Environment and Ecological Issues



Ecology is  defined “as a scientific study of the relationship of the living organisms with each other and with their environment.”

The classical texts of the Vedic period such as the Vedas, the Samhitas, the Brahmanas and the Aranyakas-Upanishads contain many references to ecological concepts .The Indian treatise on medicine, the Caraka- Samhita and the surgical text Susruta-Samhita. contain classification of animals on the basis of habit and habitat, land in terms of nature of soil, climate and vegetation; and description of plants typical to various localities.

Caraka- Samhita contains information where air, land, water and seasons were indispensable  for life and that polluted air and water were injurious for health.

The environment is defined as ‘the sum total of living, non-living components;  influences and events, surrounding an organism.

Components of Environment

  1. Abiotic – Energy, Radiation, TEMP, Water, etc.
  2. Biotic- plants, animals, man, DECOMPOSER ETC.

Diesel engine exhaust fumes can cause cancer, humans” and it belong to the same potentially deadly category as asbestos, arsenic and ‘mustard gases.

Six main levels of organisation of ecology are:

  1. Individual- Organism is an individual living being that has the ability to act or function independently.
  2. Population-Population is a group of organisms usually of the same species,

occupying a defined area during a specific time,

  1. Community- Communities in most instances are named after the dominant plant form

(species). A community is not fixed or rigid; communities may be large or small.

Types of Community-

On the basis of size and degree of relative independence communities may be divided into two types-

(a)  Major Community

These are large-sized, well organized and relatively independent. They depend

only on the sun’s energy from outside and are independent of the inputs and

outputs from adjacent communities.

E.g: tropical ever green forest in the North-East


(b) Minor Communities

These are dependent on neighbouring communities and are often called societies.

They are secondary aggregations within a major community and are not therefore completely independent units as far as energy and nutrient dynamics are concerned.

e.g: A mat of lichen on a cow dung pad.

The environmental factors determine the characteristic of the community as well as the pattern of organisation of the members in the community

The characteristic pattern of the community is  termed as structure which is reflected in the roles played by various population, their range, the  type of area they inhabit, the diversity of species in the community and the spectrum of interactions between them

Eco-System-An ecosystem is defined as a structural and functional unit of biosphere consisting of community of living beings and the physical environment, both interacting and exchanging materials between them. It includes plants, trees, animals, fish, birds, micro-organisms, water, soil, and  people.

When an ecosystem is healthy (i.e. sustainable) it means that all the elements live in balance and are  capable of reproducing themselves


Components of Ecosystem

The components of the ecosystem is categorised into abiotic of non-living and biotic of living components. Both the components of ecosystem and environment are same.


  1. Abiotic Components

the inorganic and non-living parts of the world.  consists of soil, water, air, and light energy etc.  involves a ,large number of chemicals like oxygen, nitrogen-, etc. and physical processes including volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, forest fires, climates, and weather conditions.

Abiotic factors are the most important determinants of where and how well an organism exists in its environment. Although these factors interact with each other, one single factor can-limit the range of an organism.


  1. a) Energy

Energy from the sun is essential for maintenance of life. Energy determines the distribution of organisms in  the environment.

  1. b) Rainfall
  2. c) Temperature :-Temperature is a critical factor of the environment which greatly influences survival of organisms. Organisms can tolerate only a certain range of temperature and humidity.
  3. d) Atmosphere :It is made up of 21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen , 0.038% carbon dioxide and other inert gases  (0.93% Argon, Neon etc).
  4. e) Substratum :Land is covered by soil and a wide variety of microbes, protozoa, fungi and small animals (invertebrates) thrive in it
  5. f) Materials:

(i) Organic compound

Such as proteins, carbohydrates,  lipids,  humic  substances are formed from inorganic compound on decomposition.

(ii) Inorganic compound

Such as carbon,   carbon dioxide, water, sulphur, nitrates, phosphates, and ions of various metals are essential for organisms to survive.

  1. g) Latitude and altitude

Latitude has a strong influence on an area’s temperature, resulting in change of climates such as polar, tropical, and temperate. These climates determine different natural biomes. From sea level to highest peaks, wild life is influenced by altitude. As the altitude increases, the air becomes colder and drier, affecting wild life accordingly.( wild life decrease as altitude increase)


  1. Biotic Components :Biotic components include living organisms comprising plants, animals and microbes and are classified according to their functional attributes into producers and consumers.

Primary producers – Autotrophs (self-nourishing) Primary producers are basically green plants (and certain bacteria and algae). They synthesise carbohydrate from simple inorganic raw materials like carbon dioxide and water in the presence of sunlight by the process of photosynthesis for themselves, and supply indirectly to other non- producers.

In terrestrial ecosystem, producers are basically herbaceous and woody plants, while in aquatic ecosystem producers are various species of microscopic algae.


  1. b) Consumers — Heterotrophs or phagotrophs (other nourishing)


Consumers are incapable of producing their own food (photosynthesis).

They depend on organic food derived from plants, animals or both.

Consumers can be divided into two broad  groups


(i) Macro consumers- They feed on plants or animals or both and are categorised on the basis of their food sources.

Herbivores are primary consumers which feed mainly on plants e.g. cow, rabbit.

Secondary consumers feed on primary consumers e.g. wolves.

Carnivores which feed on secondary consumers are called tertiary consumers e.g. lions which can eat wolves.

Omnivores are organisms which consume both plants and animals e.g. man.


(ii) Micro consumers – Saprotrophs (decomposers or osmotrophs)


They are bacteria and fungi which obtain energy and nutrients by decomposing dead organic substances (detritus) of plant and animal origin.

The products of decomposition such as inorganic nutrients which are released in the ecosystem are reused by producers and thus recycled.

Earthworm and certain soil organisms (such as nematodes, and arthropods) are detritus feeders and help in the decomposition of organic matter and are called detrivores.

Classification of Eco-system


  1. Natural Ecosystem-

Terrestrial- Forests, Grasslands, Deserts

Aquatic- Fresh Waters, Saline Waters, Marine Waters

Ecotone :- a zone of junction between two or more diverse ecosystems. For e.g. the mangrove forests represent an ecotone between marine and terrestrial ecosystem.

Characteristics of Ecotone

It may be very narrow or quite wide. It has the conditions intermediate to the adjacent ecosystems. Hence it is a zone of tension.

It is linear as it shows progressive increase in species composition of one in coming community and a simultaneous decrease in species of the other out going adjoining community.

A well developed ecotones contain some organisms which are entirely different from that of the adjoining communities.

Sometimes the number of species and the population density of some of the species is much greater in this zone than either community. This is called edge effect For example the density of birds is greater in the mixed habitat of the ecotone between the forest and the desert.



a  description  of  all  the  biological,  physical  and  chemical  factors  that  a  species needs to survive, stay healthy and reproduce. No two species have exact identical niches. Niche plays an important role in conservation of organisms.

Types of Niche

  1. Habitat niche – where it lives
  2. Food niche – what is eats or decomposes &what species it competes with
  3. Reproductive niche -how and when it reproduces.
  4. Physical & chemical niche – temperature, land shape, land slope, humidity & other requirement.


The terrestrial part of the biosphere is divisible into enormous regions called biomes, which are characterized, by climate, vegetation, animal life and general soil type.

No two biomes are alike.

The most important climatic factors are temperature and precipitation.

  1. Tundra- Northern most region  adjoining the ice bound  poles. Devoid of trees except stunted shrubs in the southern part of tundra biome, ground flora includes lichen, mosses and sedges.

The typical animals are reindeer, arctic fox polar bear, snowy owl, lemming, arctic hare,  ptarmigan. Reptiles and amphibians are almost absent


  1. Taiga- Northern Europe, Asia and North America.Moderate temperature than tundra.Also known as boreal forest.

The dominating vegetation is coniferous evergreen mostly spruce, with some pine and firs. The fauna consists of small seed eating birds, hawks, fur bearing carnivores, little mink, elks, puma, Siberian tiger, wolverine, wolves etc.


  1. Temperate Deciduous Forest- Extends over Central and Southern Europe, Eastern North America, Western China, Japan, New Zealand etc.

Moderate average temperature and abundant  rainfall. These are generally the  most  productive agricultural areas of the earth The flora includes trees like beech, oak, maple and cherry. Most animals are the familiar vertebrates and invertebrates.

  1. Tropical rain forest- Tropical areas  in  the equatorial regions, which is  a bound  with  life.  Temperature and rainfall high.

Tropical rainforest covers about 7% of the earth’s surface & 40% of the world’s plant and animal species.

Multiple storey of broad-leafed evergreen tree species are in abundance.

Most animals and epiphytic plants(An epiphyte is a plant that grows harmlessly upon another plant)  are concentrated in the canopy or tree top zones

  1. Savannah- Tropical region: Savannah is most extensive in Africa

Grasses with scattered trees and fire resisting thorny shrubs.

The fauna include a great diversity of grazers and browsers such as antelopes, buffaloes, zebras, elephants and rhinoceros;  the carnivores include lion, cheetah, hyena; and mongoose, and many rodents


  1. Grassland- North America, Ukraine, etc .Dominated by grasses. Temperate conditions with rather low rainfall. Grasses dominate the vegetation. The fauna include large herbivores like bison, antelope, cattle, rodents, prairie dog, wolves, and a rich and diverse array of ground nesting bird


  1. Desert- Continental interiors with very low and sporadic rainfall with low humidity. The days are very hot but nights are cold. The flora is drought resistance vegetation such as cactus, euphorbias, sagebrush. Fauna : Reptiles, Mammals and birds.

Aquatic Zones

Aquatic systems are not called biomes,

The major differences between the various aquatic zones are due to salinity, levels  of dissolved nutrients; water temperature, depth of sunlight penetration.


  1. Fresh Water Ecosystem-Fresh water ecosystem are classified as lotic

(moving water) or lentic (still or stagnant water).


  1. Marine Ecosystem-
  2. Estuaries-Coastal bays, river mouths and tidal marshes  form  the

estuaries.  In estuaries, fresh water from rivers meet ocean water and the two are mixed by action of tides.

Estuaries are highly productive as compared to the adjacent river or sea



a part of the earth where life can exist.

represents a highly integrated and interacting zone comprising of atmosphere (air), hydrosphere (water) and lithosphere (land) Life in the biosphere is abundant between 200 metres (660 feet) below the surface of the ocean and about 6,000 metres (20,000 feet) above sea level. absent at extremes of the North and South poles. Living organisms are not uniformly distributed  throughout the biosphere



ENERGY FLOW- Energy is the basic force responsible for all metabolic activities. The flow of energy from producer to top consumers is called energy flow  which is unidirectional.

Energy flows through the trophic levels: from producers to subsequent trophic levels. There is a loss of some energy in the form of unusable heat at each trophic level.

The trophic level interaction involves three concepts namely :-

  1. Food Chain
  2. Food Web
  3. Ecological Pyramids
  4. FOOD CHAIN- A food chain starts with producers and ends with top carnivores. The sequence of eaten and being eaten, produces transfer of food energy and it is known as food chain.

Grazing food chain-The consumers which start the food chain, utilising the plant or plant part as their food, constitute the grazing food chain.

This food chain begins from green plants at the base and the primary consumer is herbivore

For example, In terestrial ecosystem, grass is eaten up by caterpillar, which is eaten by lizard and lizard is eaten by snake.

In Aquatic ecosystem phytoplanktons (primary producers) is eaten by zoo planktons which is eaten by fishes and fishes are eaten by pelicans

Detritus food chain- The food chain starts from dead organic matter of decaying animals and plant bodies to the micro-organisms and then to detritus feeding organism called detrivores or decomposer and to other predators.


Litter —■Earthworms —■Chicken—■Hawk

Detritus food chain

The distinction between these two food chains is the source of energy for the first level consumers.


