In 1893, Voelcker, a German agricultural scientist, submitted a report to Indian Government regarding the role of forests vis-a-vis agriculture and he stressed the need for formulating a forest policy with a definite bias for serving agricultural interests more directly than before.
Accordingly, Indian Government issued a resolution dated 19th October, 1894 regarding her policy about the management of Indian forests on scientific lines (Sagreiya, 1967).
Early work of plant ecology was of synecological nature. Troup (1921) wrote three volumes on the Silviculture of Indian Trees. Dudgeon (1921) contributed a comprehensive ecological account of the upper Gangetic plains and he employed the concept of succession in his investigations.
His concept of succession was further elaborated by Saxton (1922) but later on contradicted by one of the great Indian plant ecologist R. Misra (1946, 1958, 1959). Champion (1929, 1936, and 1938) studied the ecology of different forest types of India.
Kashyap (1932) worked out the ecology of alpine vegetation of Himalaya and Tibet. Bor (1942) investigated synecology of grasses of U.P. forests. Champion and Griffith (1948) published their report ‘Manual of General Silviculture in India’. G. S. Puri (1950) studied the distribution of conifers in Kulu Himalayas and also investigated the geology of this area.
In 1953, he studied the litter production in Dehradun forest. In 1954, he studied seasonal variations in forest flora, different forest types of India and soil climate of some Indian forests. He wrote the book—’Indian Manual of Plant Ecology’ in the coauthor ship of R. Misra in 1954. Raji (1955, 1956) made observations on the phytogeographical of the Mysore hill tops.
Arora (1960) studied the ecology of Coorg forests. Ahuja (1961) studied ecology, phyto- sociology and phytogeographical of the vegetation of the humid tropics. Shindhu (1961) worked on the ecology of the mangroves.
Gupta (1961) studied the vegetation of the catchment areas of river Ganga and Yamuna with reference to their soil and water conservation problems. Sharma (1961) worked out the ecology of the vegetation of arid zones. Homji (1962) studied the bioclimatic of India in relation to vegetation criteria.
R. Misra (1944-48) initiated comprehensive autecological studies on herbaceous plants of different habitats such as aquatic, ravines, eroded river banks and low lying areas. Misra and Rao (1948) studied autecology of Lindenbergia polyantha. Pandeya (1950, 1951) studied autecoloey of Bothriochloa pertusa and Di- chanthium annulatum.
In 1953-1967, he studied different ecological aspects of grasslands of Saear, Madhya Pradesh. Whyte et al„ (1955) published the account of different grasslands of India. Bhatia (1954) worked on the ecology of teak (Tectona grandis) forest of Madhya Pradesh.
Trivedi (1955) worked out the ecology of Sesbania bispinosa. Mall and coworkers made autecological studies of Chrozophora rottleri and Achyrathus aspera in 1956 and of Cassia tora, Cassia obtusifolia and Tridax procumbens in 1957.
Ramakrishnan (1958) studied ecotypic differentiation in some plants of Varanasi. Joshi (1958) investigated phytosociology and autecology of Anogeissus latifolia of Madhya Pradesh. Jain (1958) made phytosociological and autecological studies on sal (Shorea robusta) in Madhya Pradesh. Ramam (1961) studied the soil root relationships in grassland communities of Varanasi and in 1968; he studied certain wood land ecosystems.
A. N. Puri (1925) made a critical study of the hygroscopic coefficient of soil. Raychoudhuri (1941) studied soil profile of red soils of India. In 1966, he published his book ‘India-Land and Soil’. Upadhyaya (1955) investigated soil formation in relation to plant cover. Jenny and Raychoudhuri (1960) studied the effects of climate and cultivation on nitrogen and organic matter reserves in Indian soils.
R. N. Singh (1961) wrote a monograph on the ‘Role of Blue-Green Algae in Nitrogen Economy of Indian Agriculture’. Rao (1962) published his book ‘Soil Conservation in India’. Seth, Kaul and Gupta (1963) made some observations on nutrition cycle and return of nutrients in plantations of New Forest. J. S. Singh (1962)) studied the effect of teak plantation on soil fertility in U. P. (Gangetic alluvium). Champion and Seth (1968) published their report ‘A Revised Survey of the Forest Types of India.
Saksena (1955) worked out ecological factors governing the distribution of soil micro fungi in some forest soils of Sagar. The events of heterotrophic succession have been investigated by various workers like Khanna (1964), Yadav (1966) and Sharma (1971- 1974). Satyanarayana et al., (1977) studied seasonal variations in the mycofiora of nests of the birds like crow, house sparrow, etc.
J. S. Singh (1967, 1968) estimated above ground productivity in the grasslands at Varanasi. K. P. Singh (1968) estimated litter production and nutrient turnover in deciduous forests of Varanasi. R. Misra (1968) studied the mode of energy transfer along the terrestrial food chains and in 1969; he estimated primary productivity of terrestrial communities at Varanasi.
In 1970, he made estimation of the primary production of Chakia Forest and also made IBP/PT study of organic productivity and nutrient cycling in the monsoon forests, grassland and cropland.
Pandeya and Kurnvilla (1968) studied natural forest communities, their net biomass and status of underlying biogenic salts in Dang Forests, Gujrat. Rao, Dabral and Pandey (1972) estimated litter production in forest plantations of chir (Pinus roxiburghii), Teak (Tectona grandis), and sal (Shorea robusta) at New Forest Dehradun. Gopal (1973) made a survey of Indian studies on ecology and production of wetland and shallow water communities.