Environmental Protection | Agencies, Importance, Approaches

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Environmental Protection

In a broader sense environment protection means protection of environment as well as other resources from any adversely affecting agency. The damaging agency can be individuals, industry, organization etc. The objectives of environmental protection include conservation of resources as well as repairing of damaged ones. The main reasons behind the depleting and damaging resources are high population growth, overconsumption and unsustainable utilization.
Environmental Protection
Considering this alarming situation now the governments have begun placing restraints on activities that cause environmental degradation. Since the 1960s, environmental movements have created more awareness of the multiple environmental problems. 
The environmental protection may involve: 
  1. Changes in characteristics of goods and services, 
  2. Changes in consumption patterns, 
  3. Changes in production techniques, 
  4. Treatment or disposal of residuals in separate environmental protection facilities,
  5. Recycling, and 
  6. Prevention of degradation of the landscape and ecosystems. 

Different Approaches to Environmental Protection 

Basically, there are two different approached for environmental protection-
  1. Voluntary environment agreements 
  2. Ecosystem approach 

Voluntary Environment Agreements 
In the era of industrialization there are many voluntary environmental agreements which are followed by many companies on voluntary basis. Under this agreement the companies follow the minimum regulatory standards and thus support the development as well as conservation for the best environmental practice. For instance, in India, Environment Improvement Trust (EIT) has been working for environmental and forest protection since 1998.

Ecosystem Approach 
In ecosystem approach of resource management rather than taking a specific resource for decision making the completer ecosystem should be taken under consideration. It is more collaborative approach of planning and decision making. Under this approach all the stakeholders are taken under consideration is a unit.
This approach ideally supports a better exchange of information, development of conflict-resolution strategies and improved regional conservation. Religions also play an important role in the conservation of the environment

Role of Government in Environment Protection 

Commonly it is a general perception that environment protection is the responsibility of government, legislation and law enforcing agencies. But in real sense it is the responsibility of every citizen along with the government to conserver the available resources. It is an ideal condition to involve different stakeholders including industry, indigenous groups, and environmental group and community representatives for decision making in environment related issues.
The Constitution of India has a number of provisions demarcating the responsibility of the Central and State governments towards Environmental Protection. As per the article 48-A of our constitution it is the duty of state to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forest and wildlife of the country. By Article51-A (g) environmental protection has been made a fundamental duty of every citizen of India. As per article 21 of the constitution is a fundamental right, which states that "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law". 

Protection vs. Conservation 

Protection means shielding something against dangers which tend to destroy it. Thus, resource protection means shielding the resources against the dangers which may either completely destroy it or at least damage it to such extent that it may not be able to confer benefits it is expected to give (Negi, 1993). As protection requires efforts as well as money, its intensity is directly proportional to the value of and the benefits conferred by, the resource to be protected. The more valuable their source the more likely it is to be damaged by humans and consequently greater is the effort and more resources required to protect it.

Environmental conservation is the practice of us humans saving the environment from the loss of species, and the destruction of the ecosystem, primarily due to pollution and human activities. Conservation is vital in saving and helping both animals and trees as all are dependent on one another for survival. For maintaining the supply of resources, it is important to use the resource at or below its sustained yield. The resource conservation aims to- 
  • Maintain ecological processes and life support systems
  • Ensure continuous yield of plants, animals and materials
  • Preserve the quality of environment
  • Conserve biological diversity
  • Achieve sustainable use of species and ecosystems
The collective resource management programmes with the involvement of local social groups have been found to be effective for the management of watershed, forest, fishery, agriculture etc. as well as for improving community wellbeing 
Environmental conservation and protection are two terms that are often used interchangeably, although they are quite different. Conservation refers to the responsible management of the environment and its resources for present and future use and protection, on the other hand, is a much stricter approach where the environment, lands and natural resources are put away, not to be consumed by humans, but are instead maintained in their pristine form. If the land is to be used by humans, it should only be utilized for its natural beauty and inspiration.
In short on one hand conservation includes the responsible use of natural resources whereas in protections the environment is protected from all harmful human activities.

Institutional apparatus (Local/ National/ International) 

Environment Conservation is not a matter which can be single handed managed by the Government agencies. For the sustainable development it is the need of the hour that different government and non-government agencies must work together. To address this diverse and critical issue many institutions and organization have been setup at international, national and local level. An environmental organization is an organization seeks to protect, analyze or monitor the environment against misuse or degradation or lobby for these goals. Environmental organization may be a government organization, a nongovernment organization, a charity or trust which can act at global, national, or local level. 
India’s approach to protect the environment and to restore it, exists from the Vedic and post-Vedic times but after independence it took a back seat and economic growth became the priority in our day-to-day life. Only after 1972 with the formation of the National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination (NCEPC) the focus on environmental conservation again restarted. In 1985 a full-fledged department, Department of Environment and Forest was set up by the government. Initially the Constitution of India did not contain any provision towards the promotion/protection of environment. However, the 42nd amendment of the constitution in 1977 added some important clauses that entrusted the government the responsibility of providing a clean and well-protected environment. 

