Indian Forest Service

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Indian Forest Service (IFS)
भारतीय वन सेवा
Service Overview
Indian Forest Service, IFS logo.png
Abbreviation IFS
Year of Constitution 1966
Country India
Staff College Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (IGNFA), Dehradun
Cadre Controlling Authority Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
Legal personality Governmental: Government service
General nature Administration of Forest and Wildlife resources
Preceding service Imperial Forest Service
Cadre strength 3034 (Including 2009)
Service Chief
Director General of Forests
Current: S S Garbyal, IFS
Head of the Civil Services
Cabinet Secretary
Current: A K Seth, IAS
"Imperial Forest Service" redirects here

Indian Forest Service (Hindi: भारतीय वन सेवा) (Abbreviated as IFS[1]) is one of the Civil Services of India and belongs to the apex All India Services group, with other two All India Services being the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS).[2][3][4]

Indian Forest Service was created in 1966 under the All India Services Act 1951. However, this was only a revival of a well organised Imperial Forestry Service which existed during the British Raj from 1865 to 1935. The officers are recruited and trained by the Central Government but their services are placed under various State cadres, and they have the mandate to serve both under the State and Central Governments.[5][6] The main mandate of the service is the implementation of the National Forest Policy which aims to ensure environmental stability and maintenance of ecological balance which are vital for sustenance of all life forms, human, animal and plant.[7][8] IFS officers while in field postings in respective state cadres 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.

An IFS officer is largely independent of the district administration and exercises administrative, judicial and financial powers in their own domain.[9] All top positions in state forest department are held by IFS officers. Positions like Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Conservator of Forests (CF) and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) etc are some examples. They are also eligible for State and Central deputations as their counterpart IAS and IPS officers. Deputation of IFS officers to the Central Government includes appointments in Central Ministries at the position of Deputy Secretary, Director, Joint Secretary and Additional Secretary etc; appointments in various Public Sector Units, Institutes and Academies at the position of Chief Vigilance Officers (CVO), Managing Directors, Inspector General, Director General etc. Deputation of IFS officers is also permissible to foreign governments, UN bodies, international organisations, NGOs, voluntary organisations apart from private sector as per the Indian Forest Service (Cadre) Rules, 1966.[10]

Ministry of Environment and Forests (India), under the Government of India, is the cadre controlling authority of Indian Forest Service.[11]


IFS officers are recruited through the Indian Forest Service examination which is conducted annually by the Union Public Service Commission.[12] The examination is open to graduates in any science or engineering discipline. From several hundreds of thousands of candidates that apply for the examination only around 85 make it to the final selection list.

The Indian Forest Service Examination has a gruelling three stage competitive selection process spanning nearly seven months.

Stage one : All applicants have to take an objective type examination called the Preliminary Examination which is the same as that of the Civil Services Examination. It consists of two papers, where they are tested on areas such as economics, politics, history, geography, environment, awareness of current affairs, reading comprehension, logical reasoning, basic numeracy skills, inter-personal skills and decision making. Generally the qualifying cut-off marks of preliminary exam required to sit for IFS main examination is greater than that required to sit for Civil Services main examination. The marks of Preliminary Examination is not counted in making final overall merit.

Stage two : Around 1400 candidates are selected for the Main Examination which consists of six descriptive papers. Each candidate has to select two optional subject (two papers each) from among the subjects allowed by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and has to take one General Studies paper and an English language paper.

Stage three : Around 230 candidates securing highest marks in the Main Examination are called for the interview conducted by UPSC board members. Interview or personality assessment is followed by a medical checkp and a physical test which requires all male candidates to complete a 25 km walk/run in under 4 hours. For ladies the distance is reduced to 14 km. The test is usually conducted at the National Zoological Park Delhi.

After selection for the IFS, candidates are allocated state cadres. There is one cadre for each Indian state, with the exception of three joint cadres: Assam-Meghalaya, Manipur-Tripura, and Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram-Union Territories (AGMUT). Two-thirds of the strength of every cadre is filled directly by IFS officers and the remaining are promoted from the respective states cadre officers.


Dietrich Brandis, who is widely considered as the father of IFS.

Imperial Forestry Service[edit]

India was one of the first in the world to introduce scientific forest management. In 1864, the British Raj established the Imperial Forest Department. In 1866 Dr Dietrich Brandis, a German forest officer, was appointed Inspector General of Forests. The Imperial Forestry Service was organised subordinate to the Imperial Forest Department in 1867. The British colonial government also constituted provincial forest services and executive and subordinate services similar to the forest administrative hierarchy used today.

Officers appointed from 1867 to 1885 were trained in Germany and France, and from 1885 to 1905 at Cooper's Hill, London, a noted professional college of forestry. From 1905 to 1926, the University of Oxford (Sir William Schlich), University of Cambridge, and University of Edinburgh had undertaken the task of training Imperial Forestry Service officers.

