Arora  IAS

Current Affairs: Environment


Katowice – Concerns for Developing Countries




What is the issue?

· The recent climate conference in Katowice, Poland finalised the “rulebook” for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

· But it brings little cheer on the climate front for developing countries, given its drawbacks.


What are the shortfalls in the rulebook?

· Developing countries – At Paris, the developed nations were allowed to make voluntary commitments to

climate mitigation, on par with the developing nations.


India has been articulating the need for equity in climate action and climate justice.

· But it failed to obtain the operationalisation of these notions in several aspects of the “rulebook”.

· In contrast, Brazil held its ground on matters relating to carbon trading that it was concerned about.

· It postponed finalisation of the matter to next year’s summit.

· India underestimated what was at stake at Katowice and the outcome mean a serious narrowing of India’s

developmental options in the future.

· In all, the “rulebook” adoption at COP24 signals a global climate regime that benefits and protects the

interests of the global rich.


IMD Statement on Climate of India in 2018

What is the issue?

· A recently released IMD (India Meteorological Department) statement shows 2018 as the sixth warmest year

on record.

· In this context, a look at the temperature and rainfall trends last year and a series of extreme weather events

becomes essential.


The increase in temperatures is predicted to lead to more extreme weather events.

· Apart from the six cyclonic storms that formed over the northern Indian Ocean, India experienced “high impact weather” events.

· These were extremely heavy rainfall, heat and cold waves, snowfall, thunderstorms, dust storms, lightning and floods.

· Uttar Pradesh was the most adversely affected state during 2018


Rainfall over India : near normal with 90.6% of Long Period Average (1951-2000).

· But the northeast monsoon season rainfall : below normal with 56% of LPA and was the sixth lowest since 1901.

· The seasonal rainfall during the northeast monsoon season over the core region of the south peninsula was also below average (66% of LPA).

· It comprises of 5 subdivisions – Coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, Tamil Nadu & Puducherry, South Interior Karnataka and Kerala.

· Out of these, Kerala received normal rainfall and the other four subdivisions received deficient rainfall

New Coastal Regulation Zone Notification


Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) about?

· Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) under the Environment Protection Act, 1986,

· coastal land up to 500m from the High Tide Line (HTL) and

a stage of 100m along banks of creeks, estuaries, backwater and rivers subject to tidal fluctuations, is called the Coastal RegulationZone(CRZ).

· CRZ along the country has been placed in four categories, which are as follows

· CRZ I –Ecologically Sensitive Areas.,between low and high tide line.

· Exploration of natural gas and extraction of salt are permitted


· CRZ II – Shore Line Areas

· The areas that have been developed up to or close to the shoreline.

· Unauthorized structures are not allowed to construct in this zone.


· CRZ III – Undisturbed Area

· Rural and Urban localities which fall outside I and II.

· Only certain activities related to agriculture even some public facilities are allowed in this zone.


· CRZ IV – Territorial Area

· Area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 Nautical Miles seaward.

· Fishing and allied activities are permitted in this zone.

· Solid waste should be let off in this zone.


 recent changes in the CRZ notification?

· CRZ-II Urban –

·  to permit current Floor Space Index (FSI) or Floor Area

Ratio (FAR) in urban areas coming under CRZ-II which governs the size of buildings.

· This does away with the restrictions on construction which date back to the Development Control Rules of 1991.

· CRZ- III Rural – adds a sub-category to CRZ-III.

· The new provision, CRZ-III A, applies development restrictions to a much smaller area of 50 meters from the high tide line, compared to the 200 meters that was earmarked as the no development zone (NDZ) earlier for densely populated areas.

· These are defined as places with a population of 2,161 per sq km as per the 2011 Census.

· Areas with a population density below that will continue to have 200 meters as the NDZ (No-Developmental Zone)

What are the changes made to the regulatory framework?

· The system of granting clearances has also been changed. States will have the authority to approve proposals for urban (CRZ-II) and rural (CRZ-III) areas.

· The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change will grant clearances for ecologically sensitive areas

(CRZ-I), and areas falling between the low tide line and 12 nautical miles seaward.

· The modifications also include demarcation of a 20-metre no development zone for all islands and guidelines to deal with sensitive areas.


Lake Urima


·  saltwater lake.

· situated in the mountains of northwest Iran i.e the west of the southern portion of the Caspian Sea and is fed by 13 rivers.

· designated as a site of international importance under the UN


Convention on Wetlands.

· The lake has been shrinking since 1995, due to a combination of

prolonged drought, elevated summer temperatures that speed up

evaporation, over-farming and dams.

· It became one of the worst ecological disasters of recent decades as the lake’s surface which was 2,366 km2 in 2011 shrank to just 700 km2 in 2013.

· This has threatened the habitat of shrimp, flamingos, deers and wild

sheep and caused salt storms that pollute nearby cities and farms.

· It has started stabilising in recent times after the implementation of a joint program between Iran and the UNDP.

Invasion of Shola Grasslands


· Shola forest-grassland ecosystem : patches of forest of stunted evergreen shola trees in the valleys and grasslands on hill slopes.

· spread across Western Ghats of Tamilnadu and Karnataka.

· Over four decades, almost one-fourth of the grasslands in the high-altitudes of the ecosystem were lost.

· The exotic invasive trees like pine, acacia and eucalyptus that were earlier used for afforestation in these areas -primary reason

· Broadly, these grasslands in Tamil Nadu showed the highest rates of invasion than in Karnataka.

