(Environment & Ecology)General Studies Paper 3
Question:- 170. What are Eco- Sensitive zones (ESZs)? Why are they important for Indian biodiversity? Answer in 150 words.
Jan 20, 2023


Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areas notified by the MoEFCC around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. ESZs are created as “shock absorbers” for the protected areas, to minimize the negative impact on the “fragile ecosystems” by certain human activities taking place nearby.



The ESZs are important for Indian biodiversity because of the following reasons:

  1. 1. Furthermore, these areas act as a transition zone from areas requiring higher protection to those requiring lesser protection.
  2. 2. They minimize the impact of urbanization and other developmental activities on threatened biodiversity.
  3. 3. They can help in in-situ conservation, which deals with conservation of an endangered species in its natural habitat, for example the conservation of the One-horned Rhino of Kaziranga National Park, Assam.
  4. 4. They help to minimize Forest Depletion and Man-Animal Conflict.
  5. 5. The protected areas are based on the core and buffer model of management, through which local area communities are also protected and benefitted. Many tribal groups, for e.g the Lepchas of Sikkim will significantly benefit by the demarcation of ESGs.



However, there are many issues associated with ESGs and one-size fits all approach of 1km demarcation. They create abrupt changes in the lives of local inhabitants who have been living there for years.  This is the reason that the high range areas of Kerala, particularly areas in Idukki, Wayanad, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts, had been witnessing hartals by various farmer groups. There is a need for rethinking on the impacts of the environmental policies at the local level, the type and prospects of local participation and most importantly the prospects of alternate income generating opportunities for successful conservation initiatives.