FRI Deemed University Completes 27 Years of its Existence

The Forest Research Institute (FRI) has completed twenty-seven years of being a deemed university. It was recognized as a deemed university on December 6, 1991 by the UGC. Recognized by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), this institute is associated with the evolution and development of scientific forestry not only in the country but in the entire Indian sub-continent. Known the world over for its impressive Greco-Roman and colonial style of architecture, the FRI offers masters and post-graduate diploma programmes in subjects of forestry, environment management, wood science & technology, and cellulose & paper technology. However, the crowning glory of FRI is undoubtedly the diversified research divisions (comprising equipped laboratories, library, herbarium, arboreta, printing press and experimental field areas) and training facility for the Indian Forest Service (IFS). The Forest Research Institute campus hosts the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (IGNFA), the staff college that trains officers selected for the Indian Forest Service (IFS). The FRI was first called the Imperial Forest Research Institute (IFRI) and shifted two buildings between 1906 and 1928, settling finally at the New Forest Campus in 1929 where it is still located. Laboratory research in forestry started in 1878 in the small chemical laboratory attached to the Forest School in Dehra Dun. A beginning to organise forestry research was at last made in 1906 with the establishment of the FRI in Dehra Dun. Built over a lush green estate spread over 450 hectares, with the outer Himalaya forming its backdrop, the institute’s main building is an impressive edifice, marrying Greco-Roman and Colonial styles of architecture, with a plinth area of 2.5 hectares. The institute has a developed infrastructure of all equipped laboratories, library, herbarium, arboreta, printing press and experimental field areas for conducting forestry research, quite in keeping with the best of its kind anywhere in the world. It is interesting to know that the FRI and the Doon School, both synonymous with the Doon valley, share a close connection. The Doon School was set up as the realisation of a dream of Satish Ranjan Das, one of pre-independent India’s most eminent barristers and a member of the Executive Council of the Viceroy of India. With support from a wide range of eminent Indians of that time, the Indian Public Schools Society was registered as a non-profit making body under the Indian Companies Act in 1929. Unfortunately, SR Das passed away in 1928. Thereafter, his wife and friends collected funds to start the school in September 1935. The society was fortunate to be able to take over the Chand Bagh Estate in Dehradun from the Indian Forest College and to acquire the neighbouring Skinners’ Estate from the family of the well known Col Skinner of Skinner’s Horse. In 1926, the forest institute shifted from Chand Bagh to its present location. The building was completed and formally inaugurated in 1929. Over the years, the FRI has remoulded its priorities to the contemporary need of the times. This remoulding culminated into the formation of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) in 1986. The FRI actually began as a small forest school in Dehra Dun in 1878 to impart training to the forest rangers. This school, which was taken over by the Central Government in 1884 and named the Imperial Forest School, formed the nucleus of the present FRI. By the beginning of the 20th century, the school became an institution with a fine museum, herbarium collections, labs and an instructive arboretum. In 1906, research departments were added to the school and it was designated as the Imperial Forest Research Institute and College. The vast and imposing corridors of the beautiful building echo with the valuable observations made by the pioneer forest officers during their tours in the far-flung forests of India. Their informal and frequent forays into the domain of scientific forestry provided the foundation on which the edifice of forestry research has been built. There are seven museums situated in the main building namely timber museum, minor forest product museum, entomology museum, silviculture museum, social forestry museum and pathology museum. Looking at the FRI building and the immense work that has gone on at the institute for the last one century, it is no surprise that the Doon valley is known the world over as “the Cradle of Indian Forestry.” Twenty-seven years of being a deemed university has enhanced the glory and historical importance of this institute that draws scientists, foresters and tourist from all over the world. Read more posts… Thursday, 20 December 2018 | JASKIRAN CHOPRA | Dehradun

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