“A food web illustrates, all possible transfers of energy and nutrients among the organisms in an ecosystem, whereas a food chain traces only one pathway of the food”.


The steps of trophic levels expressed in a diagrammatic way are referred as

ecological pyramids.


The food producer forms the base of the pyramid and the top carnivore forms the tip. Other consumer trophic levels are in between.

The pyramid consists of a number of horizontal bars depicting specific trophic levels which are arranged sequentially from primary producer level through herbivore, carnivore onwards.  The length of each bar represents the total number of individuals at each trophic level in an ecosystem.

The ecological pyramids are of three categories-

1.Pyramid of numbers,

2.Pyramid of biomass, and

3.Pyramid of energy or productivity

  1. Pyramid of Numbers

This deals with the relationship between the numbers of primary producers and consumers of different levels. Depending upon the size and biomass, the pyramid of numbers may not always be upright, and may even be completely inverted.

(a) Pyramid of numbers – upright

In this pyramid, the number of individuals is decreased from lower level to higher trophic level.

This type of pyramid can be seen in grassland ecosystem.

(b) Pyramid of numbers – inverted

In this pyramid, the number of individuals is increased from lower level to higher trophic level.

A count in a forest would have a small number of     large producers, for e.g. few number of big trees.   This is because the tree (primary producer) being

few in number and would represent the base of the pyramid and the dependent herbivores  (Example – Birds) in the next higher trophic level and it is followed by parasites in the next trophic level. Hyper parasites being at higher trophic level represents higher in number.

A pyramid of numbers does not take into account the fact that the size of organisms being counted in each trophic level can vary

the pyramid of number does not completely define the trophic structure for an ecosystem.

  1. Pyramid of Biomass

In this approach individuals in each trophic level are weighed instead of being counted. This gives us a pyramid of biomass, i.e., the total dry weight of all organisms at each trophic level at a particular time.

Biomass is measured in g/m2.


(a) Upward -pyramid For most ecosystems on land, the pyramid of biomass has a large base of primary producers with a smaller trophic level perched on top


(b) Inverted pyramid-In contrast, in many aquatic ecosystems, the pyramid of biomass may assume an inverted form

  1. Pyramid of Energy

To compare the functional roles of the trophic levels in an ecosystem, an energy pyramid is most suitable.

An energy pyramid, reflects the laws of thermodynamics, with conversion of solar energy to chemical energy and heat energy at each trophic level and with loss of energy being depicted at each  transfer to another trophic level.

Hence the pyramid is always upward, with a large energy base at the bottom.


Movement of these pollutants involves two main processes:


  1. Bioaccumulation

refers to how pollutants enter a food chain. there is an increase in concentration of a pollutant from the environment to the first organism in a food chain.


  1. Biomagnification

refers to the tendency of pollutants to concentrate as they move from one trophic level to the next.  there is an increase in concentration of a pollutant from one link in a food chain to another.

In order for biomagnification to occur, the pollutant must be: long-lived, mobile, soluble in fats, biologically active.

If a pollutant is not active biologically, it may biomagnify, but we really don’t worry about it much, since it probably won’t cause any problems Examples : DDT.


The interaction between the organisms is fundamental for its survival and functioning of ecosystem as a whole.

Type of Biotic Interaction

  1. Mutualism:

both species benefit.

Example: in pollination mutualisms, the pollinator gets food (pollen, nectar), and the plant has its pollen transferred to other flowers for cross-fertilization (reproduction).


  1. Commensalism:

one species benefits, the other is unaffected.

Example: cow dung provides food and shelter to dung beetles. The beetles have no effect on the cows.


  1. Competition:

both species are harmed by the interaction.

Example: if two species eat the same food, and there isn’t enough for both, both may have access to less food than they would if alone. They both suffer a shortage of food


  1. Predation and parasitism:

one species benefits, the other is harmed.

Example : predation—one fish kills and eats ..parasitism: tick gains benefit by sucking blood; host is harmed by losing blood.


  1. Amensalism :

One species is harmed, the other is unaffected.

Example: A large tree shades a small plant, retarding the growth of the small plant. The small plant has no effect on the large tree.


  1. Neutralism :

There is no net benefit or harm to either species. Perhaps in some interspecific interactions, the costs and benefits experienced by each partner are exactly the same so that they sum to zero




The elements or mineral nutrients are always in circulation moving from non-living to living and then back to the non-living components of the ecosystem in a more or less circular fashion. This circular fashion is known as biogeochemical cycling (bio for living; geo for atmosphere).

  1. Nutrient Cycling:

The nutrient cycle is a concept that describes how nutrients move from the physical environment to the living organisms, and subsequently recycled back to the physical environment.

It is essential for life and it is the vital function of the ecology of any region. In any particular environment, to maintain its organism in a sustained manner, the nutrient cycle must be kept balanced and stable.


Types of Nutrient Cycle

Based on the replacement period a nutrient cycle is referred to as Perfect or Imperfect cycle.

A perfect nutrient cycle is one in which nutrients are replaced as fast as they are utilised.

Most gaseous cycles are generally considered as perfect cycles.

In contrast sedimentary cycles are considered relatively imperfect, as some nutrients are lost from the cycle and get locked into sediments and so become unavailable for immediate cycling.

Based on the nature of the reservoir, there are two types of cycles namely Gaseous and sedimentary cycle

Gaseous Cycle — where the reservoir is the atmosphere or the hydrosphere, and

Sedimentary Cycle — where the reservoir is the earth’s crust.


  1. Gaseous Cycles:

Water Cycle (Hydrologic)

The hydrologic cycle is the continuous circulation of water in the Earth-atmosphere system which is driven by solar energy.

Water moves from one reservoir to another by the processes of evaporation,

transpiration, condensation, precipitation, deposition, runoff,

infiltration, and groundwater flow.


  1. The Carbon Cycle

without carbon dioxide life could not exist, because it is vital for the production of carbohydrates through photosynthesis by plants. It is the element that anchors all organic substances from coal and oil to DNA(deoxyribonudeic acid: the compound that caries genetic information) Carbon cycle involves a continuous exchange of carbon between the atmosphere and organisms. Carbon from the atmosphere moves to green plants by the process   of photosynthesis, and then to animals. By process of respiration and decomposition of dead organic matter it returns back to atmosphere.


  1. The Nitrogen Cycle

an essential constituent of protein and is a basic building block of all living tissue. It constitutes nearly 16% by weight of all the proteins.

There is an inexhaustible supply of nitrogen in the atmosphere but the elemental form cannot be used directly by most of the living organisms needs to be ‘fixed’, that is, converted to ammonia, nitrites or nitrates, before it can be taken up by plants. on earth it is accomplished in three different ways:

(i) By microorganisms (bacteria and blue-green algae)


(ii) By man using industrial processes (fertilizerfactories) and

(iii) To a limited extent by atmospheric phenomenon such as thunder and lighting

The amount of Nitrogen fixed by man through industrial process has far

exceeded the amount fixed by the Natural Cycle.

As a result Nitrogen has become a pollutant which can disrupt the balance of

nitrogen. It may lead to Acid rain, Eutrophication and Harmful Algal Blooms.

Certain microorganisms are capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen into

ammonium ions. These include free living nitrifying bacteria (e.g. aerobic

Azotobacter and anaerobic Clostridium) and symbiotic nitrifying bacteria living in  association with leguminous plants(pulse etc) and symbiotic bacteria    living in non leguminous root nodule plants (e.g. Rhizobium) as well as blue green algae (e.g. Anabaena, Spirulina).

Ammonium ions can be directly taken up as a source of nitrogen by some plants, or are oxidized to nitrites or nitrates by two groups of specialised bacteria:

Nitrosamines bacteria promote transformation of ammonia into nitrite. Nitrite is then further transformed into nitrate by the bacteria Nitrobacter.

The nitrates synthesised by bacteria in the soil are taken up by plants and converted into amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.

These then go through higher trophic levels of the ecosystem.

During excretion and upon the death of all organisms nitrogen is returned to the soil in the form of ammonia.

Certain quantity of soil nitrates, being highly soluble in water, is lost to the system by being transported away by surface run-off or ground water. In the soil as well as oceans there are special denitrifying bacteria (e.g. Pseudomonas), which convert the nitrates/nitrites to elemental nitrogen. This nitrogen escapes into the atmosphere, thus  completing the cycle.

The periodic thunderstorms convert the gaseous nitrogen in the atmosphere to ammonia and nitrates which eventually reach the earth’s surface through precipitation and then into the soil to be utilized by plants.(Better if You Check Diagram)

  1. Sedimentary Cycle

Phosphorus, calcium and magnesium circulate by means of the sedimentary cycle.

(a) Phosphorus Cycle

Phosphorus plays a central role in aquatic ecosystems and water quality.

Phosphorus occurs in large amounts as a mineral in phosphate rocks and enters the cycle from erosion and minning activities.

This is the nutrient considered to be the main cause of excessive growth of rooted and free-floating microscopic plants in lakes.

The main storage for phosphorus is in the earth’s crust.

On land phosphorus is usually found in the form of phosphates.

By the process of weathering and erosion phosphates enter rivers and streams that transport them to the ocean.

In the ocean once the phosphorus accumulates on continental shelves in the form of insoluble deposits

After millions of years, the crustal plates rise from the sea floor and expose the phosphates on land.

After more time, weathering will release them from rock and the cycle’s

geochemical phase begins again.

(b) Sulphur Cycle

The sulphur reservoir is in the soil and sediments where it is locked in organic

(coal, oil and peat) and inorganic deposits (pyrite rock and sulphur rock) in the

form of sulphates, sulphides and organic sulphur.


It is released by weathering of rocks, erosional runoff and decomposition of organic matter and is carried to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in salt solution.

The sulphur cycle is mostly sedimentary except two of its compounds hydrogen sulphide

(H2S) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) add a gaseous component to its normal sedimentary cycle.

Atmospheric sulphur dioxide is carried back to the earth after being dissolved in rainwater as weak sulphuric acid.

sulphur in the form of sulphates is take up by plants and incorporate through a series of metabolic processes into sulphur bearing amino acid which is incorporated in the  proteins of autotroph tissues. It then passes through the grazing food chain.

Sulphur bound in living organism is carried back to the soil, to the bottom of ponds and lakes and seas through excretion and decomposition of dead organic material.



a universal process of directional change in vegetation, on an ecological time scale. occurs when a series of communities replace one another due to large scale destruction either natural or manmade.

continously -one community replacing another community, until a stable, mature community develops.

The first plant to colonise an area is called the pioneer community. The final stage of succession iscalled the climax community.

The stage leading to the climax community are called successional stages

or seres. characterised by the following: increased productivity, the shift of nutrients from’ the reservoirs, increased diversity of organisms with increased niche development, and a gradual increase in the complexity of food webs.

Primary Succession

In primary succession on a terrestrial site the new site is first colonized by a few hardy pioneer species that are often microbes, lichens and mosses.

The pioneers through their death any decay leave patches of organic matter in which small animals can live.

The organic matter produced by these pioneer species produce organic adds during decomposition that dissolve and etch the substratum releasing nutrients to the substratum. Organic debris accumulates in pockets and crevices, providing soil  in which seeds can become lodged and grow.

As the community of organisms continues to develop, it becomes more diverse and competition increases, but at the same time new niche opportunities develops.

The pioneer species disappear as the habitat conditions change and invasion of new species progresses, leading to the replacement of the preceding community.

Secondary Succession

Secondary Succession occurs when plants recognize an area in which the climax community has been disturbed.

Secondary Succession  is the sequential development of biotic communities after the complete or partial destruction of the existing community.

