Know Your Services | The Indian Forest Service

  • IFoS is one of the three All India Services
  • It was created in 1966 under the All India Services Act 1951
  • Previously, the Imperial Forestry Service existed during the British Raj from 1865 to 1935

Exam pattern:

#1. Prelims It is the same as that of Civil services Preliminary Examination (same exam, held simultaneously).

#2. Mains
The written examination consists of the following papers:

  • Paper 1- General English- 300 Marks
  • Paper 2- General Knowledge- 300 Marks
  • Papers III, IV, V and VI- Any two subjects to be selected from the list of the optional subjects. Each subject will have two papers- 200 marks for each paper.

#3. Personality Test of candidates who qualify from Mains will be conducted by the UPSC. Maximum Marks- 300.

List of optional subjects:
(i) Agriculture
(ii.) Agricultural Engineering
(iii) Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science
(iv) Botany
(v) Chemistry
(vi) Chemical Engineering
(vii) Civil Engineering
(viii) Forestry
(ix) Geology
(x) Mathematics
(xi) Mechanical Engineering
(xii) Physics
(xiii) Statistics
(xiv) Zoology

The following combination of subjects are not allowed:
(a) Agriculture and Agricultural Engineering
(b) Agriculture and Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science
(c) Agriculture and ·Forestry
(d) Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
(e) Mathematics and Statistics
(f) Of the Engineering subjects viz. Agricultural Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering- not more than one

Eligibility– The candidate must hold a Bachelor’s degree with at least one of the following subjects:

Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science, Botany, Chemistry, Geology, Mathematics, Physics, Statistics and Zoology, Agriculture, Forestry, Agriculture Engineering, Engineering.


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.

IFoS 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.


Their services are placed under various State cadres and joint cadres, even though they have the mandate to serve both under the State and Central Governments.

Career opportunities:

  • An IFS officer is largely independent of district administration and exercises administrative, judicial and financial powers in their own domain.
  • 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.
  • The highest ranking IFoS official in each state is the Head of Forest Forces (HoFF), a cabinet selection post equal in rank to the Chief Secretary for IAS or State Police Chief for the IPS.
  • 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, United Nations bodies, international organisations, NGOs, voluntary organisations apart from private sector as per the Indian Forest Service (Cadre) Rules, 1966.
  • Ministry of Environment and Forests (India), under the Government of India, is the cadre controlling authority of Indian Forest Service.


Let’s see how they are deputed technically…

As per Rule 6 of the Indian Forest Service (Cadre) Rules, 1966 deputation of IFS officers broadly falls into two categories: Central Deputation & State Deputation

#1. Central 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

  • 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 under this scheme.
  • Similar to the CSS, there are two Non-CSS 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.viz IAS, IPS, IFS are participants under this Scheme

It was on deputation at AIIMS as deputy secretary and Chief Vigilance Officer that Sanjiv Chaturvedi, an IFoS officer exposed corruption and was later awarded Ramon Magsaysay Award (Asia’s nobel) for emergent leadership

#2. State Deputation:
An IFoS 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.

#3. Deputation under International Organisations
An IFoS officer may also be deputed for service under international organisation by Central Government in consultation with State Government.

Training & Recruitment:

  • Training at the Academy extends over a period of 2 years. Comprehensive exposure to all the subjects that are directly or indirectly related to forestry are provided.
  • The course is designed to be covered in phases:
    1. Foundation Course
    2. Professional Phase I
    3. Professional Phase II
    4. Convocation Phase
  • Officers of the IFoS have to initially attend the common foundation course at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussorie.
  • On completion of this, they 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’s degree in Science (Forestry) of Forest Research Institute. The officers are taught more than 56 subjects of life sciences in these two years.
  • 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 or Deputy Conservator 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 life in IFoS:


Let’s know about life in IFoS from an IFoS himself…
Jayanti Prasad Sharma, an IFoS officer (retd.) served for 35 years from 1963 to 1998. Sharma retired as Chief Conservator of Forests after serving in different districts and commissionerates of Uttar Pradesh. In his long career span he gathered precious insight into the world of animals and nature that most modern youngsters can only imagine.

#1. Wildlife encounter:
As a young officer Sharma’s first posting was in Gorakhpur in 1965 and within days, he had his first brush with the most feared of all.

He encountered a Tiger merely 20-30 yards and was chased by him. He was literally frozen. But somehow he managed to hide himself and use all theory learnt during training into practice.

#2. Human encounter:
The problems and challenges faced are not from the wildlife itself, but most often from humans. Apart from the known illegal activities of poaching and felling of protected trees which the officers had to constantly check on, one of the biggest everyday challenge is to prevent encroachment of the forest land.

On the other hand, as chief protectors of the forest and its inhabitants, forest officers are also the chief negotiators who resolve conflict when a wild animal enters human settlements. Sharma says, it was a part of his day-to-day job to ensure that peace was maintained when such conflicts arose.

#3. Disappearing forests:
He says during the sixties when he joined the service there was lot of love and respect in the eyes of public for forest as well as foresters. There was in general, respect for forest law. Things have changed now. There is lots of political interference. In the name of development the pressure on land has increased and it has becomes the easiest prey, he adds.

Due to such policies to please the interests of few, the forest land has diminished a lot and is fast diminishing from what we inherited.
When he was in service, Sharma recalls there were no roads. They were trained to travel on foot on hills.

#4. Choosing to serve forests:
Sharma hopes more youngsters choose IFS. He advises them to join this service with a determination and zeal of serving the country and the environment. He also importantly asks the next generation to not stoop down to political pressures.

They must make an effort to change the mindset of people and politicians who have become anti forests, who value monetary gains over our mother nature. For them forests and forest departments are obstructions in their plans of grabbing forests land. They have to take up the task of making world aware of the natural wealth we have inherited and teach them to pass it on to our next generation. It should be taken up as our moral responsibility.

#5. Some vital career lessons:

As you have decided to join IFS, so now it is forests where you belong. Along with office work, field inspections are very important. Make it a habit to visit the fields and do lots of site inspections. Try not to be an arm chair officer but a one who is a field officer.

We have inherited a chain of rest houses in dense and remote places built by Britishers. Always stay few nights every month in them. It helps connecting with the locals in much better way and gives a great command over the area of one’s jurisdiction.

#6. Some other view:

Let’s see what a guy has to say about his father being in IFS…

Life’s been pretty much an adventure. His cadre is WB, sometimes it has been dangerous living around there – Bodo, Naxalite and Gorkhaland uprisings. Perks and power are the same as an IAS officer in such areas coz of extensive forest lands. Plenty of beautifully constructed colonial/modern times forest rest houses, postings in National Parks and Sanctuaries etc, discounted timber rates. Got to live in one of the nicest bungalows with fancy gardens.

On the less brighter side, the CM can bust you for anything from minimal tree-felling to an animal getting slaughtered on a railroad. More so in states with more rural populations and tribal areas. Especially now when everybody is waking up to the environment more consciously. I would’ve liked sitting for the exam myself if people from a non-science background were eligible.

Published with inputs from Swapnil



User Avatar

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch