the streams and rivers in their ordinary state.15

Fabre’s work sparked a series of French studies, pursued by foresters, engineers, and agronomists, who were intimately associated with the reforestation efforts undertaken by the French government in the Hautes-Alpes during the late eighteenth and through the nineteenth centuries. Fabre’s successor, Alexandre Surrel, who continued his studies, announced that Alpine torrents appeared when forests disappeared and that they disappeared when forests were restored.16 Similar research was conducted on the Austrian Alps and in Italy, where scientists had been interested in torrents, the control of watercourses, and soil erosion from the days of Leonardo da Vinci, who had noted that streams were muddier when they passed through populated districts.17 By the early nineteenth century, a substantial body of literature had been produced on the relationship between deforestation and torrents.18 It is important to note, here, that a considerable proportion of this research was conducted in the countries bordering the Alps, which were, in effect, the site of some of the crucial early research on anthropogenic environmental change.19

(p.26) A related set of studies connecting deforestation with agrarian political economy involved lakes in the Alpine mountains in the late 1770s. These works posited an explicit connection between deforestation and decline in rainfall and, consequently, in water tables. Of particular importance was the work of Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, who measured the water levels of Lake Neuchâtel, Lake Bienne, and Lake Morat. Another important figure was the French chemist J. B. Boussingault, who had studied Saussure’s materials and concluded that water levels had lowered in modern times due to the cutting of woods.20 ‘My opinion’, wrote Boussingault, ‘is that the felling of trees over a large extent of country has always had the effect of lessening the mean annual quantity of rain … Great clearings diminish the quantity of spring water in a country.’21

Another issue that sparked the interest of scientific investigators was the relationship between forest clearance and shifting sand. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, many attempts were made in Europe and Japan to prevent the shifting of sand dunes through decrees and fix them by planting vegetation. By the early eighteenth century, this problem gained scientific scrutiny, and reports were published and commissions of dunes created to execute the recommendations therefrom. Between 1850 and 1892, in France alone, 1,750,000 acres of moving sand was fixed by planting pine forests.22

By the early nineteenth century, the European scientific environmental tradition brimmed with the idea that clearing, grazing, transhumance, torrents, and declining water tables were all interrelated parts of the greater problem of deforestation. With these scientific findings providing a backdrop, Alexander von Humboldt, around the turn of the nineteenth century, devoted much time to studying the relation between forest clearance and climatic change, using the lakes of the New World and of Central (p.27) Asia as examples. He wrote:

By felling trees which cover the tops and sides of mountains, men in every climate prepare at once two calamities for future generations—the want of fuel and the scarcity of water … Plants exhale fluid from their leaves, in the first place, for their own benefit. One of these is maintaining a suitable portion of humidity in the air. Not only do they attract and condense the moisture suspended in the air, and borne by the wind over the earth’s surface, which, by falling from their leaves, keeps the ground below moist and cool; but they can, by means of their roots, pump it up from a very considerable depth, and, raising it into the atmosphere, diffuse it over the face of the country. Trees, by transpiration from their leaves, surround themselves with an atmosphere, constantly cold and moist. They also shelter the soil from the direct action of the sun, and thus prevent evaporation of the water furnished by rains.23

Both von Humboldt and Boussingault were influential in promoting the scientific investigation of the relation between agriculture, forest clearance, and climatic change. Boussingault argued that extensive forest destruction diminished the amount of running water, that the diminution might be a result of less average annual rainfall or more active evaporation or both, and that the quantity of running water of countries having no agricultural encroachment on forests was regular and did not seem to change perceptibly. He argued further that forests regularized stream flow by impeding evaporation, that agriculture in a dry country which lacked forests dissipated an additional portion of running water, and that limited clearings of forests caused a diminution of springs.24

Scientists working in Europe and America during the first three decades of the nineteenth century came to similar conclusions. Among them were the German scientist Berghaus, who conducted a historical examination of the depths of water in the Elbe and the Oder. There were also a host of others, including A. C. Becquerel, Moreau de Jormis, Dureau de la Malle, Dominique François Arago, Gustav Wex, and Noah Webster.25 By the early nineteenth century, there were a substantial number of scientists working internationally on the relation between deforestation and climatic change, and especially on changes in water levels and water flows. These scientists, as the citations in their publications reveal, clearly knew each other’s work. There was thus an international ‘invisible (p.28) college’ of scientists actively working on the impact of deforestation on water flows and water tables.26 Moreover, they were united around a set of questions, a good illustration of which is Becquerel’s memoir on the climatic influences of forests, first published in 1853, translated into English in the annual report of the Smithsonian Institution in 1869, and republished in 1877 in Franklin Benjamin Hough’s ‘Report upon Forestry’. Becquerel, in effect, argued that there were six main questions:27

  1. 1. What is the part that forests play as a shelter against the winds or as a means of retarding the evaporation of rainwater?

  2. 2. What influences do the forests exert through the absorption of their roots or the evaporation of their leaves in modifying the hygrometrical conditions of the surrounding atmosphere?

  3. 3. How do they modify the temperatures of a country?

  4. 4. Do the forests exercise an influence upon the amount of water falling and upon the distribution of rains through the year, as well as upon the regulation of running waters and springs?

  5. 5. In what manner do they intervene in the protection of mountains and slopes?

  6. 6. What is the nature of the influence that they may be able to exercise upon public health?

In addition to research on the impact of forest clearance on water tables, shifting sand dunes, temperature, and erosion, the nineteenth century also saw the emergence of another scientific issue concerning forest clearance: the effect of deforestation on vegetation. This new concern was spearheaded by a set of botanists whom a historian of ecology has called ‘Humboldtian Plant Geographers’.28 The term owes its origins to Alexander von Humboldt’s emphasis, in the first half of the nineteenth century, on studies of vegetation, especially the relation between types of (p.29) vegetation and environmental conditions.29 Humboldt believed that the distribution of plants was directly related to climate and that every category of climate had one particular form of vegetation ideal for it. He wrote frequently about the ‘physiognomy’ of the landscape or, literally, its ‘face’: he argued that the face of the landscape was unique, as were human faces, and that it expressed the ideal qualities of that climatic region, just as human faces exemplified ideal racial characteristics.30 Such concerns led to the emergence of a new scientific tradition in botany, and ultimately a new discipline— plant ecology.31 In addition to the plant geographers, the issue of the relation between deforestation and climate was raised by another group of botanists concerned with questions of anatomy and physiology of trees. Important amongst these botanists was Henri Louis Duhamel du Monceau (1700–88), who conducted biological, physical, and chemical experiments on trees, studied the relative yields of various silvicultural systems, site factors, wood characteristics, transformation of matter during carbonization, timber harvesting, and the relationship between wood, air, and humidity.32

It was widely believed among this botanical community that human beings in different parts of the world were causing a great deal of destruction of vegetation. Writing in the mid nineteenth century, the German botanist Matthias Jacob Schleiden stressed the influence man had in adversely altering the world distribution of vegetation. He wrote:

A broad band of waste land follows gradually in the steps of cultivation. If it expands, its centre and cradle dies, and on the outer borders only do we find green shoots … True it is that thorns and thistles, ill-favoured and poisonous plants, well named by botanists ‘rubbish plants,’ mark the tract which man has proudly traversed through the earth. Before him lay original nature in her wild but sublime beauty. Behind him he leaves a desert, a deformed and ruined land; for childish desire of destruction, or thoughtless squandering of vegetable treasures, have destroyed the character of nature; and man himself flies terrified from the arena of his actions, leaving the impoverished earth to barbarous races or animals, so long as yet another spot in virgin beauty smiles before him. Here again, in selfish pursuit of profit, consciously or unconsciously, he begins anew the work of destruction.33

(p.30) The Danish plant geographer Fredrick Schouw similarly argued that nature if not interfered with would remain about the same throughout time. With cultural advancement, however, the power of human beings to transform and destroy nature increased enormously.34

The concern with the destruction of vegetation, when combined with the Humboldtian idea of the relation between vegetation and climate, led to new perspectives on the impact of human actions on forests. Once a relationship between climatic change and vegetational patterns had been established, it began to be believed that changes in vegetation, which were, in effect, consequences of deforestation, would also result in changes in climate. It was therefore increasingly argued that such climatic alterations, when combined with declines in water tables, would result in droughts.35 In 1847, Carl Fraas published an influential book on the destruction of the vegetation of Greece, Persia, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Egypt, and southern Europe as a result of human activities.36 Fraas argued that the original vegetation of these regions had been a response to climatic conditions and that human beings, mostly through deforestation, had changed the vegetation—which was now less useful to them— and also the climate.37 Such views and ideas began to be held widely in sections of the international scientific community.

Concerns about the agency of human beings and, in particular, about the ability of people to engineer climatic change and the transformation of vegetation detrimental to human interests thus constituted a significant aspect of the scientific discourse in Europe between the seventeenth and the nineteenth centuries. Such concerns centred around theories about the role of forests in regulating water flows, inducing rainfall, and maintaining water tables, on the one hand, and ensuring climatic stability and, in particular, preventing erosion, floods, and droughts, on the other.

