Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs)- Relevance for UPSC Exam
Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs): Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) are a dedicated area around natural ecosystems. Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) are often threatened from external factors. Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) are part of UPSC Mains GS Paper 3 (Environment: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation).
Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) in News
- Recently, the Supreme Court ordered to establish 1-km Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) around all protected areas, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in Kerala.
- Farmers in Kerala are protesting across several high ranges of the state against SC’s order to establish Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs).
Why farmers are protesting against Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs)?
- Kerala farmer concerns are borne out of the fear of farmers losing their livelihood opportunities in the concerned areas.
- The protests against ESZs has found support from the state government, opposition parties and the Catholic Church.
- Farmer’s groups and political parties have been demanding that all human settlements be exempt from the ESZ ruling as these have very dense human settlement.
What are Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs)?
- About: As per the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016) land within 10 km of the boundaries of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries is to be notified as eco-fragile zones or Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ).
- National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016) was issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- Sensitive Corridors: 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.”
- Prohibited Activities in ESZs: the guidelines list the activities prohibited in an ESZ, such as commercial mining, saw mills, commercial use of wood, etc.
- Regulated Activities in ESZs: activities like felling of trees are regulated within Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs).
- Permitted Activities: there are permitted activities in the ESZs like ongoing agricultural or horticultural practices, rainwater harvesting, organic farming, among others.
Significance of Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs)
- 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.
- ESZs areas are meant to act as a transition zone from areas requiring higher protection to those requiring lesser protection.
- ESZs are not meant to hamper the daily activities of people living in the vicinity, but are meant to guard the protected areas and “refine the environment around them”.