Colonial Environmentalism: Governance in Historical and Legal Context

  • Gauri Dubey
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  • Gauri Dubey

    Student at Maharashtra National Law University, India

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Colonialism has been a significant period in the history of mankind and has left enduring effects on the political, socio-cultural and environmental aspects of the colonized nations. This research paper delves in understanding and analysing the profound and lasting impact of colonialism on environment and governance & legal frameworks related to it. Through a comprehensive analysis of historical policies and practices, this article explores how colonial powers exploited natural resources and imposed legal structures that reshaped the environmental landscapes of colonized regions. Colonial environmentalism mainly revolves around the commercial interests of the colonizing powers and their political ideologies. Therefore, the study also highlights the economic motives behind colonial expansion and resultant environmental degradation, deriving examples from case studies such as the North Kannara district in India. These measures and policies often resulted into significant environmental degradation and also adversely affected the inhabitants of the regions including forest dwellers and ‘adivasis’. It further delves into the continuing legacies of these colonial policies in contemporary environmental challenges and legal reforms, particularly in post-colonial nations. By integrating perspectives from various historiographies and accounts of travellers, this paper seeks to provide a nuanced understanding of the intersection between colonial history and environmental law, emphasizing the need for decolonizing environmental governance to address ongoing ecological and socio-economic issues.


Research Paper


International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 3, Page 2573 - 2583


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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution -NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits remixing, adapting, and building upon the work for non-commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.


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