Forest Conservation and Management Practices among the Ahom rulers of Pre-Colonial Assam: An Historical Assessment

By Srijani Bhattacharjee

Variances in administrative sanctions over nature under pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial regimes have been the subject matter of enquiry in the discourses of environmental history. It is usually estimated that with the establishment of colonial power in India, state intervention over nature have multiplied leading to interference in the flora, fauna and indigenous rights of the forest based communities. The contrary argument put against this is that the traditional societies maintained a balanced approach towards nature with nominal intrusion of the state. This paper attempts to analyse the role of the traditional rulers in administering nature by maintaining a balance between state forest policies and indigenous forest rights. For our study we have taken the Ahom rulers of Assam and their endeavours of forest conservation and management over the region. The Ahom monarchs ruled over Assam from the 13th century till the initiation of British administration over the territory. The study intends to find out the extent of floral and faunal use in the region under the Ahom state, state policies towards forests and neighbouring tribes and the royal approach towards the fauna of the region.

Keywords: Conservation, Management, Forest use, Ahom, Assam, Nature.

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