(p.31) These theories also began to be interpreted in normative terms, in the sense of their ‘morals’ for human society. To quote Humboldt again, ‘How foolish do men appear, destroying the forest cover without regard to consequences, for thereby they rob themselves of wood and water.’38

By the time Marsh began his synthesis of the literature that culminated in his magnum opus, there were already apocalyptic ‘lessons’ to be drawn from a century of environmental science. An excellent illustration of these lessons is a short section in Man and Nature entitled, ‘General Consequences of the Destruction of the Forest’. It is so extraordinary in its combination of comprehensiveness with brevity and in its apocalyptic tone that it is worth reproducing almost in entirety.39

With the disappearance of the forest all is changed. At one season, the earth parts with its warmth by radiation to an open sky—receives, at another, an immoderate heat from the unobstructed rays of the sun. Hence the climate becomes excessive, and the soil is alternatively parched by the fervors of summer, and seared by the rigors of winter. Bleak winds sweep unresisted over its surface, drift away the snow that sheltered it from the frost, and dry up its scanty moisture. The precipitation becomes as regular as the temperature; the melting snows and vernal rains, no longer absorbed by a loose and bibulous vegetable mould, rush over the frozen surface, and pour down the valleys seaward, instead of filling a retentive bed of absorbent earth, and storing up a supply of moisture to feed perennial springs. The soil is bared of its covering of leaves, broken and loosened by the plough, deprived of the fibrous rootlets which held it together, dried and pulverized by sun and wind, and at last exhausted by new combinations. The face of the earth is no longer a sponge, but a dust heap, and the floods which the waters of the sky pour over it hurry swiftly along its slopes, carrying in suspension vast quantities of earthy particles which increase the abrading power and mechanical force of the current, and, augmented by the sand and gravel of falling banks, fill the beds of the streams, divert them into new channels and obstruct their outlets. The rivulets, wanting their former regularity of supply and deprived of the protecting shade of the woods, are heated, evaporated, and thus reduced in their summer currents, but swollen to raging torrents in autumn and in spring. From these causes, there is a constant degradation of the uplands, and a consequent elevation of the beds of watercourses and of lakes by the deposition of the mineral and vegetable matter carried down by the waters. The channels of the great rivers become unnavigable, their estuaries are choked up, and harbors which once sheltered large navies are shoaled by dangerous sandbars. The earth, stripped of its vegetable glebe, grows less and less productive, and, consequently, less able to protect itself by weaving a new network of roots to bind its particles together, a new carpeting of turf to shield it from wind and sun and scouring rain. Gradually, (p.32) it becomes altogether barren. The washing of the soil from the mountains leaves bare ridges of sterile rock, and the rich organic mould which covered them, now swept down into the dank low grounds, promotes a luxuriance of aquatic vegetation that breeds fever, and more insidious forms of mortal disease, by its decay, and thus the earth is rendered no longer fit for the habitation of man.40

The last point in the above passage, the allusion to disease, indirectly draws attention to yet another trend in the evolution of environmentalist sensibilities among scientific communities during the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. This trend, which Clarence Glacken and Richard Grove have called the ‘Hippocratic’ concern, stems from the theories of Arbuthnot, Montesquieu, Hales, and Priestley, and hypothesizes, in essence, that trees influenced the health of human beings.41

It is noteworthy, in conclusion to this section, that the emergence of modern scientific traditions in Europe brought with it research programmes that gave rise to some of the most enduring environmentalist ideas. Significantly, environmentalist concerns stemmed from scientific investigative practices that were profoundly reductionist. Consequently, frameworks of valuation that locate the roots of human destructiveness in modernity or its knowledge systems need to be carefully rethought. If indeed it can be argued that ‘imperial’ attitudes stemming from modern science led eventually to ecological catastrophe, it can be equally contended that the recognition of harm and solutions for redressing it are also to be found in modern science.

It is important to observe, however, that the European tradition of concern with deforestation was, from the earliest writers with their roots in Baconianism, part of an overall commitment to progress. None of the authors of the European scientific debate on the effects of deforestation, from Evelyn to Humboldt, glorified supposed golden ages of the past. The motivations underlying Evelyn’s work were primarily economic, directed at showing that tree planting could raise the value of estates.42 Similarly, the provisions in Colbert’s ordinance reveal an awareness of the relation of forest care to practices such as grazing, mast feeding, and the gathering of forest litter. Again, Buffon included a discussion of problems of forest management and utilization in his great encyclopedia Histoire naturelle.43 Moreover, he undertook site evaluation observations on his (p.33) estates, began experiments concerning tree growth, established hardwood plantings, cultivated conifers in his nurseries, and also conducted pioneering research on wood technology, establishing a correlation between the density and the strength of wood for the first time.44 Similarly, Humboldt was interested in using science, which for him meant a commitment to accuracy in all instruments and observations, a new mental sophistication, including a set of conceptual tools including isomaps, graphs, and the theory of errors, and the application of these not only to laboratory isolates but to studying the complex interrelationships of the physical, the biological, and the human, for the efficient use of natural resources.45 He therefore encouraged research and education in forest management and, in particular, assisted in the establishment of the forest school at Eberswalde in 1830, an institution which subsequently became one of the important educational and research centres in forestry in Germany.46

Concerns with the impact of deforestation for the European scientists mentioned in this section did not thus negate or counter what the environmental historian Donald Worster has called ‘Christian Pastoralism’, the idea that nature’s chief purpose is to serve human needs.47 For a great many of the engineers concerned with the problem of Alpine torrents, for example, the prime goal was to tame nature:

the time is still remote when man shall have completely subdued, and, if the word may be used, domesticated, tamed and utilised the wild waters of the mountains. But there is one happy land, the picture of which, contrasting with these gloomy sketches, may be offered to inquirers as a model and as an encouragement. It is the German Hartz… the mining industry, in quest of motive power, has seized upon the water—a force supplied without money and without price … and it may be said that there is not a single drop left to follow the natural course; from the highest slopes the rain is collected in furrows forming gutters; all the ravines are closed up, and numerous ponds store up their supplies; collected in canals the waters make the circuit of the brows of the hills, are carried across valleys, bury themselves in projecting spurs, and conducted to the gate of the factories, move the hydraulic wheels placed one below another at all the descending levels of the mountains; and, coming at length to the thalweg, the waters are not yet freed— they are made to descend into the mine and there to work underground.48

(p.34) It follows that early or proto-environmentalist scientific traditions did not espouse a preservationist attitude to nature, wherein conservation is a mandate stemming from the idea that non-human species had intrinsic rights to exist. On the contrary, most of the early scientific studies on vegetation and climatic change sought to ensure that human beings could continue to strive to control nature without destroying their basis of subsistence.49 One possible reason for this is that many of the scientific practitioners who propounded environmental theories were either landowners, managers, or had held some other responsibility that related to well-being and continued generation of wealth through cultivation. This concern with agrarian productivity resonated sharply with the doctrine of physiocracy, which, as will be argued later in this chapter, was one of the important emergent frameworks of political economy during this period.

Climatic environmentalism, thus, was in many significant ways connected with doctrines of and practices pertaining to agrarian political economy. However, many among the proto-environmentalists of this period believed that human environmental misdeeds could be undone. One example is the following passage, written by the botanist Matthias Jacob Schleiden:

it is not impossible, it is only difficult, for man without renouncing the advantage of culture itself, one day to make reparation for the injury which he has inflicted: he is appointed lord of creation … But we see, too, that the nobler races, or truly cultivated men, even now raise their warning voices, put their small hand to the mighty work of restoring to nature her strength and fullness in yet a higher stage than that of wild nature; one dependent on the law of purpose given by man.50

The last sentence in the above quotation is particularly important. Nature, in this modernist interpretation of the dominion myth, had to be improved upon or cultivated to serve higher ends determined by the (p.35) children of the enlightenment.51 Put differently, betterment was enlightened humanity’s contract with nature.


Nowhere are the ostensibly higher ends or laws of purpose alluded to in the Schleiden quote more visible than the evolution of scientific forestry. As an economic system, modern forestry originated in eighteenth-century Prussia. It was, in effect, an attempt to consolidate upon earlier and extant practices of woodland management, and to establish a scientific resource use regime. In this, it was an important exemplar of cameral-ist science and economics. Cameralism was an early public policy doctrine that sought to reconstruct the economic foundations of a region devastated by a series of wars by providing state support to industries and banks, extending and improving infrastructure (canals, bridges, harbours, and roads), promoting modernization, and strictly regulating trade, commerce, and the agricultural sector.52The term originated in the management of the state’s treasury (Kammer, caisse, cameraprincipis), seen as the principal instrument of economic and political power. In an age of enlightened absolutism, cameralism emphasized the idea that the state ought to be a regulator of development and thereby serve the general happiness of the subjects.53

The cameralist doctrine essentially held that improvements in administration and resource management mandated a science of state finances. Accordingly, various economic, administrative, and social practices of the state were vigorously scrutinized in order to subject ‘scattered pieces of knowledge … into systems’ and to transform ‘all sorts of activities (p.36) previously left to habit into a science’.54 Underlying these various cameral sciences, as the resultant new disciplines of knowledge came to be known, was a commitment to quantification and economic rationalization.

