Alexander Gibson (botanist)
He was born in Kincardineshire and studied at Edinburgh. He went to India as a surgeon in the Honourable East India Company. He became a superintendent of the Dapuri botanical gardens (1838-47) under the erstwhile Bombay Presidency.
He was instrumental in the implementation of forest conservation laws under the East India Company, and he was able to systematically propagandise a forest conservation program with help from Hugh Francis Cleghorn and Edward Balfour.
The medical service in India during the late 19th century widely quoted the works of Alexander Humboldt linking deforestation, increasing aridity, and temperature change on a global scale. Several reports which spoke of large-scale deforestation and desiccation were coming up, prominent among them being the medico-topographical reports by Ranald Martin, a surgeon. In another report, Gibson wrote to Sir J. D. Hooker in 1841 that "the Deccan is more bare than Gujarat" with the ghat mountain trees disappearing fast. He requested Hooker to influence the government to control the forests in the Deccan and Konkan region. This led to the creation of the Bombay forest conservancy and Gibson was made conservator of forests. This was the first case of state management of forests in the world. He became a conservator of Bombay forests from 1847-60.
He published several works on botany and reports on forestry.
- Grove, R. H. (1997) Ecology, Climate and Empire. p72 The White House Press, UK
- Letter, Alexander Gibson to J.D. Hooker, dt 1 March 1841, Letter no. 21, India letters, Kew Archives, Richmond, Surrey
- Barton, G. A. Empire Forestry and the Origins of Environmentalism. p. 48
- "Author Query for 'A.Gibson'". International Plant Names Index.
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- Noltie, H. J. (2002) The Dapuri drawings: Alexander Gibson and The Bombay Botanic Gardens. The Antique Collectors Club in association with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. 240pp.
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