This abandoned farmland is first invaded by hardy species of grasses that can survive in bare, sun-baked soil. These grasses may be soon joined by tall grasses and herbaceous plants.

These dominate the ecosystem for some years along with mice, rabbits, insects and seed- eating birds.


Eventually, some trees come up in this area, seeds of which may be brought by wind or animals. And over the years, a forest community develops. Thus an abandoned farmland over a period becomes dominated by trees and is transformed into a forest.

The differences between primary and secondary succession, the secondary succession starts on a well-developed soil already formed at the site. Thus secondary succession is relatively faster as compared to primary succession which may often require hundreds of years.

Autogenic and Allogenic Succession

When succession is brought about by living inhabitants of that community itself, the process is called autogenic succession, while change brought about by outside forces is known as allogenic succession.

Autotrophic and Heterotrophic succession

Succession in which, initially the green plants are much greater in quantity is known as autotrophic succession;  and the ones in which the heterotrophs are greater in quantity is known as heterotrophic succession.

Succession would occur faster in area existing in the middle of the large continent. This is because, here all prop gules or seeds of plants belonging to the different seres would reach much faster, establish and ultimately result in climax community.




The interrelations between organisms and environment on the land constitute “Terrestrial Ecology”.

The most important limiting factors of the terrestrial ecosystems are moisture and temperature.




The word tundra means a “barren land” since they are found where environmental conditions are very severe. There are two types of tundra- arctic and alpine.


Arctic tundra extends as a continuous belt below the polar ice cap and above the tree line in the northern hemisphere. It occupies the northern fringe of Canada, Alaska, European Russia, Siberia and island group of Arctic Ocean.

On the south pole, tundra is very small since most of it is covered by ocean .

Alpine tundra occurs at high mountains above the tree line. Since mountains are found at all latitudes therefore alpine tundra shows day and night temperature variations.

Flora and fauna:

Typical vegetation of arctic tundra is cotton grass, sedges, dwarf heath, willows, birches and lichens.

Animals of tundra are reindeer, musk ox, arctic hare, caribous, lemmings and squirrel.

They are protected from chillness by the presence of thick cuticle and epidermal hair.

Mammals of the tundra region have large body size and small tail and ear to avoid the loss of heat from the surface.

The body is covered with fur for insulation.




Forest ecosystem includes a complex assemblage of different kinds of biotic communities. Optimum conditions such as temperature and ground moisture are responsible for the establishment of forest communities.

Forests may be evergreen or deciduous which are distinguished on the basis of leaf into broad-leafed or needle leafed coniferous forests in the case of temperate areas. classified into three major categories: coniferous forest, temperate forest and tropical forest.

All these forest biomes are generally arranged on a gradient from north to south latitude or from high to lower altitude


Coniferous forest (boreal forest):

Cold regions with high rainfall, strong seasonal climates with long winters and short summers

evergreen plant species such as Spruce, fir and pine trees, etc and by animals such as the lynx, wolf, bear, red fox, porcupine, squirrel, and amphibians like Hyla, Rana, etc.

Boreal forest soils are characterized by thin podozols and are rather poor. Both because, the weathering of rocks proceeds slowly in cold environments and because the litter derived from conifer needle (leaf  is decomposed very slowly and is not rich in nutrients.

These soils are acidic and are mineral deficient.

This is due to movement of large amount of water through the soil, without a significant counter-upward movement of evaporation, essential soluble nutrients like calcium, nitrogen and potassium which are leached sometimes beyond the reach of roots. This process leaves no alkaline oriented cations to encounter the organic acids of the accumulating litter.

The productivity and community stability of a boreal forest are lower than those of any other forest ecosystem.

Temperate deciduous forest:

The temperate forests are characterised by a moderate climate and broad-leafed deciduous trees, which shed their leaves in fall, are bare over winter and grow new foliage in the spring.

The precipitation is fairly uniform throughout.

Soils of temperate forests are podozolic and fairly deep.

Temperate evergreen forest:

Parts of the world that have Mediterranean type of Climate are characterised by warm, dry summers and cool, moist winters. low broad leafed evergreen trees.

Fire is an important hazardous factor in this ecosystem and the adaptation of the plants enable them to regenerate quickly after being burnt.

Temperate rain forests:

seasonality with regard to temperature and rainfall

Rainfall is high, and fog may be very heavy. It is the important source of water than rainfall itself

The biotic diversity of temperate rain forests is high as compared to other temperate forest.

the diversity of plants and animals is much low as compared to the tropical rainforest.


Tropical rain forests:


Near the equator.

Among the most diverse and rich communities on the earth.

Both temperature and humidity remain high and more or less uniform.

The annual rainfall exceeds 200 cm and is generally distributed throughout the year.

The flora is highly diversified The extreme dense vegetation of the tropical rain  forests remains vertically stratified with tall trees often covered with vines, creepers,   lianas, epiphytic orchids and bromeliads.

The lowest layer is an understory of trees,  shrubs, herbs, like ferns and palms.

Soil of tropical rainforests are red latosols, and they are very thick

Tropical seasonal forests:

also known as monsoon forest occur in regions where total annual rainfall is very high but segregated into pronounced wet and dry periods.

This kind of forest is found in South East Asia, central and south America, northern Australia, western Africa and tropical islands of the pacific as well as in India.

Subtropical rain forests:

Broad-leaved evergreen subtropical rain forests are found in regions of fairly high rainfall but less temperature differences between winter and summer

Epiphytes are common here.

Animal life of subtropical forest is very similar to that of tropical rainforests.



Forest types in India are classified by Champion and Seth into sixteen types.


Tropical Wet evergreen forests

are found along the Western Ghats, the Nicobar and Andaman Islands and all  along the north-eastern region.

It is characterized by tall, straight evergreen trees.

The trees in this forest form a tier pattern:

Beautiful fern of various colours and different varieties of orchids grow on the trunks of the trees.

Among the following States, which one has the most suitable climatic conditions for the cultivation of a large variety of orchids with minimum cost of production, and can develop

Tropical Semi-evergreen forests

found in the Western Ghats, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Eastern


Such forests have a mixture of the wet evergreen trees and the moist

deciduous trees. The forest is dense

Tropical Moist deciduous forests

found throughout India except in the western and the north -western regions.

The trees are tall, have broad trunks, branching trunks and roots to hold them firmly to the ground.

These forests are dominated by sal and teak, along with mango, bamboo, and rosewood.

Littoral and swamp

found along the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the delta area of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra.

They have roots that consist of soft tissue so that the plant can breathe in the water.

Tropical Dry deciduous forest

The northern part of the country except in the North-East. It is also found in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. The canopy, of the trees does not normally exceed 25 metres.

The common trees are the sal, a variety of acacia, and bamboo.

Tropical Thorn forests

This type is found in areas with black soil: North, West, Central, and South India. The trees do not grow beyond 10 metres. Spurge, caper, and cactus are typical of this region.

Tropical Dry evergreen forest

Dry evergreens are found along Tamil Nadu Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka coast. It is mainly hard-leaved evergreen trees with fragrant flowers, along with a few  deciduous trees.

Sub-tropical Broad-leaved forests

Broad-leaved forests are found in the Eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats, along the Silent Valley.

There is a marked difference in the form of vegetation in the two areas.

In the Silent Valley, the  poonspar, cinnamon, rhododendron, and fragrant grass are predominant.

In the Eastern Himalayas, the flora has been badly affected by the shifting cultivation and forest fires.

There are oak, alder, chestnut, birch, and cherry trees. There are a large variety of orchids, bamboo and creepers.

Sub-tropical Pine forests

found in Shivalik Hills, Western and Central Himalayas, Khasi, Naga, and Manipur Hills.

The trees predominantly found in these areas are the chir, oak, rhododendion, and   pine as well as sal, amla, and laburnum are found in the lower regions.


Sub-tropical Dry evergreen forests

hot and dry season and a cold winter. It generally has evergreen trees with shining

leaves that have a varnished look.

found in the Shivalik Hills and foothills of the Himalayas up to a height of 1000 metres.

Montane Wet temperate forests

In the North, found in the region to the east of Nepal into Arunachal Pradesh, receiving a minimum rainfall of 2000 mm. In the North, there are three layers of    forests: the higher layer has mainly coniferous, the middle layer has deciduous trees such as the oak and the lowest layer is covered by rhododendron and champa.

In the South, it is found in parts of the Niligiri Hills, the higher reaches of Kerala.

The forests in  the northern region are denser than in the South. Rhododendrons and a

variety of ground flora can be found here.

Himalayan Moist temperate Forest

This type spreads from the Western Himalayas to the Eastern Himalayas. The trees

found in the western section are broad-leaved oak, brown oak, walnut,


Eastern Himalayas, the rainfall is much heavier and therefore the vegetation is also more lush and dense. There are a large variety of broad-leaved trees, ferri, and  bamboo.

Himalayan Dry temperate Forest

This type is found in Lahul, Kinnaur, Sikkim, and other parts of the Himalayas.

There are predominantly coniferous trees, along with broad-leaved trees such as the oak, maple, and ash. At higher elevation, fir, juniper, deodar, and chilgoza are found.


Sub alpine forest

Sub alpine forests extend from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh between 2900 to 3500 metres.

In the Western Himalayas, the vegetation consists mainly of juniper, hododendron, willow, and black currant.

In the eastern parts, red fir, black juniper, birch, and larch are the common trees.

Due to heavy rainfall and high humidity the timberline in this part is higher than that in the West.

Rhododendron of many species covers the hills in these parts.

Moist Alpine scrub

Moist alpines are found all along the Himalayas and on the higher hills near the Myanmar border. It has a low scrub, dense evergreen forest, consisting mainly of rhododendron and birch. Mosses and ferns cover the ground in patches. This region receives heavy snowfall.

Dry alpine scrub

Dry alpines are found from about 3000 metres to about 4900 metres. Dwarf plants predominate, mainly the black juniper, the drooping juniper, honeysuckle, and willow.


found where rainfall is about 25-75 cm per year, not enough to support a forest, but more than that of a true desert.

vegetation formations that are generally found in temperate climates.

In India, they are found mainly in the high Himalayas. The rest of India’s grasslands are mainly composed of steppes and savannas.

Steppe formations occupy large areas of sandy and saline soil; in western Rajasthan, where the climate is semi-arid,

The major difference between steppes and savannas is that all the forage in the steppe is  provided only during the brief wet season whereas in the savannas forage is largely from grasses that not only grow during the wet season but also from the  smaller amount of regrowth in the dry season.


Types of Grasslands

  1. semi-arid zone (The Sehima-dichanthium type)

It covers the northern portion of Gujarat, Rajasthan (excluding Aravallis), western Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Punjab.

The topography is broken up by hill spurs and sand dunes.

senegal, Calotropis gigantia, Cassia auriculata, Prosopis cineraria, Salvadora oloides and zizyphus Nummularia which make the savanna rangeland look like scrub.

  1. dry sub humid zone (The Dichanthium- cenchrus-lasitrrus type)

It covers the whole of peninsular India (except Nilgiri).

The thorny bushes are Acacia catechu, Mimosa, Zizyphus (ber) and sometimes fleshy Euphorbia, along with low trees of Anogeissus latifolia, Soymida febrifuga and other deciduous species.

Sehima (grass)is more prevalent on gravel and the cover maybe 27%. Dichanthium (grass) flourishes on level soils and may cover 80% of the ground.

3)  moist subhumid zone(The Phragmities- sacchrum-imperata type)

It covers the Ganga alluvial plain in Northern India.

The topography is level, low lying and ill-drained.

Bothriochloa pertusa, Cypodon dactylon and     Dichanthium annulatum are found in transition zones.

The common trees and shrubs are Acacia arabica, hogeissus, latifolia, Butea monosperma,

Phoenic sylvestris and Zizyphus nummularia.