The inclusion of forestry among the cameral sciences was a result of a perceived shortage of wood in Germany in the mid eighteenth century.55 A small group of state officials began to hypothesize that a crisis in the supply of wood was impending. They began to articulate the idea that expanding the supply of wood by complex forest management promised long-term gains. Further, they made the argument that the skill to realize this potential was lacking.56 Indeed, the vast majority of foresters were caretakers, game wardens, and masters of the hunt, with no theoretical or practical training in forestry. The first step towards a new science of forestry therefore was the establishment of a number of schools of training and research.

By the middle of the century, forestry schools had been established and books and journals devoted to forestry began to be published.57 The key people involved in the creation of this new discipline were the holzgerechte Jäger (game wardens versed in forestry), the Kameralisten (students of finance and administration) in the government, and the Kameralisten in the universities.58 By the nineteenth century, the methods and approaches of (p.37) German forestry had undergone a considerable degree of metamorphosis since its early days as a cameral science. Despite this change, the basic agenda of German forestry remained more or less the same. It consisted, in essence, in describing ‘the living forest quantitatively before subjecting it to economic reason’.59 An understanding of these methods and approaches as they evolved over the years offers a great deal of insight into the priorities and resource management ideologies of modern continental forestry and indeed of British colonial forestry in the second half of the nineteenth century and later.

2.2.1. Stages in the Development of German Forestry: A Brief Overview

Cameralist forestry initially built on forest management practices already prevalent among local forest communities. The areal method, one of the earliest systems developed by cameralist foresters, was based on a traditional practice of forest use that involved the setting of annual cutting schedules. Foresters demarcated and measured the acreage covered by the woods and estimated the numbers of years that the dominant types of trees needed to grow between cuttings and clearings. They then partitioned the forest into a number of divisions equal to the number of years in this growth cycle and derived annual yields on the assumption that equal areas yielded equal amounts of wood for harvest each year.60

Although this method worked well for relatively short growth periods typical of traditional forestry practices, it was soon abandoned. The reason for this is indicative of the direction in which German cameralist forestry was to develop in the decades to come. The areal method was rejected because it proved insufficient for fiscal or forest officials interested in the systematic and scientifically sustainable harvest of high (old and mature) timber, which they thought of as equivalent to cash crops. The insufficiency arose from the irregular topography and uneven distribution of German woodlands, which made areal computations extremely difficult. Moreover, such computations were further complicated by the fact that the correlation of acreage with actual distribution of lumber and firewood required principles not formulated and measurements not (p.38) routinely executed under this method of forestry. The area-based system was also inadequate to respond to the fluctuations produced by nature over the many decades of a single forest cycle. Nor could it provide a flexible way of directly adjusting the harvest from year to year, or predict annual yields over the long cycle from the outset.61

Methods involving area-based approaches to forest economy therefore gave way to those based on mass or volume of wood. In the early 1760s, Johann Gottlieb Beckmann from Saxony, a game warden turned forest inspector turned university professor, developed a method which involved a team of assistants, each supplied with birch nails of various colours, walking side by side through the forest at intervals of a few yards.62 Each member of the group concentrated on one side of the forest, noted every tree he passed, made estimates of the size categories into which each tree fell, and marked individual trees with nails of an appropriate colour. When the operation was completed, the unused nails were counted and subtracted from the original supply, thus yielding an estimate of the number of trees in each size category. Since the approximate yield of wood from trees of each size category was known from experience, the amount of standing wood in a forest could, with appropriate multipliers, be determined easily.63

Empirical approaches such as Beckmann’s were further developed upon by a generation of mathematically trained foresters such as Karl Christoph Oettelt, Johann Vierenklee, and Johann Hossfeld.64 These foresters assigned the task of making measurements in the forest to the Forstgeometer, a surveyor who, in addition to making such measurements, demarcated the borders of the forest, prepared maps, and carried out other prescribed tasks for a set fee. A division of labour then evolved, with the forest geometer along with a team of marching assistants gathering the data, and the chief forester and his superiors undertaking the work of calculation, analysis, and planning.

The activity of data analysis was inspired by a new confidence in the ability of mathematical principles and techniques to ascertain wood mass, the crucial variable of the new forestry. Several methods were developed to (p.39) calculate the mass of wood mathematically. While some used tree heights as the basis for calculations, others deployed integral calculus to handle the irregular shapes of standing trees, while yet others idealized the shapes to truncated cones. The techniques developed by Oettelt, Vierenklee, and Hossfeld enabled the calculation of the quantity of wood in a tree without felling it. A new abstract mathematics-based forestry thus evolved. In this framework, forestry science supplied the necessary principles to organize the data gathered in the field and thereby ascertain the mass of wood which could be found at any given place and time. Tables were compiled based on the carefully constructed and controlled field measurements.65

In this tradition of Forstwissenschaft, the forester’s idea of a forest was gleaned from the conceptual framework of his manual, which provided an outline of exemplary tables specifying details such as the type and yield of various tree species. The manual thereby helped the forester decide how best to manage any individual forest. It provided an ideal approximation of a standard tree, or the Normalbaum, to which the natural specimens could be approximated, thereby helping expedite processes of inventory, estimation, and, ultimately, planning.66 Indeed, although most treatises on forestry contained instructions for averaging measurements made on a test plot, many foresters preferred the Normalbaum, for the simplicity it afforded. Moreover, tables of numbers representing measurements and calculations provided data on specific classes of trees under specified conditions. These tables rationalized across space, and were indifferent to regional variations.67

By the end of the eighteenth century, German forestry metamorphosed into a systematic science of determining, predicting, and controlling wood mass. It reached a climax in the work of Heinrich Cotta, Georg Ludwig Hartig, Friedrich Wilhelm Leopold Pfeil, Johann Christian Hundeshagen, and Carl Justus Heyer, who wrote the first ‘classics’ and to whom is attributed the birth of the modern science of forestry.68 Writing at the turn of the century, Cotta enunciated a three-pronged approach to forest management. The first step was a geometric survey, which would supply information about the extent of forests. The second involved calculations (p.40) of wood mass of individual trees and stands and finally of the forest as a whole with growth rates calculated for each level of organization. The third step entailed linking the forest balance sheet to the monetary budget by treating the standing forest as capital, its yield as interest, and then completing a chain of conversions from wood to units of currency.69

The fundamental problem of forest management for Cotta and his colleagues was the determination of the ‘standing value’ of the forest, given uninterrupted maintenance costs and full harvest some 100 to 150 years hence. Their science therefore consisted of inventory and prediction. Cotta, for example, championed the use of ‘experience tables’ which reinforced the notion of the Normalbaum, or a forest conceptualized as a set of standard trees. The forester instructed his assistants in the use of these tables so that a mental picture of a tree encountered in a forest corresponded to an entry in the tables. A well-trained forester could therefore make an instant association from the mental picture triggered by a given tree to the value of wood mass contained in that tree, in effect, being an instant computer of wood mass. The division of labour in this forestry system entailed the head forester determining the growth rates, preparing maps and calculating tables, and delegating to his staff routine measurements and the mechanical application of tables.70

The forestry practices of Cotta’s generation had thereby evolved considerably from the days of Beckmann and his army of assistants with coloured nails. It was, in effect, a confluence of two broad influences. First, it was based upon the practical experiences of several generations of artisan-trained, empirically schooled holzgerechte Jäger. What made the new forestry distinctive was the fact this vast constellation of practical or local knowledge was consolidated and repackaged. One aspect of this repackaging was the use of advanced mathematics. The emergence of sophisticated sampling and generalization techniques meant that the work of the assessment and management of the forest required only standard trees and the experience tables. Instead of getting the data needed for determining fellings or predicting monetary yield from direct measurements of wood mass or volume, the forester could now employ new analytic tools developed for forest computation, the ‘standard tree’, the ‘size class’, the ‘age class’, and the ‘sample plot’. A second facet of the new forestry involved the development and deployment of a specialized body of literature on forest botany and zoology.71 There was however (p.41) a third and extremely important aspect to the repackaging: the incorporation of the goals of forestry science within cameralist economic principles.72

2.2.2. German Forestry as an Ideology of Resource Use

In order to appreciate the significance of cameralism, it is important to attempt to characterize the ideology of resource use implicit in this new approach to forest management. A critical principle that stands out here is that of sustained yield, or sustainability (Nachhaltigkeit). This concept was fundamental for any system established to provide resources for the future. The idea emerged as early as 1767, when Johann Ehrenfried Vierenklee argued that the forester must know how to divide up a forest into a definite number of annual cutting areas from which he should obtain a definite amount of wood each year. Vierenklee had used mathematics to obtain formulae to achieve this distinction and had based his work on growth calculations for high timber.

