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Indian Forest Service (IFoS)

The Indian Forest Service (IFoS) is a prestigious Civil Service in India that specifically deals with the management and conservation of the country's forests and wildlife. As part of the larger Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the IFoS holds a unique position, focusing exclusively on environmental and forestry issues critical to India's ecological balance and biodiversity.

How did the Indian Forest Service Come into Being?


India is one of the first countries in the world to have stated scientific management of its forests. In 1864, the then British India Government started the Imperial Forest Department and appointed Dr. Dietrich Brandis, a German Forest officer Inspector General of Forests in 1866. To manage the varied natural resources of the vast country and to organise the affairs of the Imperial Forest Department, Imperial Forest Service was constituted in 1867.

Till 1805, the officers appointed to the Imperial Forest Service were trained in France and Germany, then in London till 1905 and at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh until 1926. It was in 1938 when the Indian Forest College (IFC) was established at DehraDun to train the Superior Forest Service by the provinces/states.

However, the subject of "Forestry" (managed by the Federal Government), was transferred to the "Provincial List" by the Government of India Act, 1935 and subsequently recruitment to the Imperial Forest Service was discontinued.

The Indian Forest Service, one of the three All India Services (the other two being the Indian Administrative Service, IAS & the Indian Police Service, IPS), was constituted in the year 1966 under the All India Services Act, 1951 by the Government of India. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is the Cadre Controlling Authority for the Indian Forest Service (IFS).

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Where are the Indian Forest Service Officers Trained?

After completing professional training in forestry and related subjects at the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy in Dehradun, followed by a Foundation Course at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) in Mussoorie, Indian Forest Service probationers undergo one year of practical training within their allotted cadre.

After completing the four-year probation period from the Year of Allotment, successful officers are appointed to the Senior Time Scale. At this stage, they can be assigned roles such as Divisional Forest Officers or Deputy Conservators of Forests overseeing Forest Divisions.

What is the Pay Structure of Indian Forest Service Officers?

Posts Scale of Pay (in Rs) Pay Level
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forestry) 225000 Level-17
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests 205400-224400 Level-16
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests 182200-224100 Level-15
Chief Conservator of Forests 144200-218200 Level-14
Conservator of Forests 131100-216600 Level-13A
Deputy Conservator of Forests (Selection Grade) 118500-214100 Level-13
(Junior Administrative Grade) 78800-209200 Level-12
(Senior Time Scale) 67700-208700 Level-11
(Junior Time Scale) 56100-177500 Level-10




Where to Apply for the Indian Forest Service Exam?

The online application form for Indian Forest Service is the same as the one for Civil Services Examination (using the website https://upsconline.nic.in), subject to meeting the requisite eligibility criteria by them.

How to Apply for the Indian Forest Service Exam?

  • Applicants must first register on the One Time Registration (OTR) platform, accessible on the official website of UPSC. The OTR registration is a one-time process.
  • If an applicant is already registered, they can directly proceed to fill out the online application for the examination.

What is the Eligibility Criteria for the Indian Forest Service Exam?

  • Nationality: A candidate must be either
    • A citizen of India
    • A subject of Nepal or Bhutan or a Tibetan refugee who came over to India before 1st January, 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India
    • A Person of Indian Origin migrated from Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, certain East African countries and Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.
    • Age Limit: Minimum - 21 years | Maximum - 32 years
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Upper age relaxation available for
PwBDs (including low vision, Partially deaf and locomotor disability - leprosy cured and acid attack victims only) Up to 10 years of Age
SC/ST Candidates, ex-servicemen who rendered at least five years Military Service Up to 5 years of Age
OBC Candidates, Defence Service personnel disabled in certain operations Up to 3 years of Age
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Minimum Educational Requirement:

  • Bachelor's degree (from any of Universities incorporated by an Act of the Central/State Legislature in India or other such educational institutions established by an Act of Parliament or declared to be deemed as a University by the UGC) with at least one of the subjects namely:
    • Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science
    • Botany
    • Chemistry
    • Geology
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Statistics
    • Zoology
    • Or a Bachelor's degree in Agriculture, Forestry or in Engineering
  • Or possess an equivalent qualification.



What is the Number of Attempts for the Indian Forest Service Exam?


Number of Attempts for the Indian Forest Service Exam
Category No. of Attempts
General 6
SC/ST Candidates (including PwBD from same categories) No Limit
OBC 9
PwBD Candidate (belonging to General, EWS and OBC) 9

What is the Pattern for the Indian Forest Service Exam?


The Indian Forest Service Examination consists of two stages:

  • Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (Objective type) for the selection of candidates for the Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination; and
    • The preliminary examination is of qualifying nature containing two objective type papers - 200 marks each.
      • The General Studies Paper-II of the Preliminary Examination (or the CSAT) has a minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.
  • Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination (6 Written papers + Interview) for the selection of candidates for the Indian Forest Service. The Main (written) examination consists of the following:


Paper Subject Marks
Paper I General English 300
Paper II General Knowledge 300
Paper III & IV (Optional 1) Any One subject selected from the list of the optional subjects 200 (each)
Paper V & VI (Optional 2) Any One subject selected from the list of the optional subjects 200 (each)
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List of Optional Subjects


However, candidates are not allowed to choose certain combination of subjects, which are:


  1. Agriculture and Agricultural Engg.
  2. Agriculture and Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science.
  3. Agriculture and Forestry.
  4. Chemistry and Chemical Engg.
  5. Mathematics and Statistics.
  6. Of the Engineering subjects viz. Agricultural Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering—not more than one subject

The interview carries 300 marks with no minimum qualifying marks. Marks thus obtained by candidate (only)
in the Main Examination (written part as well as interview) determines their final ranking.


Detailed Application Form:




What is the Syllabus for the Indian Forest Service Exam?


Part A-Preliminary Examination:

Paper I (200 Marks | Duration: 2 hours)

  • Current events of national and international importance
  • History of India and Indian National Movement
  • Indian Polity and Governance- Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development- Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change - that do not require subject specialisation.
  • General science.

Paper II (200 Marks | Duration: 2 hours) 

  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills;
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision making and problem solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. - Class X level)

Part B-Main Examination:

The standard of papers in General English and General Knowledge will be as may be expected of a Science or Engineering graduate of an Indian University. The scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers for the examination is broadly of the honours degree level i.e. a level higher than the bachelors degree and lower than the master's degree. In the case of engineering subjects, the level corresponds to the bachelor's degree. There will be no practical examination in any of the subjects.

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General English (Paper I):

  • Candidates are required to write an essay in English. Some other questions are also present, designed to test their understanding of English and workmanlike use of words. Passages are usually set for summary or precis.

General Knowledge (Paper II):

  • General Knowledge including knowledge of current events and of such matters of everyday observation and experience in their scientific aspects as may be expected of an educated person who has not made a special study of any scientific subject.
  • The paper also includes questions on Indian Polity including the political system and the Constitution of India, History of India and Geography of a nature which the candidate should be able to answer without special study.

Optional Subjects (Papers III, IV, V and VI):

  • Total number of questions in each question paper of optional subjects is eight; with four questions in both Part A and Part B.
    • Out of eight questions, five questions are to be attempted (with at least two questions to be attempted from each part).
      • One question in each part will be compulsory (to be mandatorily attempted).
      • Out of the remaining 6 questions, 3 must be answered taking at least one question from each part.
  • For comprehensive details of syllabi for all the optional subjects, refer to the latest official notification of UPSC for IFoS 2024 exam (Click here)

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