Protected areas are those in which human occupation or at least the exploitation of resources is limited. With only 2.4% of the world’s land area, 16.7% of the world’s human population and 18% livestock, it contributes about 8% of the known global biodiversity, however, putting enormous demands on our natural resources.


  • Biodiversity is the key indicator of the health of an ecosystem. Healthy ecosystem, in turn provides provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services
  • Greater biodiversity in ecosystem leads to greater stability.
  • Loss of biodiversity has accelerated to an unprecedented level worldwide.
  • WWF Living Planet Report 2020 reveals 68% drops in wildlife population.
  • Every living thing on Earth is involved in the complex network of interconnected relationship, called the ecosystem.
  • To protect biodiversity, Conservation steps have been taken up at both national and international level.


Protected Area Network of India consists of the following:

  • Wild Protection Act (1972) provided for the declaration of certain areas by the State Government as wildlife sanctuaries if the area was thought to be of adequate ecological, geomorphological and natural significance.
  • It can be any area other than area within reserve forest or the territorial waters.
  • There are around 500 existing wildlife sanctuaries in India, constituting 3.64% of the geographical area of the country (National Wildlife Database, December, 2019).


  • NP are declared in areas that are considered to be of adequate ecological, geomorphological and natural significance
  • The Wild Life Protection Act (1972) provided for the declaration of National Parks by the State Government.
  • There are 101 existing national parks in India, constituting 1.23% of the geographical area of the country (National Wildlife Database, December, 2019).


Parameters National Park Wildlife Sanctuary
Degree of protection Greater Lesser
Statute WPA 1972 WPA 1972
Activities like grazing of livestock, hunting, forestry etc. Prohibited Allowed
Established for a particular species No (habitat specific conservation) Yes (species specific conservation)
Protected area management under IUCN Category II Category IV
Difference in conservation The difference in conservation value of a National Park from that of a sanctuary is not specified in the WPA 1972.


  • Both Central and State government can declare any area within or outside any reserve forest as a WL sanctuary or national park. (under the provisions of Wildlife Protection Act 1972).
  • State Government has absolute power on declaration of any area as a sanctuary or national park.
  • But it requires prior approval of the Central Government for de-notification, de-reservation, or leasing of forest for non-activities.


IUCN (Established on 1948)

  • International Union for Conservation of Nature
  • The first global environmental union- for the protection of nature and biodiversity
  • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species was established in 1964.
  • Publications:
  • World Conservation Strategy (along with UNEP and WWF)
  • Caring for Earth- guided the creations of 3 RIO Conventions (CBD, UNCCD and UNFCCC)




  • Forest Ministerof the State is in charge of all matters concerning forests and wildlife and is assisted by a Principal Secretary belonging to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).
  • State Forest Department- Administration and management of forests, enforcement of laws within the forest areas
  • Chief Wildlife Warden– A statutory authority under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (WPA)
  • Heads Wildlife Wing of Forest Department
  • He/She may grant permit to enter or reside in a sanctuary/national park for all or any of the following purposes:
  • Investigation or study of wildlife
  • Photography
  • Scientific research
  • Tourism
  • Transaction of lawful business
  • Residing in the protected areas.



No person other than:

  • A public servant on duty
  • A person who has been permitted by the Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorized officer to reside within the limits of WS/NP
  • A person who has any right over immovable property within the limits of WS/NP
  • A person passing through the WS/NP along a public highway

Shall enter or reside in the WS/NP, except under and in accordance with the conditions of a permit granted.


State boards for wildlife at the state level:

  • Advice the state governments in selection and management of protected areas and other matters connected with the protection of wildlife.
  • It is headed by Chief Minister, with the Forest Minister of the State as the Vice Chair.


  • Statutory body, constituted under WPA, 1972
  • Headed by the Prime Minister
  • Advisory in nature
  • Serves as an apex body for the review of all wildlife-related matters and for the approval of projects in and around national parks and sanctuaries.
  • The standing committee of NBWL is chaired by the Minister of Environment Forest and Climate Change.
  • Alteration of boundaries of WS/NP shall be made only on the recommendation of National board of wildlife.


  • Conservation and community reserves are those protected areas that act as buffer or connectors or migration corridors between established NP, WS, other reserved and protected forests.
  • Both are the outcome of amendment to the WPA, 1972 in 2003.


It is an area owned by the State Government adjacent to National Parks and sanctuaries for protecting landscape, seascape and habitat of fauna and flora.


Tiruppadaimarathur conservation reserve near Thirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu, declared in 2005, is the first Conservation Reserve in the country.