The idea of sustained yield thereafter became the cornerstone of the Forstwissenschaft. From a series of quantities and qualifiers such as growth rates, mass of wood in a forest, and quality of soils, the scientific forester was trained to create a schedule of cuttings for the forest of standard trees under the ‘particular aspects of each system of culture’ such as timber forest, coppice, or a mixed form.73 The methods of ‘forest regulation’ developed were predictive and prescriptive. They offered a long-term framework of forest management based on the mathematics and standard practices for application in forests. Scientific forest regulation also exercised many aspects of the forester’s art and science, from cartography, description, and techniques for regeneration to silviculture and assessment. Although the methods varied greatly, they resulted in the visual arrangement of age classes and plots, linked with the quantities of wood and cuttings over time. Fold-out tables were common and, like modern-day business charts, paid great attention to graphic clarity and had a great faith in numbers. The concept of sustained yield brought into forestry science the concept of time: it forced the forester to ask how much wood a forest could deliver, not only immediately but over a century or two, and how this yield could be harvested in a given year so as to ensure that the (p.42) same yield would still be available a hundred years hence. It thereby effectively made a forester a curator of forests.74

The idea of sustainable yield forestry brought with it an important operational requirement, stemming from the imperative to convert the amount of wood to its value. This requirement was the need to maintain a balance sheet. The forester was therefore required to prepare a Forst-etat, a budget that compared the yield to what the forest could bear over time in order to prevent either under- or overutilization of wood. Terms such as ‘forest use budget’ and ‘natural forest budget’ were accordingly used to describe the related components of planning and biological growth that concerned the forester in his attempt to balance supply and demand. In drawing up a balance sheet, the forester was meant to evaluate disturbances to the equilibrium of the forest caused both by natural causes such as fires and pests and by human-induced causes. Having done so, and having calculated the magnitude of these disturbances, the forester had the information to prescribe means for restoring the equilibrium of growth and yield over time. Forests could thus be managed according to books consisting largely of numbers concerning consumption, production, and distribution of wood—arranged so that ultimately the balance in every forest, district, administrative region, and province could easily be reviewed at a glance.75

Given that the principal goal of economic forestry was to create an optimal resource use regimen defined in terms of yield, there was no particular motivation to maximize species diversity. On the contrary, sustained yield forestry practised during this period sought to economize effort by producing approximations that, for the sake of calculation, simplified the diversity of nature. For example, Johann Wilhelm Hossfeld, a leading proponent of stereometrical and geometrical methods in the determination of wood volume and the inventor of methods to calculate the value of the forest, argued that a series of multiplied averages based on one or two easily observed characteristics such as the height of a stand of trees was as good as an exact summation of all the individual cases.76 Again, Hartig advocated strict adherence to results drawn from a few sample plots. He advocated the application of simple rules and the discarding of ‘arbitrary’ details of nature.77 Similarly, Cotta argued that selective measurements should be used to generate acceptable values for quantities like typical yield or growth. These could then become the (p.43) characteristics of ideal-types presented in tables and other summations and multiplications of data from test plots. Cotta contended, further, that the forester did not have to worry about the accumulation of errors, claiming that individual differences cancelled out in the aggregate, thus giving the forester freedom from the need to poll every tree without increasing the risk of error.78 As a consequence of such reasoning, Forstwissenschaft, through to the late nineteenth century, when new philosophies emerged, concentrated on regulating nature according to age classes and wood masses, aiming, ultimately, to construct the ‘normal forest’. The physical result was the creation of monocultural, even-aged forests. The Normalbaum had, in effect, been transformed from abstraction to reality.79

2.2.3. German Forestry and Society

There is one more aspect to the ideology of German forestry that needs to be understood before discussing the significance of the cameralist revolution—the consequence of new practices for social and economic relations. Owing to the fact that forests were perceived as being crucially important for the national economy, as both climatic regulators and economic engines, the German forestry tradition was committed to exercising a strict regime of protection.

As a result, as more and more areas came under their control, the question of the definition of forests became increasingly significant to foresters. Although traditional privileges and the continued use of the forest for agricultural purposes such as grazing had long discouraged a conceptually precise demarcation of the forest, the Kameralisten foresters promoted the notion that it could be defined precisely and studied objectively.80 This idea was born out of a belief that most rights of forest use were harmful and their regulation highly desirable.81 Consequently, there began a movement to diminish the rights of traditional forest users over their resources.

Over time, the Prussian forestry tradition devised explicit tools for regulating the usufruct rights of local peoples. There were four different kinds of regulation, defined as ‘the definite restriction in respect to time or duration of rights, or with respect to the areas subject to them’.82 They included conversion (Umwandlung), in which the ‘beneficiary’ (p.44) was assigned another product in place of the one taken; reduction (Einschraenkung) or diminution (Ermaessigung), a temporary reduction below the normal use quota in cases when the encumbered forest could not produce the necessary material as a result of changes in system of management such as deterioration of soil, fire, and insect attacks; settlement (Fixierung), in which the extent of rights, hitherto vaguely defined, was fixed definitely on the basis of the need for the material; and transformation (Verlegung), according to which the rights of use were shifted to another part of the forest.83 In addition to regulation, German forestry also allowed for extinction (Abloesung), which involved the complete abolition or annulment of rights in return for suitable compensation paid to the ‘beneficiary’.84 German forest law gave forest officials the right to enforce these provisions, which they did with a great deal of force and authority. Their uncontrolled harshness engendered a great deal of resentment among local populations and led to many protests over access to forest resources.85

With the institutionalization of forestry and the establishment of schools and training programmes, such forest laws and regulations were encoded into the disciplinary matrix that emerged. Modes of forest use devised by foresters and their policy perspectives on whether and to what extent forests ought to be maintained in any country, and whether forest ownership should rest with the state, individuals, communities, or private enterprise, were thereby entrenched and reproduced across generations.86 The historical evolution of these branches also reflected the tensions between foresters, who had emerged as an interest group on the issue of forest resource use, and various other interest groups, including agriculturalists and pastoralists. This tradition of forestry, as will be shown in the next section, played a major role in shaping French forestry which, along with the German, was instrumental to the development of the British colonial forestry tradition in the nineteenth century.

2.2.4. French Forestry

France had a tradition of systematic state forestry prior to the introduction of German methods in the late eighteenth century. In the mid seventeenth century, Jean Baptiste Colbert, a minister in the court of Louis XIV, declared the forest of state importance and passed an ordinance in 1669 (p.45) which gave the king significant new rights over French forests.87 The ordinance was enacted after an eight-year study by a commission consisting of administrative officials, lawyers, and people familiar with forestry problems. It arose out of a realization, following an acute shortfall in timber for ship construction in France, that maintaining a domestic source in the face of international competition for wood was vital to the future of that country.88 The main goal of the ordinance was to systematize forest management based on economics, with the purpose of determining the productivity of forests and clarifying disputes over ownership and land tenure.89 Colbert’s ordinance gave water and forest superintendents power to levy heavy fines for violations while recognizing the importance of forests for the resource needs of agrarian populations.90 French forest law continued to evolve in the following decades until 1752, when the chief forest master of Rouen, Antoine Pecquet, wrote Loixforestiers de France.91

Following the French Revolution, and in the wave of expropriation and public distribution of state and church properties, Colbert’s system of forest management, which had assigned an important role to the state and the king, came under severe attack. Leading the charge were the French physiocrats, who had contested the ideas of the mercantilist Kameralisten from the middle of the eighteenth century.92 In 1770, a leading French physiocrat, G. F. leTrosne, had launched an open attack on the Colbertian system and advocated private property ownership. His criticisms however, had no immediate effect, and the ordinance remained in force until the revolution in 1789.93

At the National Convention of 1792, the question of what to replace the Colbertian scheme with was an important topic of discussion and philosophical debate. The issue was whether royal forests should be (p.46) alienated and put into private hands, or kept and managed by the state for the national interest. A related question for debate concerned the role of public property in a democracy and, specifically, how a democratic forest administration could be organized.94There was no clear consensus on these issues until 1801 when, with the re-establishment of the Administration of Water and Forests under the finance ministry, a definite perspective began to evolve. Forests, in this view, were seen as national resources, to be managed on the basis of the emerging science of silviculture, which had by then begun thriving in neighbouring Germany. The idea that scientific management was necessary to cultivate France’s forests had, during this period, also been promoted by a number of important people, notably Baudrillart, who was chief of division, Administration Générale des Forêts, and professor of political economy.95 The Water and Forest Administration promulgated 123 regulations concerning forest management. These regulations included applying principles of modern forest management to communal forests, the reassertion of state management of forest plantations, and the adoption and application of scientific survey techniques.96