Some of these are replaced by Borassus sp in the palm savannas especially near Sunderbans.

4) The Themeda – Arundinella type

This extends to the humid montane regions and moist sub-humid axeas of Assam, Manipur,West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and. Jammu and Kashmir.

The savanna is derived from the humid forests on account of shifting cultivation and sheep grazing.

Indian Grasslands and Fodder Research Institute, Jhansi and Central Arid Zone Research institute, Jodhpur

Role of fire

fire plays, an important role in the management  of grasslands.

Under moist conditions fire favours grass over trees, whereas in dry conditions fire is often necessary to maintain grasslands against the invasion of desert shrubs.

Burning increases the forage yields, e.g. Cynodon daotylon



Deserts are formed in regions with less than 25 cm of annual rainfall, .or sometimes in hot regions where there is more rainfall, but unevenly distributed in the annual cycle.

Lack’ of rain in the mid latitude is often due to stable high pressure zones; deserts in temperate regions often lie in “rain shadows”, that is where high mountains block off moisture from the seas.

The climate:of these biomes is modified by altitUde and latitude. At greater distance from the equator the deSerts are cold and hot near equator and tropics.

As the large volume of water passes through the irrigation system, salts may be left behind that will gradually accumulate over the years until they become limiting, unless means of avoiding this difficulty are devised


(i)  These plants conserve water by following methods:

They are mostly shrubs. Leaves are absent or reduced in size.

Leaves and stem are succulent and water storing.

In some plants even the stem contains chlorophyll for photosynthesis.

Root system is well developed and spread over large area.

The annuals wherever present germinate, bloom and reproduce only during the short rainy season, and not in summer and winter.

(ii) The animals are physiologically and behaviorally adapted to desert conditions.

They are fast runners.

They are nocturnal in habit to avoid the sun’s heat during day time.

They conserve water by excreting concentrated urine.

Animals and birds usually have long legs to keep the body away from the hot ground.

Lizards are mostly insectivorous and can live without drinking water for several days.

Herbivorous animals get sufficient water from the seeds which they eat.

Mammals as a group are poorly adapted to  deserts

Indian Desert — Thar desert (hot)

The climate of this region is characterised by excessive drought, the rainfall being scanty and , irregular.

The winter rains of northern India rarely penetrate into the region.

The proper desert plants may be divided into two main groups.

  1. i) depending directly upon on rain and
  2. ii) those depending on the presence of subterranean water.

The first group consists of two types:

the ‘ephemera’s’ and the rain perennials’.

The ephemera’s are delicate annuals, apparently free from any xerophilous adaptations, having slender stems and root-systems and often large Flowers.

They appear almost immediately after rain, develop flowers and fruits in an incredibly short   time, and die as soon as the surface layer of the soil dries up.

The rain perennials are visible above the ground only during the rainy season, but have a perennial underground stem.

The second group – depending on the presence of subterranean water

By far the largest number of indigenous plants are capable of absorbing water from deep below the surface of the ground by means of a well-developed root system, the main part of which generally consists of a slender, woody tap root of extraordinary length.

Generally, various other xerophilous adaptations are resorted to such as reduced leaves, thick hairy growth, succulence, coatings of wax, thick cuticle, protected stomata, etc., all having for  their object of reduction of transpiration.



It is home to some of India’s most magnificent grasslands and sanctuary for a charismatic bird, the Great Indian Bustard. Among the mammal fauna, the blackbuck, wild ass, chinkara, caracal, Sandgrouse and desert fox inhabit the open plains, grasslands, and saline depressions.

The nesting ground of Flamingoes and the only known population of Asiatic wild Ass lies in the remote part of Great Rarm, Gujarat.

It is the migration flyway used by cranes and flamingos.

Some endemic flora species of Thar Desert includes Calligonum Polygonoides, Prosopis cineraria, Tecomella undulate, Cenchrus biflorus and Sueda fruticosa , etc


Cold Desert/ Temperate Desert

Cold desert of India include areas of ladak, leh and kargil of kashmir and spiti valley of Himachal  Pradesh and some parts of northern Uttaranchal and Sikkim. Lies in rain shadow of Himalaya Oak, pine, deodar, birch and rhododendron are the important trees and bushes found there. Major  animal include yaks, dwarf cows, and goats.

Severe arid conditions – Dry Atmosphere

Mean annual rainfall less than 400mm

Soil type – sandy to sandy loam , Soil pH – neutral to slight alkaline.

Soil nutrient – Poor organic matter content ,low water retention capacity


Cold desert is the home of highly adaptive, rare endangered fauna, such as

Asiatic Ibex, Tibetan Argali, Ladakh Uriyal, Bharal, Tibetan Antelope (chiru),

Tibetan Gazelle, Wild Yak, Snow Leopard, Brown Bear, Tibetan Wolf, Wild

Dog and Tibetan Wild Ass (‘Kiang’ a close relative of the Indian wild ass) ,

Woolly hare, Black Necked  Crane, etc.

India as a signatory to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

(UNCCD) has submitted four National Reports to UNCCD

in the years 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2010

Some of the major programmes currently implemented that address issues related to land degradation and desertification is:-

  1. Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP),
  2. National Afforestation Programme (NAP),
  3. National Mission for Green India (GIM),
  4. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme
  5. (MGNREGS),
  6. Soil Conservation in the Catchment of River Valley Project and Flood Prone River,
  7. National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA),
  8. Desert Development Programme (DDP)
  9. Fodder and Feed Development Scheme-component of Grassland Development including
  10. Grass Reserves, Command Area Development and Water Management (CADWM)  programme etc




Fresh water ecosystems- The salt content of fresh bodies is very low, always less than 5 ppt  (parts per thousand). E.g lakes, ponds, pools, springs, streams, and rivers

Marine ecosystems – the water bodies containing salt concentration equal to or above that of sea water (i.e., 35 ppt or above). E.g shallow seas and open ocean   Brackish water ecosystems- these water bodies have salt content in between 5 to 35 ppt. e.g. estuaries, salt marshes, mangrove swamps and forests.



The aquatic organisms are classified on the basis Of their one of occurrence and their ability to cross these zones. can be classified on the basis of their life form or location into five groups

  1. Neuston:

These are unattached organisms which live at the air-water interface such as floating plants, etc.

Some organisms spend most of their lives on top of the air-water interface such as water striders, while others spend most of their time just beneath the air-water interface and obtain most of their food within the water.

E.g., beetles and back-swimmers.

  1. Periphyton:

These are organisms which remain attached to stems and leaves of rooted plants or substances emerging above the bottom mud such as sessile algae and their associated group of animals.

  1. Plankton

This group includes both microscopic plants like algae (phytoplankton) and

animals like crustaceans and protozoans (zooplankton) found in all aquatic

ecosysteins, except certain swift moving waters

The locomotory power of the planktons is limited so that their distribution is

controlled, largely, by currents in the aquatic ecosystems.

  1. Nekton:

This group contains animals which are  swimmers.

The nektons are relatively large and powerful as they have to overcome the water currents.

  1. Benthos:

The benthic organisms are those found living in the bottom of the water mass.

Practically every aquatic ecosystem contains well developed benthos

Factors Limiting the Productivity of Aquatic Habitats

  1. Sunlight :

Sunlight penetration rapidly diminishes as it passes down the column of water.

The depth to which light penetrates a lake determines the extent of plant distribution.

Based on light penetration and plant distribution they are classified as photic and aphotic zones

Photic zone:

It is the upper layer of the aquatic ecosystems, up to which light penetrates and within which photosynthetic activity is confined.

The depth of this zone depends on the transparency of water.

photic (or .”euphotic”) zone is the lighted and usually well-mixed portion that extends from the lake surface down to where the light level is 1% of that at the surface.

Aphotic zone:

The lower layers of the aquatic ecosystems, where light penetration and plant growth are restricted forms the aphotic zone.

Only respiration activity takes place.(photic-both respiration and photosynthesis take place )

Aphotic zone is positioned below the littoral and photic zones to bottom of the lake where light levels are too low for photosynthesis.

This deep, unlit region is also known as the profundal zone.

Dissolved oxygen:

Oxygen enters the aquatic ecosystem through the air water interface and by the photosynthetic. average concentration of dissolved oxygen as 10 parts per million by weight.

Dissolved oxygen escapes the water body through air-water interface and through respiration of organisms (fish, decomposers, zooplanktons, etc )

The amount of dissolved oxygen retained in water is also influenced by temperature.

Other limiting factors which influence on aquatic productivity are


Transparency affects the extent of light penetration.

Suspended particulate matters such as clay, silt, phytoplankton, etc make the water turbidity. Consequently it limits the extent of light penetration and the photosynthetic activity in a significant way.


The water temperature changes less rapidly than the temperature of air because water has a considerably higher specific heat than air.

Since water temperatures are less subject to change, the aquatic organisms have narrow temperature tolerance limit.


Any – body of standing water, generally large enough in area and depth, irrespective of its hydrology, ecology, and other characteristics is generally known as lake.

Ageing of Lakes

The nutrient enrichment of the lakes promotes the growth of algae, aquatic plants and various fauna. This process is known as natural eutrophication.

Similar nutrient enrichment of lakes at an accelerated rate is caused by human activities and the consequent ageing phenomenon is known as ‘cultural eutrophication’.

In India, natural lakes (relatively few) mostly ile in the Himalayan region, the floodplains of Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra.

Lake ‘Sudarshan’ in Gujarat’s Girnar area was perhaps the oldest man-made lake in India, dating back to 300 BC.

Lakes are also classified on the basis of their water chemistry. Based-on the levels of salinity, they are known as Freshwater, Brackish or Saline lakes (similar to that of classification of aquatic ecosystem).

On the basis of their nutrient content, they are categorized as Oligotrophic (very low nutrients), Mesotrophic (moderate nutrients) and Eutrophic (highly nutrient rich).

Removal of the nutrients from a lake

  • Flushing with nutrient-poor waters.
  • Deep water abstraction.
  • On-site P-elimination by flocculation/flotation with water backflow, or floating Plant
  • NESSIE with adsorbents.
  • On-site algae removal by filters and P-adsorbers.
  • 0n-site algae skimming and separator thickening.
  • Artificial mixing / Destratification (permanent or intermittent).
  • Harvest of fishes and macrophytes.
  • Sludge removal


a syndrome of ecosystem, response to the addition of artificial or natural substances such as nitrates and phosphates through fertilizer, sewage, etc that fertilize the aquatic ecosystem.

The growth of green algae which we see in the lake surface layer is the physical identification of an Eutrophication.

Some algae and blue-green bacteria thrive on the excess ions and a population explosion covers almost entire surface layer is known as algal bloom.  Nitrogen testing is a technique to find the optimum amount of fertilizer required for crop plants. It will reduce the amount of nitrogen lost to the surrounding area.




Algae or phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that can be found naturally in coastal waters. They are major producers of oxygen and food for many of the animals that live in these waters.

Algal blooms can be any color, but the most common ones are red or brown.

Most algal blooms are not harmful but some produce toxins and do affect fish, birds, marine mammals and humans.

Use of algae

Most species of algae or phytoplankton serve as the energy producers at the base of the food web, without which higher life on this planet would not exist.

Why Red Tide is a misnomer?

“Red Tide” is a common name for such a phenomenon where certain

phytoplankton species contain pigments and “bloom” such that the human eye perceives the water to be discoloured.

Blooms can appear greenish, brown, and even reddish orange depending upon the type of organism, the type of water, and the concentration of the organisms.

The term “red tide” is thus a misnomer because blooms are not always red, they are not associated with tides, they are usually not harmful, and some species can be harmful or dangerous at low cell concentrations that do not discolour the water.

