The word Assam has its origin in the Sanskrit word Asom meaning Unparalleled or Peerless. In the mythological text this land is described as Pragjyotishpura or the "City of eastern lights"; the site where Lord Brahma first created the stars. This land which the Ahom Rulers described as "Nung Dun Chun Kham" or the "Country of Golden Gardens", is endowed with natural bounty rarely found elsewhere.
The State of Assam; criss-crossed by mountains, valleys and an intricate river system; is located in the eastern most part of India between 24°.07' N to 28°.00' N Latitude and 89°.42' E to 96°. 02' E Longitude and extends over geographical area of 78,438 sq. km. which constitute 2.39% of the country's total area. In his book Red Rivers and Blue Hills, the eminent scholar Hem Barua wrote, "To many outsiders Assam is no more than a land of mountains and malaria, earthquakes and floods and the Kamakhya Temple. To others it is a green woodland where slothful serpents, insidious tigers, wild elephants and stealthy leopards peep and peer with virulent eyes and claws. Assam to most of the people is mentally a distant horizon like Bolivia or Peru – less known and more fancied".
The state is famous for its tea gardens and one horned Rhinoceros. Topographically the state can be divided in to three parts viz the Brahmaputra valley, the Surma valley and the mountainous Assam Ranges. The state has subtropical climate with temperature ranging from 5°C to 32°C and mean annual rainfall varying from 1,500 mm to 3,750 mm.
As per the 2011 census, Assam has a population of 31.21 million accounting to 2.58% of India's population. The State's urban and rural population is 14.10% & 85.90% respectively. The Tribal population is 12.45 %. The average population density is 398 persons per sq km which is slightly higher than the national average. The Livestock population as per 19th Live Stock Census 2012 is 19.08 million.
The recorded forest area of Assam is 26,832 sq km accounting for 34.21% of its geographical area. According to their legal status, Reserved Forests constitute 66.58% and Unclassed Forests 33.42% of the total forest area.
The protected area network of Assam includes 7 National Parks and 18 wildlife sanctuaries covering an area of 4938.53 km2.
Forest type mapping using satellite data has been undertaken by the Forest Survey of India with reference to Champion and Seth Classification. As per this assessment, the state has 18 forest types belonging to five forest type groups viz Tropical Wet Evergreen, Tropical Semi Evergreen, Tropical Moist Deciduous, Tropical Dry Deciduous and Sub Tropical Pine Forests.
Based on the interpretation of IRS Resourcesat-2 LISS III satellite data of the period Nov 2017 to Feb 2018, the Forest Cover in the State is 28,326.51 sq km which is 36.11 % of the State's geographical area. In terms of forest canopy density classes, the State has 2,794.86 sq km under Very Dense Forest (VDF), 10,278.91 sq km under Moderately Dense Forest (MDF) and 15,252.74 sq km under Open Forest (OF). Forest Cover in the State has increased by 221.51 sq km as compared to the previous assessment reported in ISFR 2017.
(In sq km)
|Class||Area||% of GA|
|District||Geographical Area (GA)||2019 Assessment||%
|Change wrt 2017 assessment||Scrub|
|Very Dense Forest||Mod. Dense Forest||Open Forest||Total|
Trees outside Forests (TOF) refer to tree resources found outside the forests as defined in the Government records. FSI maps forest cover using satellite data and assesses tree cover outside forests using sampling based method. Forest Cover outside the recorded forest area is derived using boundaries of RFA or Green Wash. Extent of TOF therefore may be estimated as the sum of extent of forest cover outside the recorded forest areas (RFA) and tree cover as given in the preceding section.
|Extent of TOF in Assam|
|(in sq km)|
|Forest Cover outside the RFA/GW||Tree Cover||Extent of TOF|
|Carbon Stock in Forest
The total Carbon stock of forests in the State including the TOF patches which are more than 1 ha in size is 270.15 million tonnes (990.55 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent) which is 3.79 % of total forest carbon of the country. Pool wise forest carbon in Assam is given in the following table
|Forest Carbon in Assam in different pools (in "000 tonnes)|
Assam is endowed with wide ranging flora and fauna. It is one of the best destinations where tourist can encounter a great variety of wildlife. The State of Assam is famous worldwide as the home of great one horned Rhinoceros which is largely concentrated in the Kaziranga National Park. Other notable faunal species found here are Hoolock Gibbon, Stump Tailed Macaque, Capped Langur and Golden Langur, Pigmy Hog, Clouded Leopard, Golden Cat and White Winged Wood Duck. Elephants are found in all parts in Assam. The floral and faunal basket consists of:
|Biodiversity Particulars||Estimated Number of Species|
|Bird||800+ (280 migratory)|
Source: Assam Forests At a Glance, Forest Department, Assam, 2011-12
Forests provide a variety of products for both commercial as well as household consumption that include industrial wood, fuel, bamboo, thatch and thatching material, cane, traditional medicines, edible fruits, bark, gum and resin, fiber and floss etc. This magnificent array of plant and animals products is however, facing high incidence of biotic and extractive pressure affecting their physical and ecological integrity, bringing serious repercussion to the State's biodiversity, wildlife and overall ecology. To ensure the wellbeing of the people, through effective conservation and management of the natural resources, the Government of Assam (GOA) with the support of Agence Française de Dévelopment (French Development Agency - AFD), is implementing the Assam Project on Forest and Biodiversity Conservation (APFBC). The Project aims to restore forest ecosystems, in collaboration with the forest dependent communities to enhance their livelihoods, ensuring conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. To achieve this, the project is organized around four main technical components and one component for project management.