In 1820, the French national government established an independent agency, the Corps des Eaux et Forêts, charged with developing management policy and administering the forestry estate. In 1824–5, a school of forestry was established at Nancy to train personnel for this professional corps. The Nancy forestry school was one of the grandes écoles of the nation, along with the École des Mines, the École des Ponts et Chaussées, the École Polytechnique, the École Navale, the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, and the École Normale Superieure.97 These schools were designed to provide an educated, scientific, modern, technocratic elite: engineers, scientists, planners, educators, and politicians who would systematically and rationally address the planning needs of the nation as it entered the modern period.98

The first director of the Nancy school was J. Bernard Lorentz, a German-trained forester and a friend of G. L. Hartig, who had published the Lorentz manuelduforestier in 1801.99 His successors as directors of the (p.47) Nancy school were de Salomon (1830–8), Adolphe L. F. Parade (1838–65), who was an assistant and son-in-law of Lorentz, and H. Nanquette (1864–80), all of whom were foresters trained in Germany.100 The German training was necessitated because although France had a distinguished tradition of woodland management, the new ideology privileged scientific silviculture.101 Together, Lorentz and his successors ardently promoted German forestry techniques that favoured tree plantations— monocultural ‘high forests’ composed of species suitable for construction and meeting industrial needs.102 The state corps forestier subsequently undertook reforestation programmes in consonance with the Germanic forestry agenda.

Under their schemes, forests across France were cut and replanted with monocultural stands of species such as pines that were deemed economically important, replacing mixed forests.103 The new forestry steadily displaced the traditional coppice system, which yielded timber and products more varied in size and kind than did the high forest but which had been more suitable to the myriad requirements of local inhabitants besides sustaining the biological complexity required for the forest’s health and creating an iconic landscape. Moreover, as in Germany, the new forestry replaced communal forest management systems, rights of forage, pasturage, gleaning, and coppicing practices. The forest, in the view of the graduates of Nancy, was an element of France’s infrastructure, like a bridge or a road, and at the service of the state’s general political and economic policies.104 It necessitated the long-term presence of a professional group of foresters to manage the desired high forest woods. The locals, who had traditionally managed the coppiced woodlands for their daily needs, consequently had to abide by the forest management regimes set by professional foresters.105

(p.48) 2.2.5. Modern French Forestry and People

The forest that the French Forestry Corps protected, rehabilitated, and developed was thus very different from the historic forest managed by local people for their needs. However, the new forestry also placed blame for forest degradation on the traditional systems of natural resource management. Such blame reflected the ongoing struggle for control over natural resources between traditional resource users and the new class of people, the bourgeoisie, whose commercial interests in a unified, industrial nature required access to wood for fuel needs.106 It also reflected the emergent scientific consensus about the fragility of mountain ecosystems.107

The latter concern led, over time, to a scientific crusade, developed to ‘save’ the forest from local populations. Led by engineers, agronomists, and other scientists, this campaign produced what Richard Drayton has termed the Myth of the Environmentally Profligate Native.108 It asserted that whereas forest resources remained static, the size of local populations ‘abusing’ them continued to grow. An important aspect of this campaign to save the forest from local people was the conception that forests were needed for agriculture in the lowlands and to prevent erosion, landslides, avalanches, and floods in the mountains.109 Here, French foresters worked along with the engineers and others described in section 2.1 who were concerned with the impact of deforestation on watersheds.110 The connection between forest cover, healthy watersheds, and agricultural productivity coincided with and was influenced in part by the work of the environmental scientists described earlier.

The claims of the forest protectionists received added credence in the aftermath of a series of serious floods in 1840 and 1843. Following a massive ecological debate about the mountain, which played on the environmental vulnerability of the state, a law was enacted in 1860, permitting the imposition of zones in mountainous areas wherein the forcible expropriation of land for the environmentalist cause was allowed. There were (p.49) a number of revolts, such as in Jarrier in Savoie and Massat in Ariège, in the face of this state enforced land alienation.111

It is important to note that peasant revolts following the enforcement of the laws passed under the Germanic forestry paradigm were rampant from the very early days. Following the passage of the 1827 National Forest Code, for example, male peasants dressed up as women and engaged in armed resistance against the forest guards in the Ariège.112 In subsequent years, protests in peripheral mountain communities of the Mediterranean Alps, the Pyrénées, Alsace, Lorraine, Franche-Comté, and Bourgogne were big enough that the army had to intervene.113

Such organized peasant protests forced the state to backtrack on the enforcement of the forest laws restricting the rights of local people, and in practice, policies on the ground were, in many cases, flexible and accommodating.114 Foresters and their supporters, however, continued to blame local inhabitants for the degradation of resources and to press for authority to intervene. Reminiscent of more recent myths of environmental profligacy, mountain people were described by professional foresters as ‘incapable of managing the mountain, preserving its soil and conserving its vegetative cover’ and as being so ‘unconscious of their own interests that they persevere in exploiting their mountains in the least advantageous manner’—a testament to their ‘inertia and deplorable egotism’.115

The reasons for deforestation and the increase in natural disasters such as flooding and avalanches lay in a complex mixture of issues. These included the break-up of traditional forest holdings due to large-scale economic transformations caused by the industrial revolution, privatization, and capitalism, and economic and demographic changes which caused the soil in these poor, isolated regions to become unstable. French foresters, however, claimed that the reason for the economic underdevel-opment and growing pauperization of the mountain regions was that the local people had wantonly caused deforestation and erosion.116 They saw themselves as the protectors of resource against the local populations and argued that the panacea for these problems was sound scientific forest management and reforestation based on state control over forest lands.


The regime of scientific forestry that originated in Europe from the middle of the eighteenth century onward had two interrelated emergent tendencies: modernizing nature, on the one hand; and emancipatory appropriation and technocracy, on the other.

2.3.1. Modernizing Nature

As the discussion in the previous section pointed out, modern forestry was a direct offshoot of new doctrines of political economy, such as cameralism, that sought to raise the quality of life of people and nations. These new doctrines, in turn, were associated with a wider philosophy of improvement and emancipation: economic betterment through efficient use of resources, it was argued, would enable the advancement of culture.117 It is important to point out here that it was not just the cameralists who supported state control of forests and their management on scientific lines. Although some free traders repudiated all state interference in forestry and even advocated the sale of the state forests, many took the opposite view and advocated state control of forest enterprises.118 The state thus emerged as the centre of calculation, the entity that planned and managed resource use for public interest.

The rationale for state involvement lay in the doctrine of the greater good. Given the wide distribution of forests and multiple claims on their products, it emerged as the mediating entity, husbanding and marshalling scarce resources, with efficiency, sustainability, and the idea of meeting the demands of the future as the core organizing principles.119 The new science of forestry, in this scheme, was an attempt to embed the processes of knowledge making and technological development that constituted the discipline within the wider goals of development and societal emancipation implicit in the emergent doctrines of political economy. The difference between modern forestry and earlier forest management practices in Germany and France was essentially one of the relationship (p.51) between science, economy, and society: the new forestry sought to systematize local knowledge in order to transcend the local, and then introduce empirical, experimental methods to iteratively improve the practice of resource management to satisfy the goals of the new political economic doctrines.

An important consequence of such developments was the secularization of nature, which was increasingly valued for its economic potential.120 An excellent illustration of this shift in values is in the entry on forests by Monsieur Le Roy, warden of the Park of Versailles, in the French Encyclopédie edited by Diderot in 1750. Le Roy wrote: ‘Our oaks no longer proffer oracles, and we no longer ask of them the sacred mistletoe; we must replace this cult by care; and whatever advantage one may previously have found in the respect that one had for forests, one can expect even more success from vigilance and economy.’121 Analyzing Le Roy’s entry, Robert Pogue Harrison writes:

In Le Roy’s article, forests are stripped of the symbolic density they may once have possessed. They are reduced to the most literal of determinations, namely ‘a great expanse of woodlands … composed of trees of all sorts.’ Le Roy never once mentions the issue of wildlife. The forest as habitat has disappeared. If habitat is not an issue for Le Roy it is because the forest has already been conceived of in terms of timber. This timber, in turn, has been conceived of in terms of its use-value. Use-value, in turn, has been linked to the concept of ‘rights’—the rights of the state, the rights of private owners, and the rights of posterity. Nowhere is there any mention of the rights of the forest’s wildlife.122

To summarize, the origins of modern continental European forestry lay in rationalism as much as in romanticism. Cameralist forestry was, however, essentially a ‘bureaucratic-scientific approach to resource management’.123 It was concerned with the production of timber and other forest products and with meeting the needs of the national economy. Its oldest branches included forest utilization, the preparation of forest working plans, silviculture, forest valuation or forest finance, and forest (p.52) protection. These branches emphasized respectively the systematization and regulation of forest use, the determination of periodical production and the regulation of yield, artificial forest regeneration, the valuing of forest products, and the protection of forests from human beings as well as naturally destructive phenomena such as insect attacks and fungi.

