Supreme Court recently indicated it may consider taking up Kerala’s review of the Supreme Court’s judgment to have a one-km eco-sensitive zone ringing protected forests, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

 

What are Eco-Sensitive Zones?

  • Land within 10 km of the boundaries of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are to be notified as eco-fragile zones or Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ).
  • While the 10-km rule is implemented as a general principle, the extent of its application can vary.
  • Areas beyond 10-km can also be notified by the Union government as ESZs, if they hold larger ecologically important “sensitive corridors”.

 

Why are Eco-Sensitive Zones created?

  • They are created as “shock absorbers” for the protected areas, to minimise the negative impact on the “fragile ecosystems” by certain human activities taking place nearby.
  • Furthermore, these areas are meant to act as a transition zone from areas requiring higher protection to those requiring lesser protection.

 

Activities

  • Activities prohibited in an ESZ, such as commercial mining, saw mills, commercial use of wood, etc., apart from regulated activities like felling of trees.
  • There are permitted activities like ongoing agricultural or horticultural practices, rainwater harvesting, organic farming, among others.