It is a community/private land and members of that community agree to offer such areas for protecting fauna and flora.


Recently, Gogabeel, an ox-bow lake in Bihar’s Katihar district, has been declared as the state’s first ‘Community Reserve’


Such area is uninhabited but used for subsistence by communities. Part of this land is inhabited by community.



TILLARI CONSERVATION RESERVE (29.53 sqkm area of Dodamarg forest range)

  • It is located near the border of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka, connecting Mhadei sanctuary in Goa and Bhimgad in Karnataka.
  • 13th such reserve in western ghats


  • Marine Protected Area (MPA) as “any area of intertidal or sub tidal terrain, together with its overlaying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment” – IUCN.
  • It aims to protect and conserve the natural marine ecosystems in their pristine condition.
  • Notified under Wild Life (Protection), Amendment Act, 2002
  • These places are given special protections for natural or historic marine resources by local, state, territorial, native, regional, or national authorities.
  • To achieve National Biodiversity Target 2 and Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, India has identified and prioritized 106 coastal and marine sites as Important Coastal and Marine Areas (ICMBAs) by the Wildlife Institute of India.


  • Category I: covers National Parks and Sanctuaries having entire areas in intertidal/sub-tidal or mangroves, coral reefs, creeks, seagrass beds, algal beds, estuaries, lagoons.
  • Category II: includes Islands, which have major parts in marine ecosystem and some part in terrestrial ecosystem.
  • Category IIIA: includes sandy beaches beyond intertidal line but occasionally interacting with the seawater.
  • Category IIIB: includes evergreen or semi evergreen forests of islands.


  • CRZ notification was first issued in 1991, then amended in 2011 and again in 2018.
  • CRZ notification, 2018 came after considering the recommendations made by Dr. Shailesh Nayak Committee (constituted by MOEFCC).



  • CRZ-I: Ecologically sensitive areas like Mangroves, Coral Reefs, Salt Marshes, Turtle nesting grounds, nesting ground of birds, sea grass beds, Sand Dunes, NP, Marine Park, WS etc.
  • CRZ-II: Areas which are developed upto or close to the shoreline and falling within municipal limits.
  • CRZ-III: Areas that fall neither in CRZ I nor CRZ II and also include rural and urban areas that are not substantially developed.
  • CRZ-IV: Aquatic area from low tide line upto territorial limits.


  • Allowing Floor Space Index (FSI) or Floor Area Ratio (FAR) as per current norms in CRZ areas. This will enable redevelopment in these areas to meet the emerging needs.
  • Two separate categories have been stipulated for CRZ III (rural areas)
    • CRZ III A – Densely populated rural areas with population density of 2161 per sq km (as per Census 2011). Such areas shall have a No Development Zone (NDZ) of 50 meters from the High Tide Line (HTL) as against 200 meters from the HTL (stipulated in CRZ notification 2011).
    • CRZ III B – Rural areas with population density of below 2161 sq km. Such areas shall continue to have NDZ of 200 meters from the HTL.
  • Promotion of tourism infrastructure: Temporary tourism facilities such as toilet blocks, change rooms, drinking water facilities are now permissible in NDZ of CRZ III areas. (A minimum distance of 10 meters from HTL should be maintained.
  • CRZ Clearances: Clearances for projects located in the CRZ I and CRZ IV- MOEFCC
  • Clearances for projects located in CRZ II and CRZ III – State level authority
  • NDZ of 20 meters has been stipulated for all islands ( islands close to the mainland coast and for all the backwaters in the mainland)
  • All Ecologically Sensitive Areas have been accorded special importance.
  • Pollution abatement has been accorded special status.
  • Defence and strategic projects have been accorded necessary dispensation.


  • Sacred Groves are patches of forests or natural vegetation – few trees or forests of several acres – that are usually dedicated to local folk deities (protected by local communities).
  • Notified under Wild Life (Protection), Amendment Act, 2002
  • The degree of sanctity of the sacred forests varies from one grove to another.
  • People believe any kind of disturbances would offend the local deity and thereby causing natural calamities, diseases of crops.
  • For example, the Garo and the Khasi tribes of North-Eastern India completely prohibit any human interference in the sacred groves.



  • Kaavuin Malayalam
  • Koyil kaaduin Tamil
  • Orans in Rajasthan
  • Devara kaadu in Karnataka
  • Sernasin Madhya Pradesh
  • Devarai in Maharashtra


TYPES OF SACRED GROVES: TRADITIONAL GROVE – The grove where village deity resides, who is represented by elementary symbol.
TEMPLE GROVE – The grove which is created around a temple
Groves around the burial or cremation grounds.