2.3.2. Emancipatory Appropriation and Technocracy

The new economy, however, had important implications for human society and community, as it did for nature. At the outset, the discourse on emancipation legitimized the abrogation of rights of local communities. Although there was considerable negotiation, in some places, between protesting peasants affected by the new legal regimes that determined forest use and state forest departments, the transformation of relationships between local communities and nature was permanent, with customary rights and traditional use practices construed as backward and thereby needing to be extinguished.124 It is useful here to quote Karl Marx’s astute observation on forest law and local communities, albeit in the mid nineteenth century. Marx wrote:

We demand for the poor a customary right, and indeed one which is not of a local character but is a customary right of the poor in all countries. We go still further and maintain that a customary right by its very nature can only be a right of this lowest, propertyless and elemental mass.125

Along with the emergence of new legal regimes abrogating customary rights came another important trend—the rise of what Timothy Mitchell has called ‘Rule of Experts’.126 Technocracy, in turn, brought with it a linear view of history. Thus, while modern forestry practices were considered legitimate, the efficacy of the management systems of peasant communities, or, indeed, of landlords who engaged in traditional methods of cultivation and harvest, was denied. An excellent illustration of such (p.53) a dismissal is Bernard Fernow’s comments on traditional French forestry, wherein he stated summarily that ‘there was very little forestry of note done in France in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries due to war and unrest’.127 Technocracy thus spawned a particularly imperial environmentalism, one that privileged a modern view of sustainability and conservation over previous constellations of co-produced relationships between nature, science, and community in significantly different, but arguably legitimate ways.


The emergence of modern scientific forestry engendered a new relationship between humanity and the rest of nature. The basis of this relationship was a set of doctrines that emerged from the new formal studies of ‘the economy’, which, as Colin Duncan has pointed out, ‘was born at the same time as capitalism, along with its other siblings in the same litter, industrialism and modernity’.128 If the essence of modernism was ‘the notion of human interdependence above and beyond the ties of kinship and acquaintanceship’, or as the state in which? society is modern to the extent that its households consume little of what they themselves produce and produce little of what they themselves consume,’129 the new forestry was modern in that it sought to break ties between communities and forests at the ‘local’ levels, and created regimes of what is perhaps best described as ‘nature at a distance’.130

Put differently, the new relationship between humanity and the rest of nature was, in effect, a contract with nature. It consisted, in essence, of a quid pro quo—conservation, in exchange for sustained, long-term yield. In both Germany and France by the first part of the nineteenth century, forests therefore began to be regarded as territories specially important for the economic vitality of the country as a whole and a legitimate subject for state intervention. Forests thereby became a part of the national infrastructure, a state resource.

This system had no place for local forest inhabitants in forest management. Local knowledge systems were consequently discredited and replaced with an approach that was based on long-term biological cycles (p.54) that suited the nation’s economic and especially industrial needs. The underlying philosophy was to restrict access to forests, subsidize private landowner replantations, take over and replant communal mountain lands, and implement an intensive agricultural policy. In moving towards this, foresters, as scientific experts, increasingly sought and got control over policy making on forest resource use. They were supported by other sections of the national elite, including members of the artistic community, who argued for forest conservation for aesthetic reasons.131 Decision making thus moved from the local to the national level and was made by a domain of experts trained in elite schools.132

To return to the introduction, Schlich’s description of the importance of forests and forestry was a summary of an entire tradition of post-enlightenment attitudes to nature. Moreover, as a result of the indoctrination provided by Schlich and his colleagues, the British Empire came to acquire a corps of environmental technocrats, with an outlook very similar to their continental counterparts. The coming chapters examine their attempts at pressing forth their agenda across the vast expanse of the British Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


(1) W. Schlich, A Manual of Forestry, i (London, 1889), 13.

(2) For more on Schlich, read Chapter 3.

(3) Such ideas are usually linked in this literature with Bacon and Descartes, among others. See e.g. C. Merchant, The Death of Nature (San Francisco, 1990); D. Worster, Nature’s Economy: The Roots of Ecology (Cambridge, 1977); J. Bajaj, ‘Francis Bacon, the First Philosopher of Modern Science: A Non-Western View’, in Nandy (ed.), Science, Hegemony and Violence; Shiva, Staying Alive; Henryk Skolimowski, Eco-Philosophy (New York, 1981).

(4) Glacken, Traces on the Rhodesian Shore, 495.

(5) Joseph Kittredge, Forest Influences: The Effects of Woody Vegetation on Climate, Water andSoil (New York, 1948), 6.

(6) G. P. Marsh, Man and Nature (Madras, 1882); A. Reclus, The Ocean, Atmosphere, and Life: Being the Second Series ofa DescriptiveHistory of the Life of the Globe (New York, 1873); J. C. Brown, Forests andMoisture: Or the Effects of Forests on Humidity of Climate (Edinburgh, 1877); Franklin Benjamin Hough, Report on Forestry (Washington, DC, 1878–80). I owe my awareness of this body of work primarily to the writings of Clarence Glacken, on which I draw considerably in this chapter. By carefully tracing the footnotes of these authors, I came to the realization that these books were, in effect, elaborate literature surveys and thereby captured the essence of the scientific work on the environmental consequence of various anthropogenic activities that had been conducted from the mid 18th to the mid 19th centuries. The argument in this section is but a brief exposition of some of my findings. A longer paper will follow in due course.

(7) Glacken, ‘Changing Ideas of the Habitable World’, 74; C. Webster, The Great Instauration: Science, Medicine and Reform, 1626–1660 (London, 1975), 465–88, 495.

(8) Glacken, ‘Changing Ideas of the Habitable World’, 74–5.

(9) Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore, 487. It is important to note that Evelyn and Colbert were not outliers in making such arguments in the 17th century. Other, equally influential advocates included Ralph Austen, the author of Treatise of Fruit Trees (1653) and The Spiritual Use of an Orchard (1657). Moreover, there were many in Europe writing letters to governments and officials demanding urgent action aimed at forest conservation. For a particularly impressive letter dating back to 1608 in Venice, see Kittredge, Forest Influences, 6–7. On the importance of early modern Venice as a precursor to modern envir onmental policy sensibilities, see Karl Apuhn, ‘Inventing Nature: Forests, Forestry, and State Power in Renaissance Venice’, Journal of Modern History, 72 (Dec. 2000).

(10) Heske, German Forestry, 173.

(11) Ibid. 174. They were influenced in part by the writings of the ancients, especially of Theophrastus and Pliny. They were also influenced by the growing interest in climate in Europe. For an account of the impact of the climatic theories among 18th-century European scientific communities, see the discussion on the influence of John Arbuthnot and Montesquieu in Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore, 551–622.

(12) Glacken, ‘Changing Ideas of the Habitable World’, 76. See also Comte Buffon, Natural History, General and Particular… trans. William Smellie, 20 vols. (new edn., corr., enl, London, 1812).

(13) Heske, German Forestry, 173. See also F. A. L. von Burgsdorf, Forsthandbuch, 2 vols. (Berlin, 1800).

(14) J. A. Fabre, Essaisur la théorie des torrens [sic] etdes rivières … (Paris, 1797), cited in Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore, 698. An important historiographical controversy is brewing among Swiss and German historians over whether there was indeed a relationship between deforestation and torrents. Some, who deny such causal links, remark that such environmental complaints ‘served as the means for the dominant Swiss Lowlands to gain control over the mountain forests’. See, for example, Joachim Radkau, ‘Wood and Forestry in German History: In Quest of an Environmental Approach’, Environment and History, 2 (1996), 63–76 (68–9). Without getting embroiled in this debate, it is adequate, for the purposes of this section, to remark that there was a long and sustained scientific tradition that did make such claims—and that this genealogy of thought eventually formed one important strain of the emerging conservationist impulse.

(15) Fabre, Essai sur la théorie des torrens, cited in J. C. Brown, Reboisement in France: Or Records of the Replanting of the Alps, the Cevennes and the Pyrennes with Trees, Herbage and Bush, with a View to Arresting and Preventing the Destructive Consequences and Effects (London, 1878), 56. See also Glacken, ‘Changing Ideas of the Habitable World’, 77.

(16) Alexandre Surrel, Etude sur les torrents des Hautes Alpes (1841), cited in Brown, Forests and Moisture, 230. See also Glacken, ‘Changing Ideas of the Habitable World’, 77 and Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore, 698–702. Reforestation of mountains as a means of control of torrents was also practised in Japan in the 1680s. See Kittredge, Forest Influences, 8.

(17) Glacken, ‘Changing Ideas of the Habitable World’, 77.