What are the causes of these blooms?

Two common causes are nutrient enrichment and warm waters.



Areas of marsh, fen, peatland/water, whether natural (or) artificial, permanent (or) temporary with water that is static (or) flowing, fresh, brackish (or) salt, including areas of marine

water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed 6 mtrs.

Wetlands Classification-

  1. Inland wetland-

a)Natural- Lakes / Ponds, Ox-bow Lakes, Waterlogged, Swamp/marsh

  1. b) Manmade- Reservoirs Tank, Ash pond
  2. Costal Wetland-
  3. A) Natural- Coral reef, Tidal flat, Mangroves, Salt marsh, Estuary, Lagoon, Creek,

Backwater, Bay

b)-manmade -• Salt pans, Aquculture

Functions of Wetlands-

  • Habitat to aquatic flora and fauna, birds
  • Filtration of sediments and nutrients from surface water,
  • Nutrients recycling, Water purification Floods mitigation,
  • Ground water recharging, Buffer shorelines against erosion,
  • Genetic reservoir for various species of plants(rice)
  • the National Lake Conservation Programme (NLCP) considers lakes as standing water
  • bodies which have a minimum water depth of 3 m, generally cover a water spread of more than ten hectares, and have no or very little aquatic vegetation.
  • Wetlands (generally less than 3 m deep over most of their area) are usually rich in nutrients (derived from surroundings and their sediments) and have .abundant growth of aquatic macrophytes

India’s Wetland

Wetlands occupy 18.4% of the country’s area of which 70% are under paddy cultivation.

Inland wetlands >Costal Wetlands


National Wetlands Conservation Programme (NWCP)

  • NWCP was implemented in the year 1985-86.
  • Under the programme, 115 wetlands have been identified by the Ministry which require urgent conservation and management interventions.


  • Conservation of wetlands to prevent their further degradation and ensuring their wise
  • use for the benefit of local communities and overall conservation of biodiversity.


  • to lay down policy guidelines for conservation and management of wetlands in the country.
  • to provide financial assistance for undertaking intensive conservation measures in the identified wetlands
  • The Central Government is responsible for overall coordination of wetland
  • conservation programmes and initiatives at the international and national levels. It also provides guidelines, financial& technical assistance to state govt.
  • State Governments/UT Administration are responsible for management of wetlands and implementation of the NWCP for ensuring their wise-use


Criteria for Identification of Wetlands of National Importance

Criteria for identification of wetlands of national importance under NWCP are same as those prescribed under the ‘Ramsar Convention on Wetlands’ and are as given below:

  1. Sites containing representative, rare or unique wetland types

example of a natural or near-natural wetland type’ found within the appropriate biogeographic region.

  1. Criteria based on species and ecological communities
  • If it supports vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species; or
  • threatened ecological communities.
  • If it supports populations of plant and/or animal species important for maintaining the biological diversity of a particular biogeographic region.
  • If it supports plant and/or animal species at a critical stage in their life cycles, or provides refuge during adverse conditions.


  1. Specific criteria based on water birds
  • If it regularly supports 20,000 or more water birds.
  • If it regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of waterbirds.


  1. Specific criteria based on fish
  • If it supports a significant proportion of indigenous fish subspecies, species or families, life-history stages,  species  interactions  and/or  populations  that  are representative of wetland benefits and/or values and thereby contributes to global biological diversity.
  • If it is an important source of food for fishes, spawning ground, nursery and/or migration path on which fish stocks, either within the wetland or elsewhere, depend.
  1. Specific criteria based on water/life and culture
  • If it is an important source of food and water resource, increased possibilities for recreation  and eco-tourism, improved scenic values, educational opportunities, conservation of cultural heritage (historic or religious sites)



  • located where river meets the sea.
  • the most productive water bodies in the world
  • The complete salinity range from 0-35 ppt is seen from the head (river end) to the mouth (sea end) of an estuary
  • Coastal lakes which have their connection with the sea through small openings are better known as lagoons or backwaters acting as a natural water filter


Estuary Formation:

grouped into four geomorphic categories based on the physical processes responsible for their formation:

1) rising sea level; (2) movement of sand and sandbars; (3) glacial processes; and (4) tectonic processes.

India Estuarine Ecosystem

The Country has 14 major, 44 medium and 162 minor rivers drains into the sea through various estuaries.

Major estuaries occur in the Bay of Bengal.

Most of the India’s major estuaries occur on the east coast. In contrast, the estuaries on the west coast are smaller.



are the characteristic littoral plant formation of tropical and subtropical sheltered coastlines.

are trees and bushes growing below the high water level of spring tides which exhibits remarkable capacity for salt water tolerance.

basically evergreen land plants growing on sheltered shores, typically on tidal flats, deltas, estuaries, bays, creeks and the barrier islands. require high solar radiation and have the ability to absorb fresh water from saline/ brackish water. produces pneumatophores (blind roots) to overcome respiration problem in the anaerobic soil conditions

  • Leaves are thick and contain salt secreting glands.
  • exhibit viviparity mode of reproduction. i.e. SeedS germinate in the tree itself (before falling to the ground). This is an adaptative medianiSintoovercome the problem of germination in Saline water.
  • crystals of salt on the back of the leaves; others block absorption of salt at their roots

The mangroves of Sundarbans are the largest single block of tidal holophytic mangroves of the world. famous for the Royal Bengal Tiger and crocodiles.

The mangroves of Bhitarkanika (Orissa), which is the second largest in the Indian sub continent, harbour high concentration of typical mangrove species and high genetic diversity have (additional) special roots such as prop roots, pneumatophores  which help to impede water flow and thereby enhance the deposition of sediment in areas (where it is already occurring), stabilize the coastal shores, provide breeding ground for fishes. protects coastal lands from tsunami, hurricanes:and floods release oxygen back to the atmosphere, along with a little methane gas



Coral is actually a living animal.

has a symbiotic relationship (each gives something to the other and gets something back in return) With ‘zooxanthellae’ microscopic algae which live on coral [i.e. instead of living on the sea  floor, the algae lives up on the coral which is closer to the ocean surface and so that the algae gets lots of light.

The tissues of corals themselves are actually not the beautiful colors of the coral reef, but are instead clear (white). The corals receive their  coloration from the zooxanthellae living within their tissues.

  • There are two types of corals: hard corals and soft corals, such as sea fans and gorgonians. Only hard corals build reefs.
  • The builders of coral reefs are tiny animals called polyps. As these polyps thrive, grew, then die, they leave their limestone (calcium carbonate) skeletons behind. The limestone is colonized by new polyps.
  • found in tropical and sub-tropical water, there are also deep water corals in colder regions
  • The United Nations Environment Programme reports that there are more cold water coral reefs worldwide than tropical reefs.
  • There are only about 6 different coral species associated in building with these reefs.
  • The largest cold-water coral reef is the Rost ‘Reef off Norway occur in shallow tropical areas where the sea water is clean, clear and warm.
  • one of the most productive and complex coastal ecosystems with high biological diversity classified depending on their locations into fringing, patch, barrier and atoll.
  • The fringing reefs are contiguous with the shore and they are the most common – by occurring reef form, found in Andamans.
  • Patch reefs are isolated and discontinuous patches, lying shoreward of offshore reef structures as seen in the Palk bay, Gulf of Mannar and Gulf of Katchchh.
  • Barrier reefs are linear offshore reef structures that run parallel to coastlines and arise from submerged shelf platforms. The water body between the reef and the shore is termed as lagoon. Barrier reefs are seen in Nicobar and Lakshadweep.
  • Atolls are circular or semi-circular reefs that arise from subsiding sea floor platforms as coral reef building keeps ahead of subsidence. The examples are the atolls of Lakshadweep and Nicobar.
  • Among the four major reef areas of India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands are found to be very rich in species diversity followed by the Lakshadweep Islands, the Gulf of Mannar and finally the Gulf of Kachchh.



Coral Bleaching


Bleaching, or the paling of coral colour occurs; when (i) the densities of zooxanthellae decline and (ii) the concentration of photosynthetic pigments within the zooxanthellae fall.

Ecological causes of coral bleaching

  • Temperature (Major Cause)
  • Sub aerial Exposure-Sudden exposure of reef flat corals to the atmosphere during events such as extreme low tides, ENSO-related sea level drops or tectonic uplift can potentially induce bleaching.
  • Sedimentation
  • Fresh Water Dilution
  • Inorganic Nutrients(e.g. ammonia and nitrate)
  • Xenobiotics -Zooxanthellae loss occurs during exposure of coral to elevated concentrations of various chemical contaminants, such as Cu, herbicides and oil.
  • Epizootics




  1. Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMAPS)
  • Being implemented from 1991. Assesses the health of coastal waters and facilitates management of pollution-related issues
  • Programme was restructured and modified in 2000 2001 to include pollution monitoring; liaison, regulation and legislation; and consultancy services.

2.Land Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ)


  • Launched in 1995. Investigates the effects of global change on the coastal zone
  • Aims to develop, on a scientific basis, the integrated management of coastal environments
  1. Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management (ICMAM)
  • Launched in 1998
  • Aims at integrated management of coastal and marine areas.
  • Model plans for Chennai, Goa and Gulf of Kutch being prepared
  1. Society of  Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM)
  • Launched in 2010
  • Major national initiative to protect coastal ecosystems
  • A professional body with experts in various aspects of coastal science and management
  1. Institutions for Coastal Management
  • The Notification on Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), 1991 (as amended from time to time) aims at protecting coastal stretches in India.
  • India has created institutional mechanisms such as National Coastal Zone Management
  • Authority (NCZMA) and State Coastal Zone Management Authority (SCZMA) for enforcement and monitoring of the CRZ Notification.
  • These authorities have been delegated powers under Section 5 of the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 to take various measures for protecting and improving the quality-of the coastal environment and preventing, abating  and controlling environmental pollution in coastal areas.






defined as ‘an addition or excessive addition of certain materials to the physical environment (water, air and lands), making it less fit or unfit for life’.

Pollutants are the materials or factors, which cause adverse effect on the natural quality of any component of the environment.


  1. According to the form in which they persist after release into the environment.
  • Primary pollutants: These persist in the form in which they are added to the environment e.g. DDT, plastic.
  • Secondary Pollutants: These are formed by interaction among the primary pollutants. For example, peroxyacetyl nitrate (PAN) is formed by the interaction of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons.
  1. According to their existence in nature.
  • Quantitative Pollutants: These occur in nature and become pollutant when their concentration reaches beyond a threshold level. E.g. carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide.
  • Qualitative Pollutants: These do not occur in nature and are man-made. E.g. fungicides, herbicides, DDT etc.
  1. According to their nature of disposal.
  • Biodegradable Pollutants: Waste products, which are degraded by microbial action. E.g. sewage.
  • Non-biodegradable Pollutants: Pollutants, which are not decomposed by microbial action. E.g. plastics, glass, DDT, salts of heavy metals, radioactive substances etc
  1. According to origin
  • Natural
  • Anthropogenic



aggravated because of four developments:

Increasing traffic, growing cities, rapid economic development, and industrialization

contamination of air by the discharge of harmful substances


Major air pollutants and their sources

  1. Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • It is a colourless, odourless gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of carbon – based fuels including petrol, diesel, and wood.
  • It is also produced from the combustion of natural and synthetic products such as cigarettes.

It lowers the amount of oxygen that enters our blood. It can

  • slow our reflexes and make us confused and sleepy.
  1. Carbon dioxide (CO2)

principle greenhouse gas

  1. Chloroflorocarbons (CFC)
  • gases that are released mainly fromair-conditioning systems and refrigeration.
  • When released into the air, CFCs rise to the stratosphere, where they come in contact with few other gases, which lead to a reduction of the ozone layer that protects the earth from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.


