The College of Forestry, Sirsi is one of the premier institutes of forestry education in the country and a constituent college of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad. During the early 1980’s, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) provided an opportunity to start state-run forestry Colleges in various State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) in the country. The University of Agricultural Sciences, (UAS) took lead to initiate a four-year Forestry Degree Programme during the academic year 1985-86 since it earlier had a head-start in initiating the research in the field of Agro forestry at Prabhunagar. Earlier as per the recommendation of the National Commission on Agriculture, ICAR had started a course in ‘Farm Forestry’ during 1976 in all SAUs. All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on Agro forestry proposed by the scientists of UAS was also subsequently approved by the ICAR. Based on the model proposed, several centers were started at various places throughout India. Hence it was logical to start formal education on forestry at Dharwad campus.
Initially, the Forestry Degree Programme functioned as an independent Department of the College of Agriculture, Dharwad. Several staff members belonging to various disciplines were trained abroad (in places such as Oxford Forestry Institute, UK; various Universities in USA) for a period of one-year between 1985 and 1989. In the meantime, the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad was established after bifurcation of the UAS, Bangalore.
There was a growing concern among the academicians and politicians alike that the students of forestry should have a greater exposure and access to natural forests. Hence the terminal two years of Forestry Degree Programme were shifted from Dharwad to Magod in Yellapur taluk of Uttara Kannada (UK) district during November 1987. It was initially thought that the campus infrastructure at Magod, left vacant following the stalling of the intended ‘Bedthi hydroelectric power project, would be sufficient to run a College and a hostel.
However, after about a couple of difficult years, it was felt that the infrastructure facilities at Magod were insufficient and many a times lacking. During May 1990, the Programme was shifted to Sirsi. Sirsi is right in the center of one of the ‘global hotspots of bio-diversity’ of the world, i.e. the Western Ghats, and is bestowed with different natural forest types. The various activities of the State Department of Forests are concentrated around Sirsi. Joint Forest Planning and Management is also being effectively undertaken in this region. There were two other research stations of the UAS Dharwad (Paddy and Pepper) also functioning within the precincts of this cozy town. A Krishi Vigyan Kendra is located in the campus. All these have made a good milieu for the housing of College of Forestry.