(18) In France, the work of Fabre and Surrel was followed up by Belgrand, Belancer, Collignon, Comoy, Darcy et Bazin, Dumont, Dupit, Fargue, V. Fournié, Graeff, Krantz, Lamairesse, Malézieux, Mangon, Monestier-Savignat, Nadault de Buffon, Patriot, de Passy, Plocq, and M. A. Poirée. In Austria, the key studies were conducted by Franz von Zallinger (1778), von Arretin (1808), Franz Duile (1826), and Hagen (1826). Important among the Germans were Edmond von Berg (1844), Gustav Heyer (1852), Joseph Wessely (1853), J. van den Brinken (1854), Franz Müller (1857), andH. Berlepsch (1862). In Italy, scientific research on deforestation and torrents was conducted by Castellani-Torino (1818–19), Giuseppe Cereni-Milano (1844), Antonio Giovanni Batti Villa-Milano (1850), Pietro Caimi-Milano (1857), and G. Rosa (1861) (Brown, Reboisement in France, 129–33).

(19) For more on science and the Alps, see John F. Freeman, ‘Forest Conservancy in the Alps of Dauphiné, 1287–1870’, Forest & Conservation History, 38 (Oct. 1994), 171–80; Alan Cook, ‘Across the Alps: London and Bologna in the Eighteenth Century’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 56 (2002), 1–2.

(20) Glacken, ‘Changing Ideas of the Habitable World’, 78.

(21) Boussingault, cited in Brown, Forests and Moisture, 159–60.

(22) Kittredge, Forest Influences, 8–10. See also Marsh, Man and Nature.

(23) A. von Humboldt, Aspects of Nature in Different Lands and Different Climates: With Scientific Elucidations (Philadelphia, 1849), 232.

(24) Glacken, ‘Changing Ideas of the Habitable World’, 79. See also J. B. Boussingault, Rural Economy, in its Relations with Chemistry, Physics and Meteorology: Or Chemistry Applied to Agriculture (New York, 1845), 507.

(25) Brown, Forests and Moisture, 111.

(26) The concept ‘invisible college’ is adapted from D. Crane, Invisible Colleges: Diffusion of Knowledge in Scientific Communities (London, 1972).

(27) Hough, ‘Report upon Forestry’. The phrasing of the questions is directly from Kittredge, Forest Influences, 9. For more details, see George Perkins Marsh’s Man and Nature and John Croumbie Brown’s Forests and Moisture—which indicate that the range of scientific hypotheses connecting deforestation and climate change was, by the mid to late 19th century, extremely coherent and comprehensive. It is worth noting here that these scientific works resonated considerably in the emergent social scientific theory. For an excellent survey of the interrelations between environmental and societal relations, see Franklin Thomas, The Environmental Basis of Society: A Study in the History ofSociological Theory (New York, 1925).

(28) M. Nicolson, ‘The Development of Plant Ecology 1790–1960’, (Ph.D. thesis, University of Edinburgh, 1984), 14. Also M. Nicolson, ‘Alexander von Humboldt and the Geography of Vegetation’, in A. Cunningham and N. Jardine (eds.), Romanticism and the Sciences (Cambridge, 1990), 169–88.

(29) Nicolson, ‘The Development of Plant Ecology’, 14.

(30) R. C. Tobey, Saving the Prairies: The Life Cycle of the Founding School of American Plant Ecology, 1895–1955 (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1981), 50.

(31) Before Humboldt’s emphasis on the study of vegetation as a study of the collective phenomena of plants, the dominant botanical tradition was that of floristics.

(32) Mantel, ‘History of the International Science of Forestry’, 26.

(33) M. J. Schleiden, The Plant: A Biography (London, 1848), 306.

(34) J. F. Schouw, The Earth, Plants and Man (London, 1852).

(35) While historians of ecology (e.g. E. Cittadino, Nature as the Laboratory: Darwinian Plant Ecology in the German Empire, 1880–1900 (Cambridge, 1990); Tobey, Saving the Prairies; Nicolson, ‘The Development of Plant Ecology’) have written about the scientific contributions of the Humboldtian plant geographers, their work as botanical critics of deforestation, and thus as environmental commentators and eco-evangelists, has been totally ignored. This important gap has however been addressed in S. R. Rajan, ‘Botanists as Environmental Evangelists: Fraas, Schouw, Schleiden and the Ecological Critique of “Civilisation” ‘ (unpublished paper, 1993). See also W. R. Woodward, ‘Writings on the Philosophy of Science (Review of? Glasmacher, Fries, Apect, SchleidenList of Primary and Secondary Literature, 1789–1988)’, Isis, 84/3 (1993).

(36) Brown, Forests and Moisture, 109. The book referred to was C. Fraas, Klima und Pflanzenwelt in derZeit: Ein Beitragzur Geschichte Beider (Landshut, 1847).

(37) Glacken, ‘Changing Ideas of the Habitable World’, 79.

(38) Humboldt, Aspects of Nature.

(39) Marsh, Man and Nature, 186–8.

(40) Marsh, Man and Nature, 186–7.

(41) Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore, 551–622. Also Grove, Green Imperialism, 189–206.

(42) K. Thomas, Man and the Natural World: ChangingAttitudes in England, 1500–1800 (London, 1983), 199.

(43) Mantel, ‘History of the International Science of Forestry’, 26.

(44) Ibid. 26–7.

(45) See Michael Dettelbach, ‘Romanticism and Administration: Mining, Galvanism and Oversight in Alexander von Humboldt’s Global Physics’ Ph.D. thesis (Cambridge University, 1993); Susan Faye Cannon, ‘Humboldtian Science’, in Cannon, Science in Culture: The Early Victorian Period (New York, 1978), 73–110; Nicolson, ‘Alexander von Humboldt and the Geography of Vegetation’; Anne Margaret Macpherson, ‘The Human Geography of Alexander von Humboldt’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1971), 35–112, 153–354. It is important to note here that environmental historians such as Donald Worster are not entirely right in locating Humboldt as an ‘Arcadian’ scientist. In addition to his theoretical interests, Humboldt was actively interested in practical applications of science, especially for natural resource use: he thus attended the Freiburg School of Mines from June 1791 to March 1792 among many others to obtain practical training (Macpherson, ‘The Human Geography of Alexander von Humboldt’, 94).

(46) Fernow, A Brief History of Forestry, 101.

(47) Worster, Nature’s Economy, 27.

(48) M. Cézanne, cited in Brown, Reboisement in France, 131–2.

(49) E. Ackerkneckt, ‘George Forster, Alexander von Humboldt, and Ethnology’, Isis, 46 (June 1955), 83–95.

(50) Schleiden, The Plant: A Biography, 306–7.

(51) For a comprehensive discussion of the evolution of the dominion myth, see John Passmore, Man’s Responsibility for Nature: Ecological Problems and Western Traditions (2nd edn., New York, 1974).

(52) H. C. Recktenwald, ‘Cameralism’, in J. Eatwell et al. (eds.), The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, i. (London, 1987), 313–14.

(53) Ibid. 313. For a comprehensive discussion of the doctrines of political economy in Germany during this period, see Keith Tribe, Governing Economy: The Reformation of German Economic Discourse, 1750–1840 (Cambridge, 1988). For a short but excellent dis cussion of the relationship between cameralism and other doctrines, including physioc- racy, see Keith Tribe, ‘Cameralism and the Science of Government’, Journal of Modern History, 56/2 (June 1984), 263–84. For a wider discussion of absolutism, see Leonard Krieger, An Essay on the Theory of Enlightened Despotism (Chicago, 1975).

(54) I am greatly indebted to Henry Lowood for the upcoming description of cameralist forestry. I am particularly influenced by two of his works—H. E. Lowood, ‘The Calculating Forester: Quantification, Cameral Science, and the Emergence of Scientific Forestry Management in Germany’, in T. Frängsmyr, J. L. Heilbron, and R. E. Rider (eds.), The Quantifying Spirit in the Eighteenth Century (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1990); H. E. Lowood, ‘Patriotism, Profit, and the Promotion of Science in the German Enlightenment: The Economic and Scientific Societies, 1760–1815’ (Ph.D. thesis, Berkeley, 1987). The specific quote cited here is from Lowood, ‘The Calculating Forester’, 315–16.

(55) The word ‘Germany’ is used here to designate German-speaking Central Europe, including the German client states of the Holy Roman Empire, the Habsburg dominions, and most of the Swiss cantons.

(56) For a sophisticated and revisionist account of the wood crisis debate and the motiva tions of the various stake holders involved, see Radkau, ‘Wood and Forestry in German History: In Quest of an Environmental Approach’. See also Joachim Radkau and Ingrid Schäfer, Holz—Ein Naturstoffin der Technikgeschichte (Reinbek, 1987) and Heske, German Forestry, 18–30. The objective of the description in this section is to sketch the broad intel lectual contours of the principles of the emergent discipline of forestry. Therefore, the details of the actual practice of forest management on the ground—and the many histori cal and historiographical controversies arising therefrom—have been deliberately avoided.

(57) Fernow, A Brief History of Forestry, 83. Among the earliest such works was W. Gottfried von Moser’s Grundsätze der Forstökonomie, published in 1757. The earliest forestry school was set up by H. D. van Zanthier in the Hartz forest in 1763. (Mantel, ‘History of the International Science of Forestry’, 14.)

