India is one of the First countries in the world to have stated scientific management of its forests. During the year 1864 the then British India Government started the Imperial Forest Department and appointed Dr. Dietrich Brandis, a German Forest officer Inspector General of Forests in 1866. Having recognized the need to have a premier forest service to mange the varied natural resources of the vast country and to organize the affairs of the Imperial Forest Department, Imperial Forest Service was constituted in 1867.

Having realized the importance of a multi-tier forest Administration in the federal and provincial Governments for effective management of forest resources the British India Government also constituted Provincial Forest Service and Executive & Subordinate Services, which were quite similar to the present day forest administrative hierarchy.

The officers appointed to the Imperial Forest Service from 1867 to 1885 were trained in France and Germany. Thereafter, until 1905 they were trained at Coopers Hill, London, which had been one of the prestigious professional colleges of Forestry at that time. From 1905 to 1926 the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh had undertaken the task of training the officers of the Imperial Forest Service. The Imperial Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun, presently & popularly known all over the world as FRI was established at Dehra Dun in the year 1906. The baton to train the IFS officers was passed on to Forest Research Institute, which it did successfully from 1927 to 1932. Subsequently the Indian Forest College (IFC) was established in the year 1938 at Dehra Dun and the officers recruited to the Superior Forest Service by the provinces/states were trained there.

The subject of "Forestry" which was managed by the Federal Government until then, was transferred to the "Provincial List" by the Government of India Act, 1935 and subsequently recruitment to the Imperial Forest Service was discontinued.

The Indian Forest Service, one of the three All India Services, was constituted in the year 1966 under the All India Services Act, 1951 by the Government of India.

The main mandate of the service is the implementation of the National Forest Policy which envisages scientific management of forests and to exploit them on a sustained basis for primary timber products, among other things. Since 1935 the management of the forests remained in the hands of the Provincial Governments and even today the Forest Departments are managing the forests of the country under the respective State governments.

Organisation of the Service

The initial constitution of the Indian Forest Service consisted of the four following categories of the officers

  1. Initial Recruits (IR);
  2. Emergency Commissioned/Short Service Commissioned (EC/SSC)
  3. Direct Recruits also known as Regular Recruits (DR/RRs); and
  4. Promotees (appointed from State Forest Service.

Initial Recruits: With the constitution of the Service, the serving members of the State Forest Service borne on various State Governments and Union Territory Administrations were inducted into the Service and they had been accordingly designated as "Initial Recruits" to the Service. All members under the "IR" category have since retired on superannuation.

Emergency Commissioned/Short Service Commissioned : 20% of the permanent vacancies in the Indian Forest Service were filled by Direct Recruitment from the released "Emergency Commissioned" (EC) officers and "Short Service Commissioned" (SSC) officers and they were designated as ECs/SSCs and it continued till 28th January 1971. The last of the EC/SSC officers would superannuate from the service by 2006.

Direct Recruits: 66.33 per cent of the cadre strength of the service is filled by Direct Recruitment done through the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) by conducting an all India level competitive examination open to graduates with science background. After qualifying the written examination, the candidates have to appear for a personality test, a walking test and a standard medical fitness test.

Promotees: 33.33 per cent of the cadre strength of the service, as per the regulations, is to be filled by appointing eligible officers of the State Forest Service to IFS. Vacancies under promotion quota are determined by calculating 33.33% of the total Senior Duty Posts in the Cadre in addition to Central Deputation Reserve posts, State Deputation Reserve posts and Training Reserve.

Composition: The Indian Forest Service, by virtue of being the youngest of the three All India Services, also happens to be the smallest. The total authorised cadre strength of the Indian Forest Service as on date is 3157 which includes 2200 Direct Recruit and 957 Promotion posts. The total Senior Duty Posts (SDP) in the Indian Forest Service are 1921 and the remaining under various reserves.
Senior Duty Posts   1939  
Central Deputation Reserve @ 20% 378    
State Deputation Reserve @ 25% 474    
Training Reserve @ 3.5% 59    
Leave and Junior Reserve @16.5% 307    
Total Reserve Posts   1218  
Total Cadre Strength     3157

Direct Recruit Posts 2200  
Promotion posts 957  
Total Authorised Strength   3157

Cadres: The Service consists of 26 State Cadres including Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territories (AGMUT). Every State/Joint cadre has a fixed strength of posts in various grades known as Senior Duty Posts (SDP). Details of distribution of strength of officers in various cadres may be accessed by clicking here.

As per the relevant regulations in force, the strength and composition of the service in each and every State/Joint cadre is to be reviewed at 5 yearly interval by the Cadre Review Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary who makes recommendations to the Central Government on the basis of the proposals received from the State Governments.

Cadre Authorities : In respect of the IFS officers working under the administrative control of the States, the State Governments are notified as the Cadre Authorities. Those officers allotted to the Joint cadres of Assam-Meghalaya and Manipur-Tripura, there is a Joint cadre Authority constituted by the respective State Governments under the All India Services (Joint Cadre) Rules, 1972 In respect of IFS officers of the Joint Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories (AGMUT Cadre) earlier known as UT cadre, the Ministry functions as the Cadre Authority.

As per the Allocation of Business Rules of the GoI, the subject of the Indian Forest Service is allocated to the Ministry of Environment and Forests and thus it is the Cadre Controlling Authority for the Indian Forest Service and also the Nodal Ministry and implements all Rules, Regulations made under the AIS Act in respect of the Indian Forest Service.

Designations of Senior Duty Posts: The administrative hierarchy of Indian Forest Service in the Forest Departments in the States and Union Territories is as under in the descending order:-

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests
Chief Conservator of Forests
Conservator of Forests
Deputy Conservator of Forests

On successful completion of the professional training in forestry and allied subjects at Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, Dehradun, Foundation Course at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, one year "on the job" training in the Cadre to which the IFS probationers are allotted, and on successful completion of probation period on completion of four years of service with reference to the Year of Allotment, the officers are appointed to the Senior Time Scale. On getting the Senior Time Scale the officers are entitled to be posted as Divisional Forest Officers or Deputy Conservators of Forests in charge of Forest Divisions.

Pay Structure: After the implementation of 6th Central Pay Commission recommended the pay scales of posts in the Indian Forest Service are as under.
Scale of Pay in Rs)
Garde Pay
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forestry)
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests
Chief Conservator of Forests
10000 (PB-4)
Conservator of Forests
8900 (PB-4)
Deputy Conservator of Forests (Selection Grade)
8700 (PB-4)
(Junior Administrative Grade)
7600 (PB-3)
(Senior Time Scale)
6600 (PB-3)
(Junior Time Scale)
5400 (PB-3)

Promotions: To ensure uniformity in granting higher pay scales through promotions, the GoI have issued guidelines from time to time, where in the eligibility criteria has been fixed for promotion to various grades (the same can be accessed from this web site). For details of promotions effected in various State/Joint Cadres as on 01-JAN-2017.