Natural Vegetation: Forests and Grasslands of North-East India

  • K. R. Dikshit
  • Jutta K. Dikshit
Part of the Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research book series (AAHER)


Of the total forest area of around 68 million hectares in India, the North-Eastern states account for over 17 million hectares, roughly one-fourth of the forest area of the country. All the states of North-East India, with the exception of Assam, have 50–80 % of their area under forests. High temperatures, combined with heavy to very heavy rains, have stimulated the growth of forests at lower levels. Even in the mountainous regions, there are heavy rains in summer, and lower temperatures during winter don’t cause excessive evapotranspiration and thus limit the possibility of any moisture stress in the soil. The forests in the hilly regions, despite the destruction of forests by slash and burn cultivation, have survived and are regenerated. These forests have enormous variation in their typology and floral characteristics, ranging from tropical evergreen at lower altitude in upper Brahmaputra valley to pine forests in the Himalayas and birch–rhododendron scrub at still higher levels. Dipterocarpus macrocarpus (Hollong in Assamese) and Mesua ferrea (Nahar in Assamese) are the principal type trees of Assam valley tropical evergreen forests. In the tropical moist deciduous forests, Shorea robusta is the principal species with several associates like Schima wallichii (Makna Sal). The subtropical wet hill forests, as in Meghalaya, have several varieties of oak (Quercus spp.). Richness of flora because of the wet hills presents a climate condition, which combines the characteristics of tropical as well as temperate climate. At higher altitudes, mixed coniferous and coniferous forests occur followed by sub-alpine pastures, rhododendrons and scrubs at still higher altitudes.

North-East India is known for its biodiversity. It is one of the two biodiversity hotspots of India. Half the total number of floral species, known in India, occurs here, and the region forms the richest reservoir of genetic variability. An important aspect of the forests of the region is the profusion of orchids. The North-East region has 876 orchid species, which constitute 70 % of the total orchid flora of India. To preserve the biodiversity of the region, a number of biospheres, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries (2004) are established in the region.


Evergreen Forest Dense Forest Forest Department Sacred Grove Clouded Leopard 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. R. Dikshit
    • 1
  • Jutta K. Dikshit
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PunePuneIndia

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