Climate-data Records and Reforestation Efforts in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Coromandel Region in Peninsular India

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Efforts to establish 'new' forests and record climate data by German and Scottish residents in the Coromandel region in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries appear conspicuously in the pages of vegetation history of peninsular India, because forest-based industries and economies in India, at that point of time, were of far less significance. This note brings to light the contributions of three European residents in the Presidency of Madras: a German missionary J E Geister (also referred in literature as G E Geisler) and Scottish surgeons W Roxburgh and E G Balfour. Geister and Roxburgh have documented weather data of reasonable accuracy with limited equipment. Roxburgh with a focus on 'utilitarian conservation' made efforts to revegetate the semi-arid land stretches with drought-resistant and water-efficient plants. Balfour introduced scientific methods in promoting forest conservation and reforestation. Roxburgh's attempts to record climate data and to revegetate parts of the Coromandel (the northern Circars) have been influenced by the thoughts of Stephen Hales and Duhamel du Monceau of the eighteenth century. Balfour's interest in proposing reforestation models in peninsular India was triggered by Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, an engineer in Mauritius, and also by the thoughts of Jean-Baptiste Boussingault of the nineteenth century. Further to noting the contributions of the three people, this note also includes a brief notation to climate in the Presidency of Madras, which constituted the bulk of peninsular India of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and what consequences those climate ramifications had on the social dynamics, thus setting the context for the climate-data records made by Geister and Roxburgh and the reforestation efforts by Roxburgh and Balfour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-287
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Ecology and Environmental Sciences
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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