(58) Important among the holzgerechte Jäger were J. C. Beckmann and J.J. Büchting. The leading Kameralisten in government were J. F. Stahl, J. Pfeiffer, J. von Hazzi, and H. von Brocke, and in the universities Beckmann (who joined the University of Göttingen), J. J. Trunk, and J. H. Jung (also named Stilling) (Mantel, ‘History of the International Science of Forestry’, 30).

(59) Lowood, ‘The Calculating Forester’, 323.

(60) Ibid. 324–5. See also Heske, German Forestry, 26–30.

(61) Lowood, ‘The Calculating Forester’, 324–5; Heske, German Forestry, 26–30.

(62) Beckmann, who wrote an influential work, Anweisung zu einer pfleglichen Forstwirthschaft, in 1759, was the person who, in his 1763 work, Beyträge zur verbesserung der Forstwissenschaft, first used the word Forstwissenschaft (Fernow, A Brief History of Forestry, 87).

(63) Lowood, ‘The Calculating Forester’, 325. Also Heske, German Forestry, 30–1.

(64) Other important foresters of this genre included G. H. Werner, K. W. Hennert, J. H. L Wiesenhavern, and G. König (Mantel, ‘History of the International Science of Forestry’, 32).

(65) Lowood, ‘The Calculating Forester’, 326–8. Some of the important authors are K. C. Oettelt and J. E. Vierenklee.

(66) J. L. Heilbron, ‘Introductory Essay’, in Frängsmyr et al. (eds.), The Quantifying Spirit in the Eighteenth Century, 15.

(67) Lowood, ‘The Calculating Forester’, 329. See also Heske, German Forestry, 31.

(68) Mantel, ‘History of the International Science of Forestry’, 16.

(69) Lowood, ‘The Calculating Forester’, 330.

(70) Ibid. 331.

(71) This literature developed simultaneously in Germany and France. Important among the forest botanists were H. L. Duhamel du Monceau, J. G. Gleditch, J. F. Enderlin, F. A. L. von Burgsdorf, J. D. Reitter, F. A. J. von Wangenheim, J. M. Bechstein, and M. B. Borkhausen (Mantel, ‘History of the International Science of Forestry’, 31).

(72) Ibid. 16.

(73) Lowood, ‘The Calculating Forester’, 337–40.

(74) Lowood, ‘The Calculating Forester’, 339–40.

(75) Ibid. 335–7.

(76) Ibid. 333.

(77) Ibid. 334.

(78) Ibid. 333–5.

(79) Ibid. 340–1.

(80) Ibid. 319.

(81) Heske, German Forestry, 244.

(82) Ibid.

(83) Heske, German Forestry.

(84) Ibid.

(85) Fernow, A Brief History ofForestry, 52–3.

(86) Schlich, A Manual of Forestry, i, 2–3.

(87) I am particularly indebted to Pincetl, ‘Some Origins of French Environmentalism for the discussion of French forestry. For this particular point, see p. 81. See also Fernow, A Brief History of Forestry, 215–18 and Glacken, Traces on theRhodian Shore, 491–4.

(88) Mantel, ‘History of the International Science of Forestry’, 23.

(89) Ibid.

(90) Pincetl, ‘Some Origins of French Environmentalism’, 81. For the wider context underlying Colbert’s policies, see G. G. Meynell. The French Academy of Sciences, 1666–91: A Reassessment of the French Académie Royale des Sciences under Colbert (1666–83) andLouvois (1683–91) (Dover, 2002) and David S. Lux, ‘Colbert’s Plan for the “Grande Académie”: Royal Policy toward Science, 1663–1667’, Seventeenth-Century French Studies, 12 (1990), 177–88.

(91) Mantel, ‘History of the International Science of Forestry’, 24.

(92) Ibid. See also G. Vaggi, ‘Physiocrats’, in J. Eatwell et al. (eds.), The New Palgrave: Dictionary of Economics, iii (London, 1987), 869–76.

(93) Mantel, ‘History of the International Science of Forestry’, 24.

(94) Pincetl, ‘Some Origins of French Environmentalism’, 81.

(95) Fernow, A Brief History of Forestry, 209.

(96) Pincetl, ‘Some Origins of French Environmentalism’, 82.

(97) These schools were established by Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 19th century.

(98) Pincetl, ‘Some Origins of French Environmentalism’, 84. See also Lowood, ‘Patriotism, Profit, and the Promotion of Science in the German Enlightenment’, 10.

(99) Pincetl, ‘Some Origins of French Environmentalism’, 82. Fernow, A Brief History of Forestry, 210.

(100) Instruction at Nancy under Lorentz was based on the principles advocated by Hartig. Again, Parade had studied under von Cotta in Tharandt (Mantel, ‘History of the International Science of Forestry’, 27). See also Pincetl, ‘Some Origins of French Environmentalism’, 83.

(101) Mantel, ‘History of the International Science of Forestry’, 26.

(102) Lorentz and his successors, however, had to fight hard against several local uprisings and against many who did not agree with their forest agendas. In 1839, Lorentz drew tremendous fire when he advocated a system of regeneration under shelterwood to replace the coppice and selection forest. Parade, the successor of Lorentz, was in trouble for the same reason and in 1847 was attacked in the legislature so severely that it threatened the collapse of the school. The condition lasted until Parade’s death, in 1864, when Nanquette assumed guidance of the school. The latter was less radical, but did not escape criticism, nor did his successor, Puton. Fernow, A History of Forestry, 242–3, 244, 245.

(103) Pincetl, ‘Some Origins of French Environmentalism’, 83.

(104) Ibid. 82.

(105) Ibid.

(106) Pincetl, ‘Some Origins of French Environmentalism’, 82.

(107) Tamara Whited, Forests and Peasant Politics in Modern France (New Haven, 2000). See especially chapter 2.

(108) Richard Drayton, ‘The Myth of the Environmentally Profligate Native.’ Seminar Presentation, Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, 1992.

(109) Pincetl, ‘Some Origins of French Environmentalism’, 82. See also Whited, Forests and Peasant Politics.

(110) Mantel, ‘History of the International Science of Forestry’, 27–8.

(111) Whited, Forests and Peasant Politics. See especially chapters 1 and 2.

(112) Peter Sahlins, Forest Rites: The War of the Demoiselles in Nineteenth-Century France (Cambridge, Mass., 1994).

(113) Pincetl, ‘Some Origins of French Environmentalism’, 82.

(114) Whited, Forests and Peasant Politics. See especially chapters 1 and 2.

(115) Pincetl, ‘Some Origins of French Environmentalism’, 82.

(116) Ibid. 83.

(117) For an excellent analysis, see Richard Carl Bowler, Bildung, Bureaucracy, and Political Economy: Karl Heinrich Rau and the Development of German Economics (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1996).

(118) Heske, German Forestry, 26.

(119) The idea of sustainability, in this context, was fundamentally about judicious resource use, aiming to ensure the availability of forest products into the indefinite future.

(120) For an excellent discussion of the relationship between the emergent doctrines of political economy and the instrumental valuation of nature, see R. Andre Wakefield, ‘The Apostles of Good Police: Science, Cameralism and the Culture of Administration in Central Europe, 1656–1800’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of Chicago, 1999). See also E. C. Spary, Utopia’s Garden: French Natural History from Old Regime to Revolution (Chicago, 2000).

(121) Robert Pogue Harrison, Forests: The Shadow of Civilization (Chicago 1993), 115–16.

(122) Harrison, Forests, 121.

(123) Lowood, ‘Patriotism, Profit, and the Promotion of Science in the German Enlightenment’, 278.

(124) To make one speculative point here, it is worth investigating whether and to what extent the biases held by foresters against the practices of agrarian communities and, espe cially, against mountain dwellers was akin to that described by Michael Hecter in Internal Colonialism: The Celtic Fringe in British National development, 1536–1966 (London, 1975).

(125) Karl Marx, ‘Debates on the Law on Thefts of Wood,’ Supplement to the Rheinische Zeitung, 298, 300, 303, 305, 307, (25, 27, 30 Oct., 1, 3 Nov. 1842), trans. by Clemens Dutt. It is important to note, however, that while Marx was sensitive to the impact of for est laws on peasant communities, the target of his ire was private forest owners, as opposed to the state.

(126) Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity (Berkeley and Los Angles, 2002).

(127) Fernow, A History of Forestry, 214.

(128) Colin Duncan, The Centrality of Agriculture: Between Humanity and the Rest of Nature (Montreal, 1996).

(129) Ibid. 26.

(130) Ibid. 26–7.

(131) Pincetl, ‘Some Origins of French Environmentalism’, 82. See also p. 89. Important among those who supported foresters were the impressionist painters Théodore Rousseau and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, who founded the Société des Amis de la Forêt.

(132) Pincetl, ‘Some Origins of French Environmentalism’, 84–6.