  1. Lead

present in petrol, diesel, lead batteries, paints, hair dye products, etc.

affects children in particular. cause nervous system damage and digestive problems and, in some cases, cause cancer.


  1. Ozone
  • occurs naturally in the upper layers of the atmosphere.
  • at-the ground level, it is a pollutant with highly toxic effects.
  • Vehicles and industries are the major source of ground-level ozone emissions.
  • Ozone makes our eyes itch, burn, and water. It lowers our resistance to cold and pneumonia.


  1. Nitrogen oxide (Nox)
  • causes smog and acid rain. It is produced from burning fuels including petrol, diesel, and coal.
  • Nitrogen oxide can make children susceptible to respiratory diseases in winters.


  1. Suspended particulate matter (SPM)
  • consists of solids in the air in the form of smoke, dust, and vapour that can remain suspended for extended periods
  • The finer of these particles when breathed in can lodge in our lungs and cause lung damage and respiratory problems.


  1. Sulphur dioxide (S02)
  • a gas produced from burning coal, mainly in thermal power plants.
  • Some industrial processes, such as production of paper and smelting of metals, produce sulphur dioxide.
  • a major contributor to smog and acid rain.
  • Sulphur dioxide can lead to lung diseases


  1. Smog
  • a combination of the words fog and smoke. Smog is a condition of fog that had soot or smoke in it.
  • interaction of sunlight with certain chemicals in the atmosphere.
  • primary components of photochemical smog is ozone.
  • Ozone is formed through a complex reaction involving hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and sunlight. It is formed when pollutants released from gasoline, diesel- powered vehicles and oil-based solvents react with heat and sunlight from biofuels, the four most serious pollutants are particulates, carbon monoxide, polycyclic organic matter, and formaldehyde



  1. i) Volatile organic compounds

The main indoor sources are perfumes, hair sprays, furniture polish, glues, air

fresheners, moth repellents, wood preservatives, and other products.


  1. ii) Biological pollutants

It includes pollen from plants, mite, and hair from pets, fungi, parasites, and some bacteria.

iii) Formaldehyde

Mainly from carpets, particle boards, and insulation foam. It causes irritation to the eyes and nose and allergies.

  1. iv) Radon

It is a gas that is emitted naturally by the soil. Due to modern houses having poor ventilation, it is confined inside the house and causes lung cancers.


Fly Ash

Ash is produced whenever combustion of solid material takes place.


  1. Aluminium silicate (in.large amounts)
  2. silicon dioxide (Si02) and
  3. Calcium oxide (Ca0).

Fly ash particles are oxide rich and consist of silica, alumina, oxides of iron, calcium, and magnesium and toxic heavy metals like lead, arsenic, cobalt, and coppers


Policy measures of MoEF:

  • The Ministry of Environment and Forests vide its notification in 2009, has made it mandatory to use Fly Ash based products in all construction projects, road embankment works and low lying land filling works within 100 kms radius of Thermal Power Station.
  • To use Fly Ash in mine filling activities within 50 kms radius of Thermal Power Stations.
  • Arresters: These are used to separate particulate matters from contaminated air.
  • Scrubbers: These are used to clean air for both dusts and gases by passing it through a dry or wet packing material.

Government Initiatives

(1) National Air Quality Monitoring Programme

In India, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has been executing a nationwide programme of ambient air quality monitoring known as National Air Quality Monitoring

Programme (NAMP).

The National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP) is undertaken in India

(i) to determine status and trends of ambient air quality;

(ii) to ascertain the compliance of NAAQS;

(iii) to identify non-attainment cities;

(iv) to understand the natural process of cleaning in the atmosphere; and

(v) to undertake preventive and corrective measures.

Annual average concentration of SOx levels are within the prescribed National Ambient

Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) were notified in the year 1982, duly revised in 1994 based on health criteria and land uses .

The NAAQS have been revisited and revised in November 2009 for 12 pollutants, which include. sulphur dioxide (S02), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter having size less than 10 micron

(PM10),particulate matter having size less than 2.5micron (PM2.5), ozone, lead, carbon monoxide (CO), arsenic, nickel, benzene, ammonia, and. Benzopyrene.


Addition of certain substances to the water such as organic, inorganic,

biological, radiological, heat, which degrades the quality of water so that it

becomes unfit for use.

Putrescibility is the process of decomposition of organic matter present in water by microorganisms using oxygen.

Water having DO (dissolved oxygen)  content below 8.0 mg/L may be

considered as contaminated.  Water having DO content below. 4.0 mg/L is

considered to be highly polluted.

Water pollution by organic wastes is measured in terms of Biochemical Oxygen Demand-(BOD). BOD is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by bacteria in decomposing the organic wastes present in water.

Chemical oxygen demand (COD) is a slightly better mode used to measure pollution load in water. It is the measure of oxygen equivalent of the requirement of oxidation of total organic matter (i.e. biodegradable and non- biodegradable) present in water.

A cripling deformity called Minamata disease due to consumption of fish captured from mercury contaminated Minamata Bay.

Water contaminated with cadmium can cause itai itai disease also called ouch-ouch disease (a painful disease of bones and joints) and cancer of lungs and liver.

The compounds of lead cause anaemia, headache, loss of muscle power and bluish line around the gum

Excess nitrate in drinking water reacts with hemoglobin to form non -functional met haemoglobin, and impairs oxygen transport.  This condition  is  called methaemoglobinemia or blue baby syndrome.

Over exploitation of ground water may lead to leaching of arsenic from soil and rock sources and contaminate ground water.  Chronic exposure to arsenic causes black foot disease. It also causes diarrhoea,-peripheral neuritis, hyperkerotosis and also   lung and skin cancer.


Industrial waste includes chemicals such as mercury, lead, copper, zinc, cadmium, cynides, thiocynates, chromates, acids, alkalies, organic substances etc

Four R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle


Sound is measured in decibels (dB). An increase of about 10 dB is approximately double the increase in loudness.

A person’s hearing can be damaged if exposed to noise levels over 75 dB over a prolonged period of time.

The World Health Organization recommends that the sound level indoors should be less than 30 dB.

Ambient Noise Level Monitoring –   Noise Pollution (Control and Regulation) Rules, 2000 define ambient noise levels for various areas as follows-

  1. Industrial Area—75DB to 70Db (Day time-6am to 10pm and night time 10pm to 6am ..75 is day time and 70 is night time)
  2. Commercial Area–65 to 55
  3. Residential Area–55 to 45
  4. Silence Zone– 50  to 40
  • The Government of India on Mar 2011 launched a Real time Ambient Noise Monitoring Network.
  • Under this network, in phase- I, five Remote Noise Monitoring Terminals each have been installed in different noise zones in seven metros (Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Lucknow).

In Phase II another 35 monitoring stations will be installed in the same seven cities.

Phase III will cover installing 90 stations in 18 other cities.

Phase-III cities are Kanpur, Pune, Surat, Ahmedabad,  Nagpur, Jaipur,  Indore,

Bhopal, Ludhiana, Guwahati, Dehradun, Thiruvananthpuram, Bhubaneswar,

Patna, Gandhinagar, Ranchi, Amritsar and Raipur.

Silence Zone is an area comprising not less than 100 metres around hospitals, educational institutions, courts, religious places or any other t area declared as such by a competent authority.




Non-ionising radiations affect only those components which absorb them and have low penetrability.   They include short-wave radiations such as ultraviolet rays, which forms a part of solar radiation. Sunburns is due to these radiation Ionising radiations have high penetration power & cause breakage of macro molecules

They include X-rays, cosmic rays and atomic radiations -(radiations emitted by radioactive elements

Alpha particles, can be blocked by a piece of paper and human skin.

Beta particles can penetrate through skin, while can be blocked by some pieces of glass and metal.

Gamma rays can penetrate easily to human skin and damage cells on its way through, reaching far, and can only be blocked by a very thick, strong, massive piece of concrete radium-224, uranium-238, thorium-232, potassium-40, carbon-14, etc.

The nuclear arms use uranium-235 and plutonium-239 for fission and hydrogen or lithium as fusion material

The radio nuclides with long half-time are the chief source of environmental radioactive pollution.



E-waste is not hazardous if it is stocked in safe storage or recycled by scientific methods or transported from one place to the other in parts or in totality in the formal sector. The e-waste can be considered hazardous if recycled by primitive methods

Survey was carried out by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) during 2005

In India, among top ten cities; Mumbai ranks first in generating e-waste followed by Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmadabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Surat and Nagpur.



the discarded (abandoned or considered waste-like) materials

does not include solid or dissolved materials in domestic sewage, or

solid or dissolved materials in irrigation return flows or industrial discharges0

Conventional plastics have been associated with reproductive problems in both humans and wildlife.

Dioxin (highly carcinogenic and toxic) by-product of the manufacturing process is one of the chemicals believed to be passed on through breast milk to the nursing infant.

Burning of plastics, especially PVC releases this dioxin and also furan into the  atmosphere.

Pyrolysis-It is a process of combustion in absence of oxygen or the material burnt under controlled atmosphere of oxygen. It is an alternative to incineration. The gas and liquid thus obtained can be used as fuels.


Waste Minimization Circles (WMC)

helps Small and Medium Industrial Clusters in waste minimization in their industrial plants.  assisted by the World Bank with the Ministry of Environment and Forests acting   as the nodal ministry.  being implemented with the assistance of National   Productivity Council (NPC), New Delhi.

aims to realise the objectives of the Policy Statement for Abatement of Pollution (1992), which states that the government should educate citizens about environmental risks, the economic and health dangers of resource degradation and the real economic cost of natural resources.


the use of microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) to degrade the environmental contaminants into less toxic forms.


is use of plants to remove contaminants from soil and water .


  • a water remediation technique that involves the uptake of contaminants by plant roots.
  • used to reduce contamination in natural wetlands and estuary areas.



Notification on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of developmental

projects 1994 under the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 making EIA  mandatory for 29 categories of developmental projects. One more item was added to the list in January, 2000. environmental impact assessment statutory for 30 activities

Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 2006 has categorized the developmental projects  in two categories, i.e., Category A and Category B

Ministry of Environment & Forests

‘Category A’ projects are appraised at national level by expert appraisal committee

India has constituted the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC)  to decentralize the environmental clearance process

The objective of EIA is to foresee and address potential environmental problems/  concerns at an early stage of project planning and design.



The EIA notification establishes four stages for obtaining Environmental Clearance.

  1. Screening
  2. Scoping and consideration of alternatives Baseline data collection
  3. Impact prediction
  4. Assessment of alternatives, delineation of mitigation measures and environmental impact statement
  5. Public hearing
  6. Environment Management Plan Decision making
  7. Monitoring the clearance conditions

Screening- It is only for Categories B

Screening Criteria are based upon:

  • Scales of investment; • Type of development; and, •      Location of development

B1 Categories project require Environmental Impact Assessment while B2 category projects are exempted from EIA.

State Level Expert Appraisal Committee determine about project categories

Climate Change


  • It is the long term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time
  • Though it has been happening naturally for millions of years, in recent years it has accelerated due to anthropogenic causes and has been causing global warming.
  • UNFCCC defines climate change as – “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activitythat alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”


Climate Change Mitigation

  • Alternative Energy sources
    • Renewable energy
    • Nuclear Power
    • Reduce the carbon intensity of fossil fuels
  • Energy efficiency and conservation
    • Transport and urban planning
    • Building design
    • Reforestation and avoid deforestation
    • Eliminating waste methane
  • Geoengineering
    • Greenhouse gas remediation
      • Biomass
      • Carbon air capture
      • Carbon capture and storage
    • Societal control
      • Population
      • Sustainable life-style


Global Warming

  • An increase in the average temperature of Earth’s near surface air and oceans since the mid-20thcentury
  • 4thassessment report of IPCC: global temperature increased 74+18 degree C during the 20thcentury.
  • Caused by greenhouse gases
    • Water vapour, Co2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Ozone, CFCs (in order of abundance)
  • Since the industrial revolution, the burning of fossil fuels has increased the levels of Co2 in the atmosphere from 280 ppm to 390 ppm.