· Though the practise has been ceased in 1996, the exotics still invade these ecosystems.

· But the shola forests in the valleys have remained “relatively unchanged” over these years.

· The Anamalai-Munnar areas have also remained stable during this time.

Firecracker ban on Galapagos Islands · Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the equator in the Pacific Ocean.

· World Heritage Site that comes under the jurisdiction of Ecuador.

· The islands are known for their large number of endemic species and were studied by Charles Darwin

· Ecosystems are very sensitive in the islands and its fauna that is so unique that they are easily affected by even fireworks.

· Animals have suffered from elevated heart rates, nervous stress and anxiety, which have “notably” changed their behaviour and affected the survival of species

· So the local government has recently banned fireworks on the Islands to protect the its unique fauna

· Those fireworks that produce light but no noise have been excluded from the ban.

· to avoid any potential deterioration in air quality or pollution of water sources

Thawing of Permafrost


· Permafrost is any type of ground—from soil to sediment to rock—that has been frozen continuously for a minimum of 2 years and as many as hundreds of thousands of years.

· It can extend down beneath the earth’s surface

· But as global temperatures rise, this frozen soil is melting, causing homes and businesses to collapse and roadways to crumble.

· Now, a new .study has found that most of the Arctic’s built environment will be damaged by the thaw, even if nations meet their Paris Agreement climate targets.

· found that nearly 70 of infrastructure in the Arctic is built on permafrost that is at risk of thawing by mid-century.

· In addition, nearly half of the oil and gas drilling sites in the Russian Arctic are in regions where thaw-related ground instability can cause severe damage to the built environment

Supreme Court’s Order on Eviction of Forest Dwellers – Forest Rights Act


· The Supreme Court has ordered the state governments to evict over 10 lakh forest dwelling families whose

claims have been rejected under the Forest Rights Act.


What does the Forest Rights Act provide for?

· The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act or FRA was

passed by the Parliament in 2006 and came into effect in 2008.

· It was intended to correct the ―historical injustice‖ done to forest dwellers from the colonial times.

· [The traditional rights of such communities were derecognised by the British Raj in the 1850s.]

· The Act recognises and vests the forest rights and occupation in forest land in the forest dwelling Scheduled  Tribes.

· covers other traditional forest dwellers who have been residing in such forests for generations but whose rights could not be recorded.

· The Act recognises –

i. individual rights to forest land and livelihood

ii. community rights to forest ‘land’ exercised by their gram sabha

iii. community forest ‘resource’ rights, giving gram sabhas the power to protect and manage their forest

· Conservation plans and developmental projects in these areas would have to be approved by gram sabhas.


Green India mission · The Green India Mission is one of the 8 missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change.

·  $7billion environmental intervention, laid out in 2011.

·  aims at protecting, restoring and enhancing India‘s diminishing forest cover.

·  intended at responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures.

· seeks to put a third of the country under forest cover by increasing forest and tree cover to the extent of 5 million hectares (mha).

· Besides, there are efforts at improving quality of forest/tree cover on another 5 mha of forest/non-forest lands.

· The mission is also planned with improving forest-based livelihoods



The eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) are as follows:

i. National Water Mission

ii. Green India Mission

iii. National Solar Mission

iv. National Mission on Sustainable Habitat

v. National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency

vi. National Mission for Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem

vii. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture

viii. National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Changes



Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment Report


International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) recently released the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment report.

What is the background?

· The Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region extends 3,500 km over all or part of eight countries from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar in the east.

·  the source of ten large Asian river systems – the Amu Darya, Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy,Salween (Nu), Mekong, Yangtse, Yellow River, and Tarim (Dayan).

· provides water, ecosystem services, and the basis for livelihoods to a population of around 210.53 million people in the region.

· The basins of these rivers provide water to 1.3 billion people, a fifth of the world‘s population.

· The Himalayan range alone has the total snow and ice cover of 35,110 containing 3,735 of eternal snow and ice.


What does the report reveal?

· reveals that more than 35 % of the glaciers in the region could retreat by 2100, even if the global temperature rise is capped at 1.5º C.


Decline in Insect Population


What is the issue?

· A study titled ‘Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers’ was published recently.

· Insect populations are declining sharply worldwide, which could potentially cause the collapse of the planet’s ecosystems.

the key findings?

· More than 40% of insect species could become extinct in the next few decades.

· The extinction rate is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles.

· In addition to this, one third of insect species are endangered.

· Insect biomass is declining by 2.5% a year; there is a threat that all of the planet‘s insects could go extinct within a century.


insects important?

· Bugs make up around 70% of all animal species.

· The study stresses on the importance of insect life on  interconnected ecosystems and the food chain.

· The ecosystem at the bottom level which includes insects has to be in balance.

· Insects have been at the structural and functional base of many of the world’s ecosystems, since their rise almost 400 million years ago.


Reviving Principle of ‘Commons’


What is the issue?

· There is a decline in the natural and biodiversity resources, despite concerted global efforts to conserve them.


Convention on Biological Diversity for?

· The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) entered into force in December 1993.

· The CBD’s three main objectives are:

i. the conservation of biological diversity

ii. the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity

iii. the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources


· The 14th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the CBD took place at Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt with 196 countries in November 2018.

· Governing biological resources (or biodiversity) at different levels for the world‘s sustainable future was a key agenda.