Ecological Significance Threats to Sacred Groves
  •         Conservation of biodiversity
  •          Recharge of Aquifers
  •          Soil conservation through vegetation cover


  •          Diminishing traditional belief systems
  •          Rapid urbanization and development
  •          Sanskritisation
  •          Invasion by exotic weeds such as Lantana camara, Prosopis julifora
  •          Increasing livestock and fuelwood collection.



It is a scheme initiated by the Government of India in 1986 to ensure participation of local inhabitants in conservation of ecosystem without compromising their livelihood.




Protected and minimally disturbed core area Presence of rare and endangered species
Ability to sustain viable populations representing all trophic levels, in core area Presence of micro-climatic conditions, diverse soil and indigenous varieties of biota
Involvement of local communities to link biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development Preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of living for harmonious use of environment




1. Nilgiri – World Natural Heritage Site


1986 Nilgiri Tahr, Lion-tailed Macaque, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Elephant, Tiger Part of Wayanad, Nagarhole, Bandipur and Madumalai, Nilambur, Silent Valley and Siruvani hills (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka).
2. Nanda Devi – Declared World Natural Heritage Site 1988 Snow Leopard, Musk deer, Himalayan black bear, Brown Bear Part of Chamoli, Pithoragarh, and Bageshwar districts (Uttarakhand). 
3. Nokrek 1988 Hoolock Gibbons, Clouded Leopard, Elephant, Barking Deer Part of Garo hills (Meghalaya)
4. Gulf of Mannar – First marine Biosphere Reserve in India. Falls within the Indo-Malayan realm


1989 Dugong, Whale Shark, Hawsbill sea turtle Indian part of Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka (Tamil Nadu).
5. Sundarbans – World Natural Heritage site 1989 Royal Bengal Tiger, Ganges and Irawadi Dolphins, Terrapin, Estuarine crocodiles Part of delta of Ganges and Brahamaputra river system
(West Bengal). 
6. Manas – World Natural Heritage site 1989 Pygmy hog, Golden Langur, Hispid hare, Bengal Florican Part of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamprup and Darang districts (Assam)
7. Great Nicobar 1989 Nicobar tree shrew, Nicobar crab-eating macaque, Dugong, saltwater crocodile Southern most islands of Andaman And Nicobar (A&N Islands). 
8. Simlipal – The biosphere reserve has the largest zone of Sal in all of India. 1994 Royal Bengal Tiger, Asiatic Elephant, Leopard Part of Mayurbhanj district (Orissa).
9. Dibru-Saikhowa 1997 Tiger, Elephant, Assamese Macaque, Sambar, Barking Deer, Water Buffaloes Part of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia Districts (Assam)
10. Dehang-Dibang 1998 Leopard- Clouded, Common, Spotted, Himalayan Black Deer, Indian Wild Dog Part of Siang and Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh.
11. Pachmarhi  1999 Indian Giant Squirrels, Flying Squirrels, Gaur, tiger, Nilgai

NOTE: Pachmarhi BR area is often recognized as “Genetic Express Highway” linking two biological hot spots of the country viz. Eastern Himalayas and Western Ghats, also as confluence of northern and southern type of vegetation.

Parts of Betul, Hoshangabad and Chindwara districts of Madhya Pradesh. 
12. Khangchendzonga – India’s first Mixed Heritage Site 2000 Himalayan- Tahr, Black Bear, Blue Sheep, Red panda, Snow Leopard Parts of Khangchendzonga hills and Sikkim.
13. Agasthyamalai – Part of “Hottest biodiversity hotspots” + World Natural Heritage Site. 2001 Bengal Tiger, Asiatic Elephant, Nilgiri Tahr Neyyar, Peppara and Shendurney  Wildlife Sanctuaries and their adjoining areas in Kerala.
14. Achanakmar-Amarkantak 2005 Indian Wild Dog, Saras Crane, White-backed Vulture, Sacred grove Bush frog Covers parts of Anupur and Dindori districts of M.P. and parts of Bilaspur districts of Chhattishgarh State.
15. Great Rann of Kutch 2008 Indian Wild Ass, Great Indian Bustard Part of Kachchh, Rajkot, Surendra Nagar and Patan Civil Districts of Gujarat State
16. Cold Desert 2009 Tibetan Gazelle, Snow Leopard, Himalayan Ibex, Red fox Pin Valley National Park and surroundings; Chandratal and Sarchu&Kibber Wildlife Sancturary in Himachal Pradesh
17. Seshachalam Hills 2010 Golden Gecko, Slender Loris Seshachalam Hill Ranges covering parts of Chittoor and Kadapa districts of Andhra Pradesh
18. Panna 2011 Bengal Tiger, Nilgai, Leopard, Chinkara, Chital Part of Panna and Chhattarpur districts in Madhya Pradesh


NOTE: Bold marked BRs of India are included in WORLD NETWORK OF BIOSPHERE RESERVE-UNESCO’S MAB programme

There are 18 Biosphere Reserves in India. 12 of the eighteen biosphere reserves are a part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, based on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme list.

