Indian Forest Service – All You Need to Know

The Indian Forest Service 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). Officers are recruited via a rigorous competitive examination and then trained for about two years by the Central Government. The Indian Forest Service is a Central Civil Service of Group A and Group B under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India (GoI) is the cadre controlling authority of Indian Forest Service.

The main mandate of the Indian Forest 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. 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.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Indian Forest Service Examination once in a year to recruit officers for this service and is one of the toughest open competitive exams conducted in India. The examination is open to graduates in any science or engineering discipline and has a three-stage selection process. The IFS officers are recruited and trained by the Central government but their services are placed under state cadres, and they have to serve both under the state and Central governments.

Must Read: UPSC Syllabus of Prelims and Mains Examination

UPSC Indian Forest Service Exam Pattern & Selection Procedure

The Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (objective type) is done for screening and selection of the candidates for Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination. After passing Preliminary exam you will go through Indian Forest Service, Main Examination which consists written test and interview.

The Indian Forest Service Examination consists of two successive stages:

  • Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (Objective type)
  • Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination (Written and Interview) for the selection of candidates for the Indian Forest Service.

Read Also: Civil Service (IAS) Eligibility

Preliminary Examination

All the applicants will have to take an objective type exam called the Preliminary Examination that is common to other Civil Services Examination. It consists of two papers, which are compulsory, and having 200 marks each. The duration of each paper will be of 2 hours. 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. The marks of Preliminary Exam is not counted in making final overall merit.

Mains Examination

Mains Examination consist of six descriptive papers. Each candidate has to select two optional subjects (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.

The Indian Forest Service (Mains) written examination consists of the following papers:-

Paper I – General English – 300 Marks

Paper II – General Knowledge – 300 Marks

Paper III, IV, V, VI – Any two subjects to be selected from the optional paper list; each subject will have two papers –  200 marks each

The syllabus for optional subject is based on the Bachelors Degree and lowers than the Master Degree.

Interview for Personality Test: The Interview/Personality Test is worth 300 Marks. Only candidates who clear the written examination would be called for the Interview.

Must Read: Role of Civil Servants (IAS, IPS, IRS, IFS and IES)

Interview/Personality Test

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 check-up and a physical test which requires all male candidates to complete a 25 km walk/run in less than 4 hours. For ladies the distance is reduced to 14 km. The test is usually conducted at the National Zoological Park in 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).

Read Also: Things to Keep in Mind While Preparing for UPSC Interview

Eligibility Conditions


A candidate must be either :‐

  • a citizen of India, or
  • a citizen of Nepal, or
  • a citizen of Bhutan, or
  • a Tibetan refugee who came over to India before 1st January, 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India, or
  • a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Srilanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia and Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.

Provided that a candidate belonging to above categories shall be a person in whose favour a certificate of eligibility has been issued by the Government of India.

Also Read: Career Path of an IPS Officer

Age Limits

(a) A candidate must have attained  the age of 21 years and must not have attained  the age of 32 years on 1st August, 2016, i.e. he must have been born not earlier than 2nd August, 1984 and not later than 1st August, 1995.

(b) The upper age limit prescribed above will be relaxable:‐

  • upto a maximum of five years if a candidate belongs to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe.
  • upto a maximum of three years in the case of candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes who are eligible to avail of reservation applicable to such candidates.
  • upto a maximum of five years if a candidate had ordinarily been domiciled in the State of Jammu & Kashmir during  the period  from the 1st  January,  1980  to  the  31st day  of December, 1989.
  • upto a maximum of three years in the case of Defence Services  personnel  disabled  in operations during hostilities with any foreign country or in a disturbed area and released as a consequence thereof:
  • upto a maximum of five years in  the  case of ex‐servicemen including Commissioned Officers and ECOs/SSCOs who have rendered at least five years Military Service as on 1st August, 2016.

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Minimum Educational Qualifications

The candidate must hold a Bachelor’s degree with at least one of the subjects namely Animal Husbandry &
Veterinary Science, Botany, Chemistry, Geology, Mathematics, Physics, Statistics and Zoology, Agriculture, Forestry and in Engineering of any of Universities incorporated by an Act of the Central or StateLegislature in India or other educational institutions established by an Act of Parliament or declared to be deemed as a University or possess an equivalent qualification.

Number of Attempts

  • Every candidate appearing at the Examination, who is otherwise eligible, shall be permitted six attempts at the examination.
  • Provided  that  this restriction on  the number of attempts will not apply in  the case of Scheduled Caste and
    Scheduled Tribe candidates who are otherwise eligible
  • Provided  further  that  the  number  of  attempts  permissible  to  candidates  belonging  to  Other  Backward
    Classes who are otherwise eligible, shall be nine.
  • Provided  further  that  a  physically  handicapped  will  get  as  many  attempts  as  are  available  to  other  non‐
    physically  handicapped  candidates  of  his  or  her  community,  subject  to  the  condition  that  a  physically
    handicapped  candidate  belonging  to  the  General  Category,  shall  be  eligible  for  nine attempts.  Necessary
    action to make corresponding changes in respective Rules/Regulations pertaining to Indian Forest Service is
    being  taken  separately.  The  relaxation will  be available  to  the  physically  handicapped  candidates who are
    eligible to avail of reservation applicable to such candidates.

Physical Standards

Candidates must be physically fit according to physical standards for admission to Indian Forest Service Examination.

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