· The meeting had come at a significant time when –

i. it was the CBD‘s 25th year of implementation

ii. countries had approximately 350 days to meet global biodiversity targets

iii. a report had come that humans have mismanaged biodiversity so badly that 60% of resources (which can never be recouped) have been lost

 principle of commons?

· Natural resources are a set of resources such as air, land, water and biodiversity that do not belong to one community or individual, but to humanity.

· For thousands of years, humans have considered natural resources and the environment as a global public good.

· Under the principle of Commons‘, resources are largely managed by the communities themselves, for centuries.


The urge of those with money and power to privatise the natural resources for individual prosperity disturbed the principle of Commons‘.


India’s ‘Commons’ scenario?

· Despite their significance, ‗Commons‘ in India have suffered continued decline and degradation.

· There is 1.9% decline every five years in the area of ‗Common‘ lands in India.

As of 2013, India‘s annual cost of environmental degradation has been estimated to be Rs. 3.75 trillion per year which is 5.7% of GDP.

Small Grants Program


· Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program was established in the year of the Rio Earth Summit 1992.

· It provides financial and technical support to projects that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people’s well-being and livelihoods.

· It demonstrates that community action can maintain the fine balance between human needs and environmental imperatives.

· UNDP has been supporting the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in implementing the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and financed Small Grants Program (SGP) in India since 1997.

· The program provides grants of up to $50,000 directly to local communities including indigenous people,community-based organizations and other non-governmental group.


· Projects under the SGP are implemented through

1. National Host Institution – Centre for Environment Education (CEE)

2. NGO partners and stakeholders that has presence in different parts of the country.

Amami rabbits · Japan‘s Environment ministry has started to catch feral cats on Amami Oshima island to avoid them from preying on Amami rabbits.

· Ammai rabbits are endemic to the Ryukyu Archipelago of Japan

·  also known as the Ryukyu rabbit.

· The Amami rabbit is a living remnant of ancient rabbits that once lived on the Asian mainland and it is often called a living fossil.

· The rabbit is a primitive, dark-furred rabbit.

· IUCN has classified the rabbit as endangered.

· The Amami rabbit is also classified as a Japanese National Monument

Black Soft shell Turtle


· The rare turtle species are being bred in the ponds of Assam‘s shrines.

· India hosts 28 species of turtles, of which 20 are found in Assam.

· Recently black softshells hatchings were released into the Haduk Beel (wetland) of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam.

· The black softshell turtle (Nilssonia nigricans) figures in the International Union for Conservation of Nature‘s(IUCN) Red List as extinct in the wild

· a freshwater turtle that is found in India and Bangladesh.

· Consumption of turtle meat and eggs, silt mining, encroachment of wetlands and change in flooding pattern

have had a disastrous impact on the State‘s turtle population

Crying Snake ·  discovered in Lepa-Rada district of Arunachal Pradesh.

·  a non-venomous crying keelback, whose zoological name is Hebius lacrima.

· Lacrima‘ means tear in Latin.

· The name for this keelback was suggested because of a dark spot under its eyes looking like black tear

· The snake prefers to live near streams along paddy fields.

·  feed on small fish, tadpole, frogs and geckos.

· The northeast is home to some 110 global snake species

Mysticellus franki


· It is a mysterious narrow-mouthed frog that was spotted in the seasonal roadside puddles in Kerala‘s Wayanad district.

· a new species and belongs to a completely new genus, Mysticellus.

· Mysticellus is named after Latin ‗mysticus‘, meaning mysterious; and ellus‘ meaning diminutive as the frog is just around 3 cm long.

· species is named after evolutionary biologist Franky Bossuyt from Brussel‘s Vrije Universiteit.

· Adults have two black spots that look like eyes on their backs, a defensive feature that probably helps startle predators.

· The frogs‘ calls are extremely different as it resembles that of insects.

· Genetic studies further revealed that the frog is around 40 million years old and its nearest relatives live more than 2,000 km away, in Southeast Asia (including Indo-Burma, Malaysia and Vietnam).

· The genetic studies add strength to the theories that India and Southeast Asia were connected in the past by land bridges.

Kelp forest


· Climate change could lead to declines of underwater kelp forests through impacts on their micro biome.

· ocean warming and acidification can change microbes on the kelp surface, leading to disease and potentially putting fisheries at risk.

· underwater ecosystems formed in shallow water

· Kelps are actually extremely large brown algae, although they look like plants.

· They thrive in cold, nutrient-rich waters.

· Kelp attaches to the seafloor and eventually grows to the water‘s surface and relies on sunlight to generate food and energy.

· Kelps live further from the tropics than coral reefs, mangrove forests, and warm-water seagrass beds, so kelp forests do not overlap with those systems.



· scaly nocturnal anteater.

· Indian and Chinese Pangolin are the two species found in South Asia.

· Chinese Pangolin – the North Eastern part of India and  Indian Pangolin – the rest of India.

· The pangolin is the most trafficked mammal in the world.

· It is hunted mainly for meat in India but the demand for its scales in China has made it more vulnerable.

· Almost 90% of smuggling of pangolin and pangolin scales is through the northeastern India.

·  Indian Pangolin as Endangered and  Chinese Pangolins as Critically endangered



· Seaweeds or Marine macro algae are plant-like organisms that generally live attached to rock or other hard substrata in coastal areas.

· nutritious and will play a major role in food security.

