The Forest Research Institute in Dehra Dun is an interesting place. With six museums to visit, there can never be a dull moment.

The Forest Research Institute was established in 1906 as the erstwhile Imperial Forest Research Institute, in Dehra Dun. It was around this time that scientific forestry began to develop in the Indian subcontinent. Today this Institute is responsible for the forestry research needs of most of the states of Northern India. “Apart from being a research and educational institution, the FRI has a herbarium, an arboreta, printing press and a well stocked library. There are six museums within the main building, which are open to visitors through the week. These museums highlight the various uses of forests and how we benefit from them,” says Dr Veena Chandra, Head of the Botany Department, FRI.

On show

In the Social Forestry museum pictures and models emphasising the role of trees in meeting the economic needs of people is highlighted. The disastrous consequences of soil erosion, floods and famine are exhibited here. At the Silviculture museum are logging tools, machines used for extraction and transportation of timber and cultural operations adopted for maintaining forest crop. The Pathology museum highlights the various diseases that are found in forest trees.

Did you know that there is huge wealth that forests offer apart from timber? On display at FRI are non-wood forest products such as essential oils, fatty oils, gums and resins, drugs and spices, bamboo and cane, tans and dyes, edible products, fibres and flosses, animal products and minerals, housed in a separate section. The Entomology museum contains more than 3,000 exhibits of forest insects and the various stages of damage to trees by forest insect pests. The most impressive is the Timber Museum. Exhibits have been collected and developed here for over half a century. Along the wall polished and unpolished panels of 126 commercially important species of wood are displayed, along with a picture of the tree and a map of India showing the distribution of the species in India.

Closed on Sundays and National holidays, one can visit the museums on any working day of the week.

The old deodar tree

The centre of attraction in the Timber museum is the transverse section of a 700 years old deodar tree (Cedrus deodara). “This tree was felled in 1919 from the hills of UP. The annual rings clearly show the natural and climatic events during the lifetime of the tree,” says Ms. Santosh, in charge of the printing and photography section at the FRI. There is also on display, a transverse section of a 300 year old teak (Tectona grandis).

How to…

In the early times, man made pencils using Cyprus wood. The method of making these pencils has been displayed.