From 1927 to 1932, forest officers were trained at the Imperial Forest Research Institute (FRI) at Dehradun, which had been established in 1906.

Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy[edit]

The Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy[13] was established in the 1935 at Dehradun, and officers recruited to the Superior Forest Service by the states and provinces were trained there. Forestry, which was managed by the federal government until then, was transferred to the "provincial list" by the Government of India Act 1935, and recruitment to the Imperial Forestry Service was subsequently discontinued.

Modern agency[edit]

The modern Indian Forest Service was established in 1966, after independence, under the All India Services Act 1951. The first Inspector General of Forests, Hari Singh (administrator), was instrumental in the development of the IFS.

India has an area of 6,35,400 km2 designated as forests, about 19.32 % of the country. India's forest policy was created in 1894 and revised in 1952 and again in 1988.


As per Rule 6 of the Indian Forest Service (Cadre) Rules, 1966 deputation of IFS officers broadly falls into two categories:[14]

  1. Central Deputation
  2. State Deputation

For Central Deputation, there are two schemes devised for the purpose of regulating appointments in Government of India and organisations under its control.

  • Central Staffing Scheme
  • Non-Central Staffing Scheme

Central Deputation[edit]

There are two Central Staffing Schemes, one each controlled by Ministry of Environment and Forests (India) (MoEF) and Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) of Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and they are respectively called as CSS of MoEF and CSS of DoPT.

Manning the pre-identified professional positions in the Ministry, its regional offices, subordinate offices, organisations under its control (located elsewhere in the country) and in other Ministries/Departments, exclusively by IFS, CSS of MoEF scheme has been formulated. The posts included under it are Director General of Forests, Additional Director General of Forests, Inspector General of Forests and Deputy Inspector General of Forests in Ministry of Environment and Forests, Associate Professors and Lecturers in IGNFA, Director of Forest Survey of India, Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, Project Tiger, Project Elephant, National Zoological Park, Forest Education and Deputy Directors/Conservators in Regional offices of the Ministry.

Similar to the CSS of the MoEF, for manning pre-identified positions of Under Secretary (US), Deputy Secretary (DS), Director, Joint Secretary to Government of India (JS), Additional Secretary (AS), Special Secretary (SS) and equivalent levels in the Government of India and its organizations, DoPT have formulated a staffing Scheme. A total of 38 Civil Services including the three All India Services viz IAS, IPS, IFS are participants under this Scheme.

Similar to the CSS, there are two Non-CSSs under the Government of India one each controlled by the MoEF and DoPT. All posts to be filled up by IFS officers in the autonomous bodies under the control of the Ministry viz ICFRE, Dehradun; Wild Life Institute of India, Dehradun and Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal; Wild-Life Crime Control Bureau, Central Pollution Control Board, Central Zoo Authority etc are called as non-CSS posts. Isolated posts under various Departments and Ministries in Government of India and the posts of Commissions, Autonomous Bodies, Authorities, Trusts, Boards, Societies, etc. constitute non-CSS of DoPT.

State Deputation[edit]

An IFS officer may also be deputed for service under a company, association, corporation which is wholly or substantially owned or controlled by a State Government, a Municipal Corporation or Local Body. Appointment is done by the State Government.

Deputation under International Organisation[edit]

An IFS officer may also be deputed for service under international organisation by Central Government in consultation with State Government.


Forest Research Institute

Officers are trained at the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy at Dehradun, with training on forest and wildlife management, soil conservation, surveying, Scheduled Tribes and handling weapons. After completion of their training the officers are awarded a master degree in Science (Forestry) of Forest Research Institute the Deemed University. The officers are taught more than 56 subjects of life sciences.

After completing training at the academy, candidates go through a year of on-the-job field training in the state to which he or she is assigned, during which they are posted as Assistant Conservators of Forests. After four years of service in the junior scale, which includes a professional training phase and foundation course, officers are appointed to the Senior Time Scale and are entitled to be posted as Deputy Conservators of Forests or Divisional Forest Officers (DFO) in charge of districts/forest divisions.

The officers are supposed to work in the field of forestry as well as wildlife. At times they are posted as working plan officers and put on deputation with agencies such as State Forest Corporation, for carrying out exploiting operations of timber and their marketing, as Member Secretaries of Pollution control Board, Tourism Officers or Executive Directors or MDs of state-run corporations or boards. They can be posted as Secretaries of the Autonomous Bodies and as Directors or Joint Secretaries in government of India.

Indian Forest Service officers draw pay and other perks equal to Indian Administrative Service (IAS). They are awarded non-functional scales as when their juniors in the IAS by two years draw the scale of Joint Secretary to Government of India, they are awarded the scale of Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) in the state. The candidates appearing for Indian Forest Service examination must hold a bachelor's degree in science.

Notable IFS officers[edit]

See also[edit]