  • First Biosphere Reserve:Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (Est. 1986)
  • Largest Biosphere Reserve:Gulf of Mannar
  • Smallest Biosphere Reserve: Panna



THE MAN AND BIOSPHERE (MAB): Launched in 1971 + Managing entity: UNESCO + MAB is an intergovernmental scientific programme of UNESCO that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of the relationships between people and their environments.

  • It targets ecological, social and economic dimensions of biodiversity loss.
  • It focuses on improving human livelihoods and safeguard natural ecosystems.
  • It also focuses on rational, sustainable use and conservation of resources.


  • Biosphere reserves are legally protected areas (can be terrestrial or coastal ecosystem or a combination thereof) where human beings and nature can co-exist while respecting each other’s’ needs.
  • They are indeed learning areas for sustainable development.
  • They are nominated and established by the respective countries and recognised under UNESCO’s MAB programme.


  • Conservation of biodiversity and cultural diversity
  • Economic development that is socio-culturally and environmentally sustainable
  • Logistic support, underpinning development through research, monitoring, education and training.
  • These three functions are pursued through the 3 zones/areas of Biosphere Reserve.






Core Areas

The core areas of biosphere reserves are strictly protected zone which are often public lands with legal protection, such as a previously designated national park, wilderness area or wildlife refuge. However, the core area may be privately owned or belong to non-governmental organizations.


Buffer Zones

Adjoining region around the core area(s), may also accommodate education, training, tourism, and recreation facilities. In many biospheres reserves the buffer zone is regarded as an area in which human use is less intensive than what might be found in the transition zone and is used for scientific research.
Transition Area Outermost region where community’s foster socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable economic and human activities.




World network of biosphere reserves of UNESCO’s MAB programme consists of a dynamic and integrated network of biosphere reserves across the world. It promotes:

  • North-South and South-South collaboration and international co-operation through sharing knowledge, exchanging experiences, building capacity and promoting best practices.
  • Harmonious integration of people and nature for sustainable development.


BIODIVERSITY HOT SPOTS (covers only 2.3% of the Earth’s land surface)

These are Earth’s most biologically rich, yet threatened regions. The concept was first put forth by Norman Myers in 1988.  Conservation International (CI) adopted Myers’ hotspots as its institutional blueprint in 1989 and gave the following criteria to qualify a hotspot.

  • Species endemism – Contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants found nowhere else on Earth (endemic species).
  • Degree of Threat – Have lost at least 70 percent of its primary native vegetation.

  • USA based nonprofit environmental organization.
  • Founded – 1987
  • Mission – empowering societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, global biodiversity and well-being of humanity.


  1. Madagascar
  2. Philippines
  3. Sundaland
  4. Brazil’s Atlantic Forest
  5. Caribbean
  6. Indo-Burma
  7. Western Ghats and Sri Lanka
  8. Eastern Arc and Coastal Forests of Tanzania/Kenya
Five key factors have been considered for defining the above 8 hot spots:  

  • Endemic plants
  • Endemic vertebrates
  • Endemic plants/area ratio
  • Endemic vertebrates/area ratio
  • Remaining primary vegetation as % of original extent



  1. Himalaya: Includes the entire Indian Himalayan region (and that falling in Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar)
  2. Indo-Burma:Includes entire North-eastern India, except Assam and Andaman group of Islands (and Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and southern China)
  3. Sundaland: Includes Nicobar group of Islands (and Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines)
  4. Western Ghats and Sri Lanka: Includes entire Western Ghats (and Sri Lanka)


  • World Heritage Sites are the places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity.
  • Over 1000 Natural and Cultural places have been inscribed in the World Heritage List to date.
  • The Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972, provides framework for protection of Cultural and Natural Heritages across the world.


7 Natural World Heritage Sites

  • Kaziranga National Park
  • Keoladeo National Park
  • Manas Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Sunderbans National Park
  • Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park
  • Western Ghats

Great Himalayan


There are total 38 World Heritage sites in India –

  • 30 Cultural Sites
  • 7 Natural Sites
  • 1 Mixed Site- Khangchendzonga National Park