Local Agencies (In India) 
There are many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) which are actively involved in the area of resource conservation. An NGO is mostly privately funded organization with no active involvement of any government agencies. Therefore, NGOs are independent of governments. In our country there are many active NGOs which are working in the field of environment conservation, sustainable development, resource conservation, wildlife conservation etc. Some of them are as follows:

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is New Delhi based a research organization. The main objective of CSE is to maintain a balance between exploitation of the available natural resources and growing industrialization. The CES try to create awareness among people regarding the day today environmental issues and propose solutions of these issues. The main target group of CSE is the youth and students of our country with this in mind, CSE has been developing non-formal environmental education. Their tools for creating awareness are periodicals publications, films, exhibitions and other products.

Established in the year 1979 Kalpavriksh is an Indian NGO actively working in the field of Environmental awareness. The area in which Kalpavriksh is involved in creating awareness among people, promoting research, litigation etc. For environment related issues they go upto protest letters to street demonstration etc. Kalpavriksh is actively involved in protest against the destruction of largest green area in Delhi and also actively involved in studying the impact of Narmada dam project on environment and many more. Kalpavriksh believes that a country can develop meaningfully only when ecological sustainability and social equity are guaranteed, and a sense of respect for, and oneness with nature and fellow humans is achieved. In this NGO all the decisions are taken after appropriate debate and discussion within the organization and with the community.

Development Alternatives
Development alternatives is an Indian based non-governmental organization with the aim of sustainable development without damaging the available resources. This NGO was established in the year 1983. The agenda of development alternatives is focus on a cordial interrelationship between social and environment component of the country. In short it includes the balanced relation between nature, technology and people living in the country.
The development alternatives believes in sustainable development must support the economy, environment and most importantly the society. The Development Alternatives Group is, therefore, dedicated to bring about a better balance among the basic prerequisites of sustainable development: social equity, environmental quality and economic efficiency. The mission of the Development Alternatives Group is to promote sustainable national development. The development alternatives believe in generating sustainable livelihood to eradicate poverty on one hand and conservation and proper regeneration of the resources on other.

Tropical Research & Development Centre (TRDC) 
Established in 1994, the vision of TRDC is to make natural resources available to all, with no discrimination. This NGO, headquartered at Bengaluru, aims to nurture development practices through education, awareness and conservation. The TRDC – Paryavaran project launched in some districts of Karnataka addresses the adversities of environmental degradation and climate change. The project also aims at conservation and betterment of local flora and fauna, revitalization of water resources, and involving the younger generation and farmers in their efforts to help in the preservation of natural resources.

Sankalp Taru Foundation 
This environmental NGO is a classic example of how digital channels can be used in protection and conservation of the environment. Sankalp Taru is an e-NGO, which aims at promoting tree plantation across the country. The NGO is active in 21 states in India. The plantation drive is run on a digital platform, allowing Sankalp Taru to use innovative technologies such as GPS-tagging and others. This way, the volunteers can track the progress of plantation drives. So far, millions of trees have been planted since Sankap Taru’s inception by Apurva Bhandari in 2013. The NGO involves all the aspects of environmental protection – rural development, cleaner schools, tree plantation in cities and community-based land protection. Their principal aim is to create a greener, cleaner and healthier environment so that our future generations get a better and greener planet with even richer biodiversity and abundant natural resources.

Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group
Focused on promoting sustainable and equitable growth for every member of the society, Chintan works towards ensuring responsible and sustainable consumption, thus protecting the environment. Founder Bharati Chaturvedi is an avid writer with several powerful articles promoting environmental protection. At Chintan, they endeavor to lessen surplus waste, promote sustainable consumption and facilitate better waste management. They also raise their voice against air pollution by creating awareness. The primary purpose of promoting sustainable consumption and waste management is to provide resources for the vulnerable sections of the society. 

National Agencies 
There are many national level agencies in our country which are actively involved in the protection and conservation of natural resources. Some of them are The Ministry of Environment and Forest, Central Pollution Control Board, Indian Board for Wildlife, National Biodiversity authority, Animal welfare board of India, Forest survey of India etc.