  • 1988 by World Meteorological Organisation and UNEP
  • tasked with reviewing and assessing the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change
  • Nobel Prize in 2007
  • The IPCC does not carry out its own original research, nor does it do the work of monitoring climate or related phenomena itself.
  • A main activity of the IPCC is publishing special reports on topics relevant to the implementation of the (UNFCCC)
  • Till now, it has released four assessment reports (1990, 1995, 2001, 2007)
  • Fifth assessment report is due in 2014


1992 at the Rio Summit.

194 members.Secretariat at Bonn.

Parties to UNFCCC are classified as:

  • Annex I countries – industrialized countries and economies in transition
  • Annex II countries – developed countries which pay for costs of developing countries
  • Developing countries.


Conference Place Outcome
1995 COP1 Berlin The Berlin Mandate
1996 COP2 Geneva
1997 COP3 Kyoto Kyoto Protocol
1998 COP4 Buenos Aires
1999 COP5 Bonn
2000 COP6 /2001 COP6 The Hague/Bonn CDM and Joint Implementation adopted at Bonn
2001 COP7 Marrakesh
2002 COP8 New Delhi Delhi Declaration: Calls for efforts by developed countries to transfer technology and minimize the impact of climate change on developing countries
2003 COP9 Milan
2004 COP10 Buenos Aires
2005 COP11/MOP1 Montreal
2006 COP12/MOP2 Nairobi
2007 COP13/MOP3 Bali Bali Action Plan
2008 COP14/MOP4 Poznan, Poland
2009 COP15/MOP5 Copenhagen
2010 COP16/MOP6 Cancun
2011 COP17/MOP7 Durban, South Africa


Tarawa Climate Change Conference

  • In the lead up to COP16, the leaders of the world’s most climate-change vulnerable countries met in Kiribati in November 2010
  • Ambo Declarationwas adopted
    • It calls for more and immediate action to be undertaken to address the causes and adverse impacts of climate change.

CoP-16/CMP-6, Cancun

COP-16 President: Patricia Espinosa, Mexico’s foreign secretary

COP-17 will be held in Durban


  • Forestry issues and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) plus
  • The developed countries are pushing for transparency from countries where they will fund climate change mitigation.
    • The assessment of carbon emission mitigation for developing countries is right now through domestic communication but is subject to international consultation and analysis. This push for transparency is a major contentious issue.
  • Fast-track finance: $ 30 bn had been committed at CoP-15. A large part of this funding is yet to come through.



Agreements Reached

  • The outcome of the summit was an agreement, not a binding treaty, which calls on rich countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as pledged in the Copenhagen Accord, and for developing countries to plan to reduce their emissions, to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • There should be no gap between the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in December 2012, and the second phase.
  • The agreement calls on the developed countries to “raise the level of ambition of the emission reductions to be achieved by them individually or jointly, with a view to reducing their aggregate level of emission of green house gases”
  • Allows flexibility in choosing the base year for setting emission reduction targets
  • Emissions trading and the project based mechanism under the KP shall continue to be available to Annex 1 parties as a means to meet their quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives.
  • The agreements recognize that in all climate change related action,human rights must be respected. They also recognise the need to engage with a broad range of stakeholders, including youth and persons with disability, and call for gender equality and effective participation of women and indigenous people in effective action on all aspects of climate change.
  • The BASIC group softened the three demands it had before the talks began
    • Necessity of a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol
    • Need to accelerate disbursement under the fast start finance in the form of new and additional resources through a multilaterally supervised mechanism
    • Continued dialogue on IPRs as part of the technology development and transfer issues.
  • REDDis a part of the package and proposed mitigation actions include conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks and sustainable management of forests.
    • REDD is a set of steps designed to use market/financial incentives in order to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation. Its original objective is to reduce GHGs but it can deliver ‘co-benefits’ such as biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation
    • REDD+ calls for activities with serious implication directed towards the local communities, indigenous people and forests which relate to reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation. It goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks
  • ACancun Adaptation Framework has been proposed to strengthen and address implementation of action, and various kinds of assessments, apart from R&D and host of other issues.
  • Green Climate FundThe fund will be designed by a transitional committee, with 15 members from the developed countries and 25 from the developing nations.
  • Pledge by the developed countries to provide $100 bn annually till 2020.



  • UNFCCC secretary-generalChristian Figueres emphasised that the main achievement of the Cancun meet has been to restore some degree of faith in the multilateral process.
  • The agreements don’t mention any reduction targets.
  • Though the agreements recognize the need to reduce the GHG emissions and curb the increase in global average temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in the absence of any firm target, this could be an inadequate and vague provision
  • Bolivia has rejected the agreement, saying that it won’t support agreement without binding emission cuts.
  • In a sense, the summit was both a major step forward as well as a failure
  • It was a step forward because in recent years climate change negotiations had stumbled and this meeting helped overcome that
  • It was a failure because it failed to reach an agreement for binding restrictions that are required to avert global warming.
  • There was no agreement on how to extend the Kyoto Protocol, or how the $100 billion a year for the Green Climate Fund will be raised or whether developing countries should have binding emissions reductions.

Convention on Biodiversity

  • Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in 1992 and entered into force on December 29, 1993
  • There are 193 parties. Its secretariat is based in Montreal, Canada.
  • US has signed but not ratified the treaty.
  • It is an internationallegally-binding treaty with three main goals:
    • conservationof biodiversity
    • sustainable useof biodiversity
    • fair and equitable sharingof the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources
  • Its overall objective is to encourage actions which will lead to sustainable future
  • CBD covers biodiversityat all levels: ecosystems, species and genetic resources
  • It also covers biotechnology through theCartagena Protocol on Biosafety
  • Its governing body is the Conference of Parties (COP). They meet every two years
  • TheEcosystem Approach, an integrated strategy for the management of resources, is the framework for action under the Convention
  • Precautionary principle: it states that where there is threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimize such threat.
  • 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity.

COP-10 of CBD

  • Held at Nagoya, Japan in October 2010.
  • It achieved three inter-linked goals
    • Adoption of a new ten year strategic plan to save biodiversity
    • Resource mobilization strategy to increase official development assistance for biodiversity
    • A new international protocol on access to and sharing the benefits from the use of the genetic resources of the planet (Nagoya Protocol)
  • Japan Biodiversity Fund was established
  • COP-11 will take place in 2012 in India

Nagoya Protocol

  • Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from Their Utilization
  • The protocol creates a framework that balances access to genetic resources on the basis ofprior informed consent and mutually agreed terms with a fair and equitable sharing
  • Expected to enter into force in 2012
  • The Strategic Plan of CBD, which aims to arrest biodiversity loss throughout the world by 2020, will be called the Aichi Target. <Aichi is the prefecture in which Nagoya is situated>

Aichi Target

  • The Strategic Plan of the CBD or the ‘Aichi Target’ adopted by the meeting include 20 headline targets, organised under five strategic goals that address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, reduce the pressures on biodiversity, safeguard biodiversity at all levels, enhance the benefits provided by biodiversity, and provide for capacity building.
  • The Aichi target will be the overarching framework on biodiversity not only for the biodiversity-related conventions, but for the entire UN system.
  • Some targets
    • 17 pc inland and 10 pc marine ecosystem
    • Conserving coral reefs
    • Restore 15 pc of degraded areas
    • Halve or bring to zero the rate of loss of natural habitats including forests
  • Target is that by 2020, at least 17 pc of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 pc of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem are conserved
  • The conservation is to be done through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systemsof protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.


Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol has put in place three flexibility mechanisms to reduce emission of Green House Gases. Although the Protocol places maximum responsibility of reducing emissions on the developed countries by committing them to specific emission targets, the three mechanisms are based on the premise that reduction of emissions in any part of the globe will have the same desired effect on the atmosphere, and also that some developed countries might find it easier and more cost effective to support emissions reductions in other developed or developing countries rather than at home. These mechanisms thus provide flexibility to the Annexure I countries, helping them to meet their emission reduction obligations. Let us take a look at what these mechanisms are.

What are the three flexibility mechanisms put in place of the Kyoto Protocol for reducing GHG emission?

  • The three mechanisms are joint implementation. Emissions Trading and Clean Development

What is Joint Implementation?

  • Through the Joint Implementation, any Annex I country can invest in emission reduction projects (referred to as joint Implementation Project) in any other Annex I country as an alternative to reducing emissions domestically.
  • Two early examples are change from a wet to a dry process at a Ukraine cement works, reducing energy consumption by 53 percent by 2008-2012; and rehabilitation of a Bulgarian hydropower project, with a 267,000 ton reduction of C02 equivalent during 2008-2012.

What is Clean Development Mechanism?

  • The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) allows-‘l developed country with an emission reduction or emission-limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to implement an emission reduction project in developing countries as an alternative to more expensive emission reductions in their own countries. In exchange for the amount of reduction In emission thus achieved, the investing gets carbon credits which it can offset against its Kyoto targets. The developing country gains a Step towards sustainable development.
  • To get a CDM project registered and implemented, the investing country’ has to first take approval from the designated national authority in the host countryestablish “Additionally”, define baselines and get the project validated by a third party agency, called a Designated Operational Entity (DOE).The Executive Body of CDM registers the project and issues credits, called Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), or carbon credits, where each unit is equivalent to the reduction of one metric tonne of. C02 or its equivalent. There are more than 4200 CDM projects in the pipeline as on 14.3.2010. The expected CERs till the end of2012 is 2,900,000,000

What is “Additionality” in a CDM project ?

  • The feature of “additionality” is a crucial element of a CDM project it means that the industrialized country that is seeking to establish the CDM project in the developing country and earns carbon credits from it has to establish that the planned carbon reductions would not have occurred on its own, in the absence of the CDM project. They have to establish a baseline of the project. Which is the emission level that would have been there in the absence of the project. The difference between this baseline level and the (lower) emission level achieved as a result of the project is the carbon credit due to the investing country

What are some of the concerns regarding CDM ?

  • The risk of “false Credits” is a cause for concern with regard to CDM projects. If a project does not actually offer an additionally and the reduction in emission would have happened anyway Even without the project.

CoP15 (Copenhagen Summit)

  • Main aim was to establish a global climate agreement for the period from 2012 when the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol expires
  • The conference did not achieve any binding agreement for long term action
  • A ‘political accord’ was negotiated by approximately 25 parties
    • Collective commitment by developed countries for new and additional resources , including forestry and investments through international institutions to a tune of $30 bn for the period 2010-12.
  • Copenhagen Accord
    • Not legally binding and does not commit countries to agree to a binding successor to the Kyoto Protocol
    • Annex 1 parties would commit to economy-wide emissions targets for 2020 to be submitted by 31 Jan 2010. Delivery of reductions and finance by developed countries will be measured , reported and verified (MRV) in accordance with COP guidelines
    • Non-annex 1 countries would implement Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions to slow their carbon emissions
    • Commits $30 bn for 2010-12
    • Copenhagen Green Climate Fund
    • The accord shall be assessed in 2015

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)


Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is a set of steps designed to use market/financial incentives in order to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation. Its original objective is to reduce green house gases but it can deliver “co-benefits” such as biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation.

REDD+ is being criticised by indigenous people and activists because it is designed to give more control over indigenous people’s forests to state forest departments, miners, companies etc resulting in violation of rights, loss of livelihoods etc.

