“And a new day will dawn for those who stand long, And the forests will echo with laughter.” -Led Zeppelin
India is the home to some of the most indigenous forests in the world. We take pride in our culture that features wildlife as one of it’s most powerful asset. Consequently, to protect and preserve the beauty and heritage of such a varied flora and fauna there has to be an authoritative body which could work to maintain and improve it. That authority in India is the India Forest Service or IFS.
Indian Forest Services is one of the civil services of India and belongs to the All India Services group. Its cadre controlling authority is the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate change.
India’s diverse vegetation and wildlife make it one of the first countries in the world to introduce scientific first management, dating as far back as 1864 during the British rule. More than 19% of India is covered by forests.
What does an IFS officer do?
The main mandate of an officer of the Indian Forest Services is the implementation of the National Forest Policy which aims to ensure environmental stability and maintenance of ecological balance. By this, we mean that the officer of respective states and cadres ensure the safety and rising environmental concerns of that particular area. The job responsibilities of IFS officers include the conservation of both plants and animals of a given region.
IFS officers, when posted in the field, work for conservation, protection, and development of forests and wildlife, along with an aim to enhance livelihood opportunities of forest-dependent communities of rural and tribal areas.
Just like all other parts of the world, our nation is home to certain specific breeds of plants and animals that are uniquely found here only. Thereby, the work of an IFS officer is to ensure that these plants and animals can stay, grow, and remain in the habitat that nature has secured for them. Any sort of a problem that occurs in the way of their habitation is the work and responsibility of the Indian Forest Service officers.
IFS officers often have to deal with both natural and manmade calamities that endanger the lives and habitats of wildlife.
Examples of Natural and Manmade Calamities
- Forest fires
- Hunting and poaching of animals
- Violent human and animal encounters
- Breed vulnerability, etc.
Eligibility criteria to become an IFS officer
+2: Have to graduate in any stream
Bachelor’s Degree: Bachelor of Arts
Master’s Degree: Master of Arts
Indian Forest Service (IFS) as a part of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)
The Indian Forest Service is one of the civil services of India and comes under the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) along with three other all-India services i.e., Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and Indian Police Service (IPS). Candidates aspiring to opt for the IFS can make the choice at the time of selection and secure a position for themselves.
The standard requirement for applicants planning to take the civil services exam is a graduate level degree in any subject. However, with the aid of civil service applicants, a lot of coaching institutes have surfaced over the years to prepare students that are planning on appearing for civil services.
These institutes train and familiarise applicants with the various patterns of the civil services examination through exercise, tests, lectures, etc. Apart from these, there are textual guides available in the market that help provide a holistic experience of the examination.
The civil services examination is divided into three parts
- Personality Test
Having cleared the three hurdles, applicants are trained at the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy for a period of about two years. Here they are further polished for the responsibilities that await them after the completion of their training.
Eligibility criteria for taking the UPSC Examination
- One has to be the citizen of India.
- One has to be 21 years of age.
- One has to have pass intermediate.
- One has to obtain a degree from central, state or recognized university.
Besides these eligibility criteria, a person can only take the exam until the age of 32. The number of attempts for general candidates is a total of 6, while other backward class(OBC) candidates can take it up to 9 times, whereas there is no restriction for scheduled caste(SC) candidates, whatsoever.
A day in the life of an IFS officer
Hi, I’m an officer under the Indian Forest Services and my post is of the Division Forest Office. I administer the forests of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, protecting and preserving it from the dangers that may lurk about.
For my job I often have to travel into the most remote areas of human civilization inside the country. But at the same time, I also have the luxury of residing as a state guest at the most luxurious accommodations in the most dreamy sceneries that the nature in India has to offer.
Overall, I wouldn’t exactly describe my job as ‘easy’ or ‘difficult’. A lot of its nature depends upon how you can cope with the work and how dedicatedly you perform your duties. Let’s take a quick look at how I spend a regular day.
8:30 AM: Before I leave for work I do a bit of exercise and when I’m famished by it my cook comes to my rescue with a delightful breakfast at the Forest Rest House I’m staying in. Just what I need before I start my day.
9:30 AM: We’ll be starting the day later than usual. As I’m posted in the field, there is a lot to explore and learn in these woods. If you love to be with nature and enjoy its eternal beauty, this job is for you. Being an avid wildlife photographer, I love the access I have as a Divisional Forest Officer.
The issue that we are addressing is the conservation of Sarus Cranes. The Sarus Crane is a specific breed found in India but it has been drifting towards vulnerability in the last two years.
The state ministry is organizing a seminar on the conservation of these beautiful birds and we need to do the groundwork like understanding their habitats in this area, their mating seasons, and other challenges that they’re facing for survival.
11:30 AM: We’re out here in the open marshes where these beautiful birds are often seen minding their own business. We do not want to disturb them and so my team of forest rangers and I will observe from here itself.
Being in the thick of forests, we have to be careful as we frequently come across dangerous wildlife. During our training, we are given exhaustive instructions about their activities, and what to do when faced with them.
However, the current animal facing me is fairly harmless. One of the issues surfacing the about the recent deaths or Sarus Cranes is their conflict with humans. A lot of farmers have been reported as Sarus killers.
Despite the forest’s many challenges, as an IFS officer, my biggest tiff is often with the locals. Apart from the known illegal activities of poaching and felling of protected trees which our officers have to constantly check on, one of the biggest everyday challenges is to prevent encroachment of the forest land.
In this situation as well, I will have to have another difficult conversation with the local tribal people.
2:00 PM: We did some extensive research and the locals were helpful. Since I was already there, they also brought up their own complaints of wild animals entering their human settlements.
Panthers, tigers, lions and other wild animals often cross the wild zone to adjoining villages and agricultural areas. They will attack the domestic cattle and also human life. Here I have to become chief negotiator and peace-maker and emphasize the importance of co-existence without endangering any particular side.
3:00 PM: I sit down for some lunch
5:00 PM: We’re ending our excavation for the day now. The light’s fading now and it’s not a suitable time to track birds any longer. I’m heading back to my quarter to prepare some documents on the prevalent dangers for the birds that will aid us at the time of organizing the seminar.
7:00 PM: I’m done for the day and am now retiring for dinner, after which I shall be tucked in bed with comfort and Charles Dickens. Perfect closure!
Are you an avid lover of nature? If yes, then this profession could be for you. We hope this article has added something valuable to your research about this profession. Have your say in the comment box below. Enjoy Reading!