· rich sources of vitamins A and C, and minerals such as Ca, Mg, Zn, Se and Fe. high level of vegetable proteins and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

· About 844 seaweed species are reported from India, a country with a coast line of 7,500 km

Great Indian Horn Bill


· A study has found that Great Indian hornbills can adapt to modified habitat.

·  also known as Great piped Hornbill.

·  found mostly in India and also in southwestern China, Bangladesh, western Thailand, mainland SoutheastAsia.

· lives primarily in evergreen and moist deciduous forests.

·  Appendix II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

· It is listed as vulnerable because of decreasing populations.

Great White Shark


· A major study decoded Great White Shark entire genome and found that it could hold new clues to the fight against cancer.

· also known as the great white, white shark or white pointer.

· one of the most powerful and dangerous predatory sharks in the world.

·  large shark and grow up to at least 20 feet long, or 6.1 meters.

·  frequently centered in highly productive temperate coastal waters.

·  only known surviving species of its genus Carcharodon.

· According to IUCN, the species is classified as vulnerable

Bramble Cay melomys · Australia officially declared a Great Barrier Reef rodent called Bramble Cay melomys extinct recently.

· A Cay is a low-lying island on a coral reef.

· It became the first mammal believed to have been killed off by human-induced climate change.

·  lived solely on a tiny sand island in the Torres Strait, near the coast of Papua New Guinea.

· A key factor in its disappearance was repeated ocean inundation of the cay over the last decade

· The Melomys rubicola is considered the Great Barrier Reef‘s only endemic mammal species.

· It was first discovered on the cay in 1845 by Europeans who shot the large rat for sport.

·  Australia has one of world’s highest rates of animal extinction

Fernandina Giant Tortoise


· a rare Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis phantasticus).

·feared to be extinct but has been found in a remote part of the Galapagos island of Fernandina recently.

· The IUCN listed it as critically endangered and possibly extinct.

· habitat ::dry brush land at lower elevations, but much of that habitat has been destroyed by extensive lava flows.

· Fernandina is the third largest Galapagos Island and features the La Cumbre volcano, one of the most active in the world.

Wallaces giant bee (Megachile pluto)


·  the world‘s largest bee that was rediscovered in a remote part of Indonesia.

Wallace‘s giant bee was discovered in the 19th century by British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace.

· The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the bee as ―vulnerable

· nicknamed the ―flying bulldog as it is nearly four times bigger than the European bee.

·  lives in the Indonesian island region of North Moluccas and makes its nest in termite mounds

Kawal Tiger Reserve


·  situated in Northern part of the Telegana state.

· The wildlife sanctuary in Kawal is the catchment area of river Godavari and Kadam.

·indiactor species :: Tiger and Nilgai.

· The reserve forms the southern end of the central Indian Tiger Reserve Landscape.

· also linked to the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharastra to it north and Indrvathi Tiger reerve to its east

· The forest area found here is the southern tropical mixed dry deciduous forest and dry teak forest

Phen Wildlife Sanctuary


·  popular buffer zone of Kanha national park, Madhya Pradesh.

·  lies in Southern region of Kanha tiger reserve, close to Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh state borders.

· declared as a wildlife sanctuary in year 1983 by Government of Madhya Pradesh.

·  Fauna at this sanctuary mainly consists of the Tiger, Leopard, Wild boar, Cheetal, Sambar etc

World Wetlands Day 2019


· World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February.

·  marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

·  theme for 2019 ::Wetlands and Climate Change‘.

· India currently has 27 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites).

· India has designated Sundarban Wetland as a Wetland of International Importance.

· The latest added Sunderban is located within the largest mangrove forest in the world.

· The Sundarbans encompasses hundreds of islands and a maze of rivers, rivulets and creeks, in the delta of the Rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra on the Bay of Bengal in India and Bangladesh

Shark Bay


·  the world heritage-listed marine ecosystem situated in australia.

· Since 2011 it has been devastated by extreme temperatures, when a brutal marine heatwave struck off western australia.

· According to world heritage advisory committee shark bay is classified as the highest category of vulnerability to future climate change.

· Shark bay hosts the world‘s most extensive population of stromatolitesstump-shaped colonies of microbes that date back billions of years.




Tree cover and Forest Cover


· The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change defines forest cover‘ in India as ―all lands, more than one hectare in area with a tree canopy density of more than 10%

· Similarly tree cover‘ is defined as ―tree patches outside recorded forest areas exclusive of forest cover and  Less than the minimum mappable area of 1 hectare

· There is a third measure known as Tree outside forest (TOF).

· The India State of Forest Report 2017‘ defines TOF as ―trees existing outside the recorded forest area in the form of block, linear & scattered size of patches‖.

· Since tree cover measures only non-forest patches that are less than 1 hectare, it is only a part of TOF.

Flamingo Count


·the counting of flamingos that will be taken up across the country for the first time.

· undertaken by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) in collaboration with NGOs and localbirdwatchers across the country.

· In India :two species of flamingos —

Greater Flamingo – Phoenicopterus rosues and Lesser Flamingo- Phoeniconaias minor.

· The taller of the two species is the greater flamingo.

· Lesser flamingos are more pink in colour and their legs are sorter.

· Greater flamingos have light pink beaks with a dark tip which are widespread in India

· It will migrate to South India during winter and spend their time in large reservoirs and mud flats.

Shift in Phenology


· Phenology is the time of flowering, fruiting, and arrival of leaves.

· Across the world, scientists have recorded a shift in phenology in several tree species with the rising air temperatures.

· In germany an examination of data from 1961 to 2000 showed that the phenology of fruit trees and field crops had clearly advanced as air temperatures had drastically changed since the late 1980s.

· Another study across europe revealed that a warming in early spring (february to april) by 1 degree Celsius caused an advance in the beginning of the growing season by seven days.

· In india, kani kona flowers in kerala blossomed two months ahead of vishu.

· Vishu : malayalam new year celebrated during the mid-april.

· The kani konna‘ or the indian laburnum is the state

flower of kerala

Elevation-dependent warming (EDW) ·       one of the expressions of global warming wherein there is an enhancement of warming rates with elevation.

·       One of the possible reasons could be that reductions in mountain snow cover exposes the dark coloured earth beneath. This reduces the surface albedo and increases the  absorbed solar radiation that can lead to elevation-dependent amplification of warming via the snow albedo feedback (SAF).

International Centre for Integrated Mountain

Development (ICIMOD):

·       a regional intergovernmental learning and knowledge sharing

centre serving the eight regional member countries of the Hindu Kush Himalaya – Afghanistan,Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal,and Pakistan – and based in Kathmandu, Nepal.

·       aims to strengthen networking among regional and global centres of excellence.

·       Overall, it is working to develop an economically and  environmentally sound mountain ecosystem to improve the living standards of mountain populations and to sustain vital ecosystem services for the billions of people living downstream, now and for the future.

The Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP) is a long-term,integrated science-policy initiative coordinated by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) that aims to promote enabling policies, sustainable solutions and more robust regional cooperation in the HKH region to sustain mountain environments and livelihoods.



Recently, US mid-west experienced sub-zero temperatures due to a breakdown in the polar vortex.


 a polar vortex?

·       a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding the Earth’s North and South Pole.

·       The term refers to the counterclockwise flow (clockwise over south pole) of air that helps keep the colder air close to the poles.

·       There are not one but two polar vortexes in each hemisphere.

·       One exists in the lowest layer of the atmosphere,the troposphere. The tropospheric polar vortex is the one that affects our weather.

·       The other exists in the second-lowest, called the stratosphere. It is much more compact than its tropospheric counterpart.

·       If the two polar vortexes line up just right, very deep freeze conditions may occur.

The boundary of the polar vortex is really the boundary between the cold polar air to the north, and the warmer sub-tropical air (considering Northern Hemisphere). And that boundary is actually defined by the polar front jet stream– a narrow band of very, very fast-moving air, moving from west to east.

·       But that boundary shifts all the time. It shrinks in summer, pole-ward while in winter, the polar vortex sometimes becomes less stable and expands,

·       sending cold air southward with the jet stream. This is called a polar vortex event (“breaking off” of a part of the vortex).

·       The break in polar vortex appears to be linked to the long and chilly winter in the north India this year.


Why cold air plunges south (in Northern Hemisphere)?

·       Greenhouse gas emissions has amplified Arctic warming resulting into dramatic melting of ice and snow in recent decades, which exposes darker ocean and land surfaces that absorb a lot more of the sun’s heat.

·       Because of rapid Arctic warming, the north-south temperature  difference has diminished. This reduces

·       pressure differences between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, weakening jet stream winds which tend to meander.

·       Large north-south undulations in the jet stream generate wave energy in the atmosphere. If they are wavy and persistent enough, the energy can travel upward and disrupt the stratospheric polar vortex. Sometimes this upper vortex becomes so distorted that it splits into two or more swirling eddies.

·       These “daughter” vortices tend to wander southward, bringing their very cold air with them and leaving behind a warmer-than-normal Arctic.
















The Montreux Record

It is a register of wetland sites on the List of

Wetlands of International Importance where

changes in ecological character have occurred,are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other

human interference.

·       It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.

·       Sites from India included in this are Keoladeo

National Park, Rajasthan and Loktak Lake,Manipur.


India has designated Sundarban Reserve Forests as the wetlands of International Importance, making it the 27th site in India.

More on Sundarbans

·       The Indian Sunderbans, with 2,114 sq. km. of mangrove forests, comprise almost 43% of the mangrove cover in the country according to a 2017 Forest Survey of India report. It is the largest tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world.

·       located in delta region of Padma, Meghna and Brahmaputra river basins.

·       Sundarbans has now become the largest Ramsar Site in India.

·       UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

·       the only mangrove habitat which supports a significant population of tigers (Royal Bengal Tigers), and they have unique aquatic hunting skills.

·       also home to a large number of rare and globally threatened species such as the critically endangered northern river terrapin, the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin, and the endangered fishing cat.

·       Threats to Conservation: climate change, sea level rise, widespread construction, clearing of mangroven forests for fisheries, establishment of coal-based thermal power plant just a few kilometres north of the reserve forest in Bangladesh.

About Wetlands of International Importance

·       It is declared under Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

·       It was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.

·       Ramsar Sites acquire a new national and international status. They are recognized as being of significant value not only for the country or the countries in which they are located, but for humanity as a whole.

·       over 2,200 Ramsar Sites around the world. They cover over 2.1 million square kilometres, an area larger than Mexico  27 Ramsar Site in India, including Sundarbans.

·       Chillika lake was designated the first Ramsite in India in 1981.


Some criteria for identifying Wetlands of International Importance include:

·       Sites containing representative, rare or unique wetland types

·       Sites of international importance for conserving biological diversity – Criteria based on species and ecological communities

·       Specific criteria based on waterbirds

·       Specific criteria based on fish etc.




•  large brown algae seaweeds. They grow in “underwater forests” (kelp forests) in shallow oceans.

·       Generally speaking, kelps live further from the tropics than coral reefs, mangrove forests, and warm-water seagrass beds.

·       a few species have been known to occur exclusively in tropical deep waters.

·       Kelps and coral reefs are composed of algae that grow in the shallow parts of the ocean in warm and sunny waters. However, kelp forest grows in nutrient-rich waters while corals can develop in low nutrient waters.

·       The environmental factors necessary for kelp to survive include hard substrate (usually rock), high nutrients, clear shallow coastal waters and light.

·       tend to be associated with areas of significant oceanographic upwelling.

·       known for their high growth rate. Some varieties grow as fast as half a metre a day, ultimately reaching 30 to 80 metres.

·       Kelp forests are recognized as one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems on Earth. Smaller areas of anchored kelp are called kelp beds.


Importance of Kelp Forests

·       considered as Keystone Species and their removal is likely to result in a relatively significant shift in the composition of the community and perhaps in the physical structure of the environment.

·       an important source of food for many marine species. In some cases, up to 60% of carbon found in coastal invertebrates is attributable to kelp productivity. It may be consumed directly or colonised by bacteria that in turn are preyed upon by consumers.

·       Also, the rich fauna of mobile invertebrates in kelp beds makes this an important habitat in the diet of fish species. They provide a foraging habitat for birds due to the associated and diverse invertebrate andfish communities present.

·       increases productivity of the near shore ecosystem and dumps carbon into that ecosystem. Kelp primary production results in the production of new biomass, detrital material etc.

·       It slows down the flow of the water which is important in situations where animals are spawning and releasing their larvae.

·       natural breakwaters and prevent coastal erosion.

·       influence coastal oceanographic patterns and provide many ecosystem services.

·       an important source of potash and iodine. Many kelps produce algin, a complex carbohydrate useful in industries such as tire manufacturing, ice-cream industry




Rising human population has altered natural forest ecosystems to a greater extent.

·       There are large coffee plantations, tea estates, monoculture

plantations have come up adjoining the ‘Protected areas’.

·       Elephants tend to move across diverse habitats for feeding and breeding and often tend to venture these human-modified landscapes which ultimately lead to human-animal conflict.

·       Researchers tracked movement of elephants across habitats and collected GPS reading during the wet and dry season of 2015 to 2017.


 Landscape-Level Approach?

·       As per the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Landscape level strategy deals with large-scale processes in an integrated and multidisciplinary manner, combining natural resource management with environmental and livelihood considerations.

·       used as a viable solution for minimizing the Human-Elephant conflicts.


The Asian Elephant Alliance has come together to secure 96 existing corridors used by elephants across 12 States in India by raising £20 million in the next 10 years.


Asian Elephant Alliance

·       launched in July 2015 in London,United Kingdom.

·       an umbrella of five NGOs-Elephant Family, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), IUCN Netherlands, World Land Trust(WLT) and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).

·       aims to secure a safe future for the wild elephants of India, which make up approximately half of the world’s wild Asian elephants.


Pattern of Elephant movement during Wet and Dry Season (as observed)

·       During hotter months/dry period, natural vegetation areas such as monoculture plantations and forest fragments are important resource areas which provided shelter for elephants.

·       Coffee plantations were used more frequently by elephants in the dry season and natural vegetation was visited frequently in dry season.

·       However, most of the crop damage by elephants occurs in paddy fields and it can be seen during late wet and early dry seasons, which peculiarly established that agriculture habitat was more frequently used by the elephants during wet season



·       The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has reported to the Supreme Court that African cheetahs, to be translocated in India from Namibia, will be kept at Nauradehi wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh


·       India has tried re-introduce Cheetah since early 2000s. However, Iran refused India’s request to either clone Asiatic cheetah or transport live pair to India. Hence, it was decided to introduce African Cheetahs to India instead.

·       Project Cheetah was launched in 2009 and expert committee short listed some sites where Cheetah could be reintroduced. These were Kuno-Palpur and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, Velavadar National Park in Gujarat and the Shahgarh bulge in Rajasthan


About African Cheetah

·       It is a large cat that occurs in Southern,North and East Africa. Also some localities in Iran.

·       It inhabits different habitats like dry forests, scrub forests, and savannahs

IUCN status: Vulnerable (Asiatic Cheetah – Critically endangered)

·       India was once home to many cheetahs,but it was declared extinct in India in 1952 and last spotted in Chhattisgarh 1947.

The only mammal to become extinct in India in last 1,000 years.



·       Recently, the Government of Punjab declared the Indus Dolphin as Punjab’s ‘State Aquatic Animal’.

About Indus Dolphin

·       IUCN Conservation Status- Endangered.

·       Features-They are freshwater, and functionally blind species of

·       dolphins which rely on echolocation to navigate communicate and hunt prey including prawns, catfish and carp.


·       Except for a tiny, isolated population of about 30 in India’s Beas River (185 km stretch between Talwara and Harike), Indus river dolphins live exclusively in the Indus river in Pakistan.

·       The Punjab Government has stated that Indus river dolphin would be the key species for conservation of the Beas eco-system.

·       The Punjab Government also declared the Kanjli Wetland and Kali Bein as a wildlife conservation reserve.


Additional Information

·       Punjab- Blackbuck (State Animal), Northern Goshawk (State Bird), Sheesham (State tree), Gladious (State flower).



·       Recently, 2nd Asian Rhino Range Countries (i.e. India, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia and Malaysia) meeting, has signed- The New Delhi Declaration on Asian Rhinos 2019.

About the Declaration

·       intends to conserve and review the population of the Greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran rhinos(three species of Asian Rhino) every four years to reassess the need for joint actions to secure their future

·       Javan and Sumatran rhinos are currently classified as critically endangered.

·       The Sumatran rhino, the smallest of all rhino species and the only Asian rhino with two horns, became extinct in the wild in Malaysia.

The Great One-Horned Rhinoceros

·       the largest of the rhino species found commonly in Nepal, Bhutan,Pakistan and India.

·       In India, it is found in Assam – Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Pobitora Reserve Forest, Orang National Park, Laokhowa Reserve Forest etc.

·       listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and is protected under the Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act. It is threatened by poaching, habitat destruction, flooding etc.

·       Indian Rhino Vision 2020 – implemented by Assam State Government with the Bodo autonomous council as an active partner and supported by WWF- India. The aim is to increase the number of Rhinos and provide long term viability of the one-horned rhino population.

·       The government of Assam has raised the Special Rhino Protection Force from people living in the fringe areas of the

Kaziranga National Park.

Best Practices of Rain Water Harvesting



·       Has a separate legislation making RWH mandatory.

·       Massive awareness campaign “Conserve Water where It falls”.

·       Dedicated RWH cell- “Rain Centres”.

·       1st city to become 100% rain water compliant.



·       Delhi Jal Board gives 10% rebate in water bills for providing RWH in a house.

·       Financial assistance of 50% of total cost for adopting rainwater harvesting by the Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs) and neighborhood societies.


Some Traditional Methods of Rainwater

Harvesting in states- In India, rainwater harvesting has been in practice for more than 4000 years.

·       Himachal Pradesh- Kul, Kuhi

·       Rajasthan- Baoris, Jhalaras, Johad, Nadis

·       Maharashtra- Bhandaras

·       Bihar- Ahar-Pynes

·       Karnataka- Kere

·       Madhya Pradesh- Bundela Tank,Chandela Tank, Katas, Pat

·       Tamil Nadu- Eri, Ooranis

·       Nagaland- Cheo-ozihi

·       Andhra Pradesh- Cheruvu

·       West Bengal- Dungs




Why in news?

·       Recently Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN yojana.

Details of the scheme

·       under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoP&NG) will provide  financial support to Integrated Bioethanol Projects using lignocellulosic biomass and other renewable feedstock.

·       12 commercial scale and 10 demonstration scale Second Generation (2G) ethanol projects will be provided viability gap funding support over the next six years in two phases.

·       seeks to increase Research & Development in this area.

·       The ethanol produced by the scheme beneficiaries will be mandatorily supplied to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to further enhance the blending percentage under Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme.

·       Centre for High Technology (CHT), a technical body under the aegis of MoP&NG, will be the implementation Agency for the scheme.

Ethanol blending in India

·       Government had launched Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme in 2003, under which OMCs are to blend upto 10% of ethanol in Petrol.

·       Despite govt efforts, the highest ever ethanol procurement stands around 150 crore litres during 2017-18 which is sufficient only for around 4.22% blending Pan India.

·       Ethanol availability is constrained by procurement price variation,

lack of distilleries, limited feedstock availability and lack of an integrated and dedicated supply chain.


Bio ethanol: It is an alcohol produced from fermentation of carbohydrate and cellulosic material of crops and other plants and grasses. It is generally used as an additive to increase octane number of fuel.

Generation of biofuels

·       First Generation Biofuels: It uses the food crops like wheat and sugar for making ethanol and oil seeds for bio diesel by conventional method of fermentation.

·       Second Generation Biofuels: It uses non-food crops and feedstock such as Wood, grass, seed crops, organic waste are used in fuel preparation.

·       Third Generation Biofuels: It uses specially engineered Algae whose biomass is used to convert into biofuels. The greenhouse gas emission here will be low in comparison to others.

·       Fourth Generation Biofuels: It aimed at not only producing sustainable energy but also a way of capturing and storing CO2.


Lignocellulosic biomass: refers to plant biomass that is composed

of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. Lignocellulosic materials including agricultural wastes, forestry residues, grasses and woody materials have great potential for biofuel production.


Benefits of the scheme

·       reducing import dependence

·       achieving the GHG emissions reduction targets

·       addressing environment concerns

·       improving farmer income.

·       creating rural & urban employment opportunities

·       contributing to Swacch Bharat Mission



·       Palghar falls in seismic zone III.

·       Bureau of Indian Standards has grouped the country into four seismic zones, viz. Zone II, III, IV and V. Of these, Zone V is seismically the most active region, while zone II is the least.

·       National Centre for Seismology (NCS) has categorized the unusual tremors as an ‘earthquake swarm’.

·       Earthquake swarms can occur through the process of Reservoir Induced Seismicity (RIS) when large amount of seismic energy gets concentrated in a small area due the weight of the large structure and the water that it holds.

·       However, scientists have ruled out a small reservoir nearby as the cause and have found no mining activity to explain the quakes.

·       Hydro-seismicity is being hypothesized as the reason for swarms in peninsular India.

·       Water from heavy rainfall enters the small fractures in the rocks creating pressure between them.

·       With every 10 meter rise in groundwater, pore pressure increases by 1 bar. This pressure is released in the form of earthquake swarms.

Eathquake swarm

·       a series of low magnitude earthquakes that occur in a localized region and over a period of time ranging from days,weeks to even months.

·       When seismic energy piles up inside the Earth and is released in small amounts from certain points, such a series of earthquakes can occur.

·       A Geological Survey of India (GSI) in 2003 found that such

activity was observed at 30 places in the region even though the Deccan Plateau is not an earthquake-prone zone.

·       But earthquake swarms are not limited to the Peninsula. In 2016, a series of 58 earthquakes were recorded in the Rampur area of Himachal Pradesh. This Himalayan swarm was attributed to low strength of the earth’s crust in the area which could not hold the tectonic energy.

·       The situation cannot be taken lightly as many major earthquakes in the region have been preceded by earthquake swarm activity. Two such instances were the Latur and Koyna earthquakes in 1993 and 1967 respectively

According to Ministry of New and

Renewable Energy estimates, the solid

waste generated from cities/towns in India

has a potential to generate power of

approximately 500 MW, which can be

enhanced to 1,075 MW by 2031 and further

to 2,780 MW by 2050.


Types of Technique at WtE

Incineration It uses MSW as a fuel,

hot gases are used to make steam, which is then used to generate electricity.

Gasification is a process that converts organic or fossil fuel

based carbonaceous materials into carbon monoxide,hydrogen and carbon dioxide.  achieved by reacting the material at high temperatures (>700’C), without combustion,with a controlled amount of oxygen and/or steam. The syngas produced by gasification can be turned into higher value commercial products.

Pyrolysis involves application of heat with no added oxygen in order to generate oils and/or syngas (as well as solid waste outputs) and requires more homogenous waste streams.

Biomethanation is a process by which organic material is microbiologically converted under anaerobic conditions to biogas. It involves fermenting bacteria, organic acid oxidizing bacteria, and methanogenic archaea

access and benefit-sharing (ABS)?


• refers to the way in which genetic resources may be accessed, and how the benefits that result from their use are shared between the people or countries using the resources (users) and the people or countries that provide them (providers).

Importance: ABS are designed to ensure that the physical access to genetic resources is facilitated and that the benefits

obtained from their use are shared equitably with the providers. In some cases this also includes valuable traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources that comes from indigenous people and Local communities (ILCs).

✓ The benefits to be shared can be monetary, or non-monetary, such as the development of research skills and knowledge.

Working Procedure: Access and benefit-sharing is based on prior informed consent (PIC) being granted by a provider to a user and negotiations between both parties to develop mutually agreed terms (MAT) to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of genetic resources and associated benefits.

Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing under Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD):

aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies.


Biodiversity Act (BDA), 2002.

• India being a signatory to CBD, enacted the Biodiversity Act in 2002, with three main objectives:

o Conservation of biological diversity.

o Sustainable use of its components.

o Equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources.

Institutional Structure: Three-tier system was established with National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) at the Centre,State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) in each of the Indian states and local-level Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) functioning with both municipalities and panchayats

Centre for Biodiversity Policy and Law (CEBPOL)


• Government of India in collaboration with Norwegian Government has established this centre to develop professional expertise in biodiversity policies and laws and develop capacity building.


UNEP – GEF – MoEF ABS Project

Objective: To increase the institutional, individual and systemic capacities of stakeholders to effectively implement the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and the Rules 2004 to achieve biodiversity conservation through implementing Access and Benefit Sharing Agreements in India.

Online filing of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) applications in 2017.

• NBA teamed up with the National Informatics Centre (NIC), to launch the website to enable E-filing of applications.

OBESITY, UNDERNUTRITION AND CLIMATE CHANGE LINKAGE The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change: The Lancet Commission report” says that in the near future the health effects of climate change will considerably compound the challenges of under nutrition and obesity which are leading cause of poor health globally.


The three pandemics— obesity, undernutrition, and climate change- affect most people in every country and region worldwide. They are said to constitute a “Syndemic” i.e a synergy of epidemics because:

• they co-occur in time and place

• interact with each other to produce complex pathological conditions

• share common societal drivers.

Interactions between climate change and undernutrition

Interactions between climate change and Obesity

Interactions between Undernutrition and Obesity


Lower yield: Global warming will lead to lower yields especially in tropical regions. Furthermore, climate change might reduce the protein and micronutrient content of plant foods.

Poor quality of eating patterns:

might prompt shifts in the eating patterns of populations towards processed food and beverage products that are high in fats, sugars, and sodium.

Reductions in physical activity due to increasing extreme weather and climate events.

Dual Burden Scenario:

Undernutrition and overweight or obesity.

Undernutrition in early life is a predictor for later obesity.

Biological and social mechanisms that explain this relationship include the

contribution of fetal and infant undernutrition, food insecurity, and poor diet quality characterised by a low variety of healthy foods







The Kinshasa Resolution of 1975 (under IUCN)

provides international recognition to cultural

model of conservation. It acknowledges the

importance of traditional ways of life and land ownership, and called on governments to maintain and encourage customary ways of living.

Why in news?

Idu Mishmi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh is protesting against the declaration of Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary (DWS) as Tiger Reserve.


Application by Cultural model of conservation in different

tribes of India

Bishnoi Tribe of Rajasthan: Bishnois