REDD is presented as an “offset” scheme of the carbon markets and thus, will produce carbon credits. Forest degradation accounts for 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, about the same as transportation sector. Mitigation cannot be achieved without the inclusion of forests in an international regime. Hence, it is expected to play a crucial role in a future successor agreement to Kyoto Protocol.

Important Environmental Treaties

 March 17, 2016 admin 0 Comments

Treaty Signed/Into force Major Points
Aarhus Convention on Access to information for public participation in decision making and access to justice in environmental matters 1998 Aarhus is a Danish city

Adopted at the fourth ministerial conference in the ‘Environment for

Europe’ process Links environmental rights and human rights


India – No

Vienna Convention for the protection of Ozone layer 1985/1988 Does not include legally binding reduction goals for the use of CFCs


At Vienna Conference

Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone layer 1987/1989 It is a protocol to the Vienna Convention


“perhaps the single most successful international agreement” –

Kofi Annan

196 states ratified

Includes CFCs, HCFCs

Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their disposal 1989/1992 Particularly to prevent waste transfer from Developed to LDCs


175 parties

Signed but not ratified: Afghanistan, Haiti, US

Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in international trade 1998/2004 Rotterdam is a city in Netherlands


Endosulfan is proposed to be added to the list


Stockholm Convention on persistence organic pollutants 2001/2004 173 parties
Bamako Convention 1991/1998 On the ban on the import into Africa and the Control of movement of

Hazardous waste within Africa

Negotiated by 12 nations of Organisation of African Unity at

Bamako, Mali

The CBD Framework
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety Seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by

living modified organisms resulting from modern technology. The

Protocol applies to the transboundary movement, transit, handling and

use of all living modified organisms that may have adverse effects on

the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also

into account risks to human health

Nagoya Protocol
For Conservation
CITES: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. AkaWashington Convention 1973/1975 Under IUCN. Trade in specimen should not threaten the survival of

plants and animals. Only one species under it ‘Spix Macaw’ has become

extinct in the wild.

Convention on Migratory Species aka Bonn Convention 1979/1983 To conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species
Antarctic Treaty System 1959/1961 12 original members. HQ: Buenos Aires. India joined in 1983. Sets aside

Antarctica as a scientific preserve and bans military activity there. First

arms control treaty during the cold war.

International Whaling Commission 1946 Signed in Washington. Moratorium on whaling adopted in 1986.

Following countries havnt adopted the moratorium: Norway,

Iceland, Japan.

UN Convention to Combat Desertification 1994 (on the basis of Agenda 21)/1996 First and only internationally legally binding framework set up to

address the problem of desertification.


2006: Int. Year of Deserts and Desertification.

Non-parties: Iraq, Montenegro, Vatican

Secretariat: Rome

Meetings: 1st – Rome 1997, 9th – Buenos Aires, 2009


Sustainable Development

  • Bruntland Report (1983) was the first publication and recognition of the term ‘Sustainable Development’
    • “meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of the future generation”
  • Three pillarsof sustainable development (Bruntland)
    • Care and respect for People, Planet and Prosperity (Commercial Activities) <hence poverty alleviation, conservation and business development>
    • These three pillars are of equal importance
  • SD is about avalue system. It is not a scientific formula.
  • Thinking beyond pure self-gratification to awareness that harm to one will eventually be harm to all.
  • Interconnectednessand interdependence of all things
  • All three pillars have equal importance. Focus on only one of them will unbalance the whole
  • SD is a necessity, not a luxury that we can afford to miss.

Questioning Development <too detailed; at times peripheral. Be choosy>

  • Current practices must change
  • Should shatter the ‘development’ myth. Simply economic growth will not create more jobs and more wealth for all.
  • Steady-state economics. Economic growth is measured in terms of how much we produce and consume, and what we destroy in the process need not be included in the calculations.
  • 20% of the world consumes 80% of its resources
  • According to UNDP, consumption of goods and services in 1997 was twice that in 1975 and six times more than in 1950.
  • An estimated 1 billion people still do not have the means to meet their basic needs.
  • Inequalities are increasing. The assets of world’s three richest men are greater than the combined national product of 48 poorest countries.
  • Higher crime rates are associated with wider income gaps
  • Jobless growth.
  • Under-nutrition is still a huge problem among children

Economic Growth and Sustainability

  • Over-consumption has led to depletion of resources
  • Main environmental threats
    • Depletion of resources
    • Global warming
    • Expansion of waste arising from production and consumption
    • Population pressure
    • Pollution
    • Loss of biodiversity and extinction of species.
  • Green National Income Account
    • Conventional national income accounting does not capture the environmental degradation due to production and consumption
    • This omission leads to misrepresentation of improvements in social welfare
    • Since there is no market for many environmental resources, it is difficult to place monetary values on them
    • Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare: adjusts the national income to make an allowance for defensive spending (i.e. that incurred in cleaning up for pollution and other forms of environmental damage)
  • Economic Sustainability
    • Calls for reforms in the manner that we conduct our economic activity
    • Removing unfair trade barriers and subsidies that harm the environment
    • Upholding the polluter pays principle
    • Tax not on labour but on consumption <already there in the form of indirect taxes>
    • Pricing products in terms of value they have deducted from the common natural base
    • Increase resource productivity
  • Sustainable agriculture
    • Use of practices and methods to maintain/enhance the economic viability of agricultural production, natural resource base, and other ecosystems which are influenced by agricultural activities
    • Minimizing the adverse impact on the natural resources base
    • Flexible farming systems to manage the risks associated with climate and markets

Ecological Sustainability

  • Sustainable forest management
    • ‘Forest Principle’ adopted at the 1992 Rio Summit
    • In 2007, GA adopted the Non Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests. The instrument is the first of its kind and is committed to promote SFM by bringing all stakeholders together
    • Ministerial Conference on Protection of Forests in Europe defined SFM as the attainment of balance between society’s increasing demands for forest products and benefits, and the preservation of forest health and diversity.
    • Forest managers must assess and integrate a wide array of sometimes conflicting factors to produce sound forest plans
    • Ecosystems approachhas been adopted by the CBD. The CBD definition of Ecosystems Approach is known as the Malawi Principles.
    • Ecosystems Approach is a strategy of management of land, water and living resources in a way that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way. Focused on use of scientific methodologies for each level of biological organisation and their interaction.
    • SFM was recognised by the parties to CBD in 2004 to be a concrete means of applying the Ecosystems Approach to forest ecosystems
  • Objectives of SFM
    • Maintain environmental stability through preservation of ecological balance that has been adversely affected due to the depletion of forest cover
    • Preserve the natural heritage of the country
    • Improve productivity of forests
    • Protecting through cooperation with local communities on the principle of Joint Forest Management
  • India
    • One of the 12 mega biodiversity countries of the world
    • National Forest Policy 1988emphasizes environmental stability and maintenance of ecological balance
    • Existing infrastructure for forest protection is inadequate
    • Surveys not carried out in many areas. Question of tribal rights
    • Protect from forest fires
  • Integrated Forest Protection Scheme
    • 10thFYP. In all States and UTs
    • Formed by merger of two 9thFYP schemes: ‘Forest Fire Control and Management’ and ‘Bridging of Infrastructure Gaps in the Forestry Sector in the North Eastern Region and Sikkim’
    • Components
      • Infrastructure development: survey and demarcation, strengthening the infrastructure for Forest Protection Division
      • Forest fire control and management
    • Implementing agencies
      • Central Component: Forest Protection Division, MoEF; Forest Survey of India, Dehradun; Central institutions like Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (Dehradun), IIFM (Bhopal) etc shall be involved
      • State Component: Forest dept of the concerned state/UT

Social Sustainability

  • Fairness in the access to and benefits from the Earth’s resources
  • Impact of poverty on environment/Environment and poverty are related issues
  • Diverting resources to non-productive areas
  • Health and SD
    • Environment and public health are inter-related
  • Agenda 21was adopted at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) [Earth Summit] in 1992
    • It also places particular emphasis on the need to take health considerations into account in planning for SD
  • Urbanisation
  • Need for holistic approach

Water and SD

  • Agriculture consumes nearly 70 pc of water consumption worldwide, industry -22 pc and household activities – 8 pc [WDR, 2010]
  • Geographical distribution of water: just nine countries account for 60 pc of all available freshwater supplies
  • Industrial use takes about 60 pc of water in rich countries and 10 pc in the rest.
  • Suggestions
    • Use of sea water
    • Judicial use of freshwater
    • Development of salt-resistant crops

SD in a globalising world

  • Globalisation is increasing the gap between the rich and the poor
  • It has to be steered so that it serves not only the commercial interests but social needs of development
  • Mechanisms to safeguard trade and livelihoods, especially in developing countries, must be evolved and negotiated to make globalisation an effective vehicle of SD
  • Industrialised countries must continue to assist the developing countries as well as promote trade
  • Environment and social causes must not be used selectively to erect trade barriers against developing countries


Wetland Conservation Programme


Wetlands are lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic system where the water table is usually near the water surface and land is covered by shallow water.

Essential as: control floods, water treatment, recharging of water sources, reduce sediments, check soil erosion, bulwark against encroachment by the sea, winter resort for birds and important for flora and fauna. They also provide a variety of resources

Ramsar Convention: mangroves, corals, estuaries, bays, creeks, flood plains, sea grasses, lakes etc included

A programme on conservation of wetlands was initiated in 1987 with the basic objective of identification of wetlands of national importance, assessment of wetland resources, promotion of R&D activities and formulation and implementation of management action plans

A steering committee in each state headed by the Chief Secretary consists of members from all departments related to the wetland conservation in the state. Successful model.

India is a member of the Standing Committee of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, 1971

Steps forward

Make use of the traditional knowledge of the people living near the wetlands for its conservation along with the engineering solutions

Monitor the impact of implementation of management action plans

Wetlands of India under Ramsar Convention

Name State  Remark

  1. Ashtamudi WL Kerala
  2. Bhitarkanika Mangroves Orissa
  3. Bhoj WL MP
  4. Chilka Lake Orissa            2nd largest in India: 116500 ha
  5. Deepor Beel Assam
  6. East Calcutta WL WB
  7. Harike Lake Punjab
  8. Kanjli Punjab
  9. Keoladeo National Park Rajasthan
  10. Kolleru Lake AP
  11. Loktak Lake Manipur
  12. Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary TN
  13. Pong Dam Lake HP
  14. Ropar Punjab
  15. Sambhar Lake Rajasthan
  16. Sasthamkotta Lake Kerala
  17. Tsomoriri J&K
  18. Vembanad-Kol WL Kerala            Largest in India: 151250 ha
  19. Wular Lake J&K
  20. Chandratal HP       2nd Smallest: 49 ha
  21. Renuka HP Smallest: 20 ha
  22. Rudrasagar Tripura
  23. Upper Ganga UP       Total area of these 26 wetlands: 677131 ha
  24. Hokarsar (Hokera) J&K     Kerala has the highest area under wetlands
  25. Surinsar & Mansar J&K     J&K has the largest number of wetlands (4)
  26. Gharana (2010) J&K





The Montreux Record. Sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance which are considered to have undergone, to be undergoing, or to be likely to undergo change in their ecological character brought about by human action may be placed on the Montreux Record and may benefit from the application of the Ramsar Advisory Mission and other forms of technical assistance.

Keoladeo national park and Loktak lake from India are included in the list

Changwon Declaration

The primary purpose of the  “Changwon Declaration on human well-being and wetlands”,adopted by Resolution X.3 of the recent meeting of the Conference of the Parties, “is to transmit key messages concerning wetland-related issues to the many stakeholders and decision-makers beyond the Ramsar community who are relevant to the conservation and wise use of wetlands, to inform their actions and decision-making”

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