Ministry of Environment and Forest: In India the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is one of the most important department of central government. The ministry mainly focuses on planning and promoting the matters related with environment and forest in the country. The main activities undertaken by the ministry include conservation and survey of the flora and fauna of India, forests and other wilderness areas; prevention and control of pollution; afforestation and reducing land degradation. All national parks of the country are administered by the ministry. It provides the financial support the different organizations for research, capacity building and for creating awareness among common peoples in the country. The Ministry is also the nodal agency in the country for the United Nations Environment Programme.

Central Pollution Control Board 
In India to conserve the various resources against the rising pollution a statutory body namely “Central Pollution Control Board” was established in the year 1974. This body was constituted under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. Further, CPCB was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

It is an apex body which provides the technical inputs to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The thrust areas of CPCB, is proper implementation of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act,1974, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. CPCB promotes the cleanliness and improvement of water and air quality in the country.

Indian Board for Wildlife (IBWL) 
The IBWL is the apex body for wildlife conservation in India. The IBWL is headed by the honorable Prime Minister of India. The IBWL has been reconstituted w.e.f. 7.12.2001. The XXI meeting of the IBWL was held on 21.1.2002 under the Chairmanship of the Honorable Prime Minister of India at New Delhi.

National Biodiversity authority
It is a statutory autonomous body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India established in 2003, after India signed Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992. Its head quarter is situated in Chennai. The main objective of the authority is implementation of Biological Diversity Act, 2002. it acts as a facilitating, regulating and advisory body to the Government of India “on issues of conservation, sustainable use of biological resources and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources.” Additionally, it advises State Governments in identifying the areas of biodiversity importance (biodiversity hotspots) as heritage sites.

Animal Welfare Board of India 
Animal welfare board was established in 1962 under Section 4 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Its head quarter is in Chennai. The board gives advice to Government on Animal Welfare Laws and promotes animal welfare in the country. The Board issues publications to raise awareness of various animal welfare issues. The Board’s Education Team gives talks on animal welfare subjects, and trains members of the community to be Board Certified Animal Welfare Educators.

Forest Survey of India
Forest survey of India is a government organization in India under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for conducting forest surveys and studies. The organization came into being in, 1981. It headquarter is in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. The objective of FSI is the monitoring periodically the changing situation of land and forest resources and present the data for national planning. 
conservation and management of environmental preservation and implementation of social forestry projects. FSI prepares State of Forest Report biennially, providing an assessment of the latest forest cover in the country and monitoring changes in these and conduct an inventory in forest and non-forest areas and develop a database on forest tree resources. Forest Survey of India assesses forest cover of the country every 2 years by digital interpretation of remote sensing satellite data and publishes the results in a biennial report called ‘State of Forest Report'(SFR). 

International Agencies

IUCN (The World Conservation Union) 
The world conservation union was founded in the year 1948. The union brings together states, government agencies and a diverse range of nongovernmental organization in a unique partnership covering some 81 countries. It headquarter is in Gland, Switzerland. IUCN seeks to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and sustainable use of natural resources. The union has helped many countries to prepare National Conservation Strategies and demonstrates the application of knowledge through the field projects it supervises. The world conservation union builds on the strengths of its members, networks and partners to enhance their capacity and to support global alliances to safeguard natural resources at local, regional and global levels. The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) represents the world’s most complete source of scientific and management expertise on species and their conservation.

Convention on Biodiversity
The Earth summit held in 1992 at Rio de Janeiro resulted into a Convention on Biodiversity, which came into force on 29 December 1993 and has been ratified by 183 countries.
The Convention on Biodiversity has three key objectives- (i) conservation of biological diversity, (ii) sustainable use of biodiversity (iii) fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
This convention has stimulated many countries to develop National Biodiversity Strategy and Action plan.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
The UNEP stands for United Nations Environment Programme was established in the year 1972. It is a global authority that set ups the global environment agenda for protecting the different natural resources. The UNEP advocates environmental protection along with sustainable development without compromising the life quality of future generations. 
Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, UNEP works through its divisions as well as regional, liaison and out-posted offices and a growing network of collaborating centers of excellence. UNEP works closely with its 193 Member States and representatives from civil society, businesses, and other major groups and stakeholders to address environmental challenges through the UN Environment Assembly, the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment. The organization hosts the secretariats of many critical multilateral environmental agreements and research bodies.

International Programmes on Conservation

World Conservation Strategy 
In 1980, the international union for conservation of natural resources (IUCN), the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) developed the world conservation strategy, a long-term plan for conserving the world’s biological resources (IUCN/UNEP/WWF, 1980). This plan was expanded and followed by “Caring for the earth: a strategy for sustainable living” ((IUCN/UNEP/WWF, 1991).
This report enlisted a set of principles and strategies of a sustainable society based on practical integration of environment, social and economic, concerns. Its primary goal was to maintain essential ecological processes and life support systems to preserve species and genetic diversity to ensure the use of species and ecosystems in a sustainable manner to improve the quality of human life.

World Commission on the environment and development
In 1983 the United Nations established a commission called the World Commission on the Environment and Development. The commission is often called Brundtland Commission after the name of head of the commission. The commission proposed a global agenda to address the world’s environmental problems and people’s concerns relating to living conditions, resources, population pressures, international trade, education and health. This commission favors sustainable development as sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (WCED, 1987).

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)
At the time of the United Nations Conference on Environment and development (the Earth Summit) held in Rio de Janeiro most of the leaders of the world signed the framework convention on climate change and the convention on biological diversity. The Rio summit adopted Rio declaration and Agenda 21 for achieving sustainable development in the 21 century (UNCED, 1992). This declaration includes equal consideration of environment, society and economy. 
Besides these the Agenda 21-UNCED, The Rio Summit Follow-up, Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), Global Environmental Monitoring and Assessment are some other international programmes on environmental conservation.

Importance of Information and Technology for Conservation of Environment 

Information generally has an advantage over those to whom such access is denied. The evolution of information technology, has generally led to dispersal of information to increasing broader audiences. Advances in telecommunications and other forms of information technology have contributed to the creation of new patterns of work and human association. Information technology has also increased the pace of discovery.
The capacity of establishing and maintaining worldwide databases has linked environmental, researches around the globe. These information is utilized for developing and early warning system and to forecast any eventuality much earlier. A large amount of information is easily available through Remote Sensing technology, Geographical Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) that is being used for various environmental studies. 
Realizing the importance of Environmental Information, the Government of India, in December, 1982, established an Environmental Information System (ENVIS) as a plan programme. The focus of ENVTS, is been on providing environmental information to decision makers, policy planners, scientists and engineers, research workers, etc. Total 25 ENVIS Centers have been functional in our country to cover the broad subject areas of environment. ENVIS is a decentralised system with a network of distributed subject oriented Centers ensuring integration of national efforts in environmental information collection, collation, storage, retrieval and dissemination to all concerned. Presently the ENVIS network consists of Focal Point at the Ministry of Environment and Forests and ENVIS Centers set up in different organizations/establishments in the country in selected areas of environment.
These Centers have been set up in the areas of pollution control, toxic chemicals, central and offshore ecology, environmentally sound and appropriate technology, bio-degradation of wastes and environment management, etc. ENVIS focal point ensures integration of national efforts in environmental information collection, storage, retrieval and dissemination to all concerned.

Global Environment Database
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has set up the global environmental database (GRID) within the framework of the Global Environmental Monitoring system (GEMS).
The main function of GRID are environmental data management and to establish a global network on environment using GIS and image processing technology. GRID is useful to examine interactions between different environmental databases and to provide models and scenarios. The international Geosphere and Biosphere programme uses GRID as a useful data management system for studying global change. The activities of GRID also focus on problems of land degradation, forest depletion and loss of biological diversity. 


There is a serious concern about the growing fragility of the Earth’s life support system. Ever growing human population and its activities are adversely affecting the various resources of the earth. Human population and economic wealth of people have significantly increased the degradation of natural resources which need to be controlled immediately. Resource protection and conservation is the need of the hours. One should protect the available resource by focusing on changing the consumption patterns, recycling, and prevention of degradation of the landscape and ecosystems.
Environmental conservation and protection are two terms that are often used interchangeably, although they are quite different. Conservation refers to the responsible management of the environment and its resources for present and future use and protection, on the other hand, is a much stricter approach where the environment, lands and natural resources are put away, not to be consumed by humans, but are instead maintained in their pristine form. If the land is to be used by humans, it should only be utilized for its natural beauty and inspiration. The matter on environmental protection often focuses on the role of government, legislation, and law enforcement. However, in its broadest sense, environmental protection may be seen to be the responsibility of all the people and not simply that of government. 
There are many agencies which are working on local, national and international levels. There are many Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) which are actively involved in the area of resource conservation at local level. Sustainable development emphasizes that the rate of consumption and use of natural resources must approximate the rate at which these resources can be substituted or replaced.
At the same time it requires that society is able to satisfy social, economic and other needs without affecting the interest of future generation. 

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