Forest Based Industries




  • India is very rich in forest resources, with a large area under forest. All kinds of trees are found here varying from the deciduous, tropical hardwood trees to the evergreen and coniferous trees.


  • Trees provide one with a wide range of products. From paper to paints, chemicals, housing and furniture, they are a source of many materials. India’s forest industry basically can be divided into two major areas: the paper and pulp industry and the wood industry.


  • Paper Industry
  • The first effort to produce paper by modern techniques was done in 1816 in Tanjavur (Tamil Nadu). It was unsuccessful. The first successful paper mill was set up in 1879 in Lucknow. Again, in 1881, paper mills were set up in Titagarh (West Bengal). It is considered the beginning of modern paper industry.  Paper industry is a weight-losing industry. About two and half tons raw materials are needed for making one ton paper. So, the localization of this industry is mainly in the areas of raw materials. The following raw materials are used in making paper in India
  • Soft wood-In India, soft wood (of coniferous trees) is obtained from the Himalayan region. Seven per cent of the total raw materials used in the paper industry in India is obtained from soft wood.
  • Bamboo-Bamboo is the mostly used raw material for making paper in India. 70% raw material for paper industry is obtained from bamboo.  Karnataka is the largest producer of bamboo followed by Assam.
  • Sabai grass-Sabai grass provides 15% raw material. The best quality paper is produced from its fibres. Madhya Pradesh is the largest producer of sabai grass. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are other major sabai grass producing states.
  • Bagasse-It is a sugarcane residual part. 7% pulp for paper industry is obtained, from bagasse. Industrial paper, hard board paper, packing paper etc are made from it.
  • Rags-Pulp is also made from wastepaper and rags. It is used to make handmade paper. India is foremost in production of handmade paper. India also exports it. This paper is used in making university certificates. Asia’s largest handmade paper mill is in Puducherry.
  • Besides rags, straw of paddy, wheat and maize is also used in making paper


  • Match Industries:
  • Match wood industry is one of the oldest wood based industries in India. About 75 per cent of the total match wood industries in the country are located in the state of Tamil Nadu which comprises nearly 6,000 match industries with mechanized, semi mechanized and as cottage industry. The per capita consumption of matches in India increased steadily from 2.45 kg (1970) to 4.25 kg (1987).


  • The current per capita consumption rose to 6.0 kg which is more staggering. The increasing demand for the matches coupled with declining wood resources is a major bottle neck faced by the entire match industries in India including the ancillary splint and veneer industries. In fact, there was a short fall of 9,00,000 m3in the year 2000. The veneer quality wood for match boxes, which accounts for 44 per cent of match wood used, is also in short supply.


Major Matchwood Species:

  • Ailanthus excelsa
  • Albizia falcataria
  • Alianthus triphysa
  • Albizia lebbeck
  • Anthocephalus cadamba
  • Erythrina indica
  • Populus spp.


  • Silk Industry

There are two stages in silk industry:

  • Sericulture and obtaining of silk fibres
  • Production of silk textile from silk fibres (silk textile industry)
  • Sericulture:It is completely forest based industry. Sericulture is done mainly on the mulberry trees. Besides it, sericulture is also done on the trees ‘like oak, mahua, castor, sal, plum, kusum etc. More than half of the total silk production in the country is done in Karnataka alone. Other major silk producing states are West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir, Odisha, Madhya  Pradesh, Jharkhand etc.  Several kinds of silk are produced in India:
    • Mulberry silk-Silk made by sericulture on mulberry trees. It is the best kind of silk. 85% of the silk produced in the country is mulberry silk. It is produced in Karnataka (Bengaluru, Mysore, Kolar and Tumkur  districts), West Bengal (Bankura, Murshidabad, Midnapur and Burdwan  districts), Jammu & Kashmir and Assam.
    • Muga silk-It is also produced by sericulture done on the mulberry leaves. Its production is mostly done in Assam, West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir.
    • Tasar silk-It is produced by sericulture done on the wild mulberry trees. The major tasar silk producing states are Jharkhand, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.
    • Eri silk-It is produced by sericulture done on the leaves of castor. It is a low quality silk.
  • Silk Textile Industry:

 It is indirectly a forest based industry. There are three tendencies of its localisation (in the country):

  • Raw materials based centres-Mysore, Bengaluru, Coimbatore and Srinagar.
  • Demand based centres in religious places (market based centres)-Varanasi, Tirupati, Madurai, Kanjivaram.
  • Industries set up at commercial or collection centres- Bhagalpur (Bihar), Erode and Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Mumbai.

Karnataka is the largest producer of silk fibres in India. About half of the silk fibres in the country are produced by Karnataka alone.


v  Timber and Sawn Wood Industries:

  • Traditionally people in the country predominantly use timber and other converted wood in all their domestic and industrial wood requirement. The rapid population growth, urbanization and industrialization resulted in greater usage of wood in furniture, housing and construction material. During, 2010-2012 more than 500 million square feet of space is estimated to be built in urban areas of the country and the wood products were valued around US Dollar 3 billion.


  • With greater usage wood as a predominant material for housing and construction material in urban and semi urban areas there is going to be a great demand for timber and other sawn wood requirement. The Indian furniture market is estimated at 8 billion US Dollar and in most cases raw materials are imported from various countries.



v  Oil and Biodiesel Industries:

  • The demand for edible and non-edible oil is continuously on the rise due to industrial and economic development. But there is no concomitant effort to augment the production potential of oil seeds in the country. This resulted in a massive import of nearly 46 per cent of edible oil till the recent past thus claiming huge amount of country’s exchequer. Similarly the crude oil requirement in the country is also increasing due to development in transport and industrial sector.
  • Till the recent past the consumption of crude oil was about 184.68 million tones and the rate energy consumption is increasing at the rate of 6.5 per cent per annum. India’s share of crude oil production is about one per cent of total world crude oil production while in consumption its share is about 3.1 per cent of total world consumption which necessitated massive imports of crude oil.


  • The import of crude oil has increased from 63 per cent in 1971-1980 to nearly about 80 per cent in 2007-2008 which is an alarming issue for the country and warrants development of alternate renewable resources. Under such circumstances, efforts have been taken by various departments of Government of India to promote non edible oil seeds in the country to augment the vegetable oil feed stock to generate biofuel.


  • Simultaneously large number of private sector oil and biodiesel production industries has been established across the country but for want of sustainable raw material resource availability these industries are under great threat. This facilitated promotion of tree borne oil seeds across the country and their inclusion under farm and agroforestry system.


v  Plywood Industries:

  • One of the fastest growing in India is the plywood industry. The industrialization and urbanization and the increased interest on interior decorations have made great usage of plywood in the country. Wide range of species have been found amenable for making face, core and inner veneers resulted in establishment of more than 2,000 small scale industries involved in plywood manufacture.


  • The liberalization and privatization policy of government of India also significantly contributed towards establishment of new rural industries. These industries also depend heavily on various species which thereby attracted large scale promotion of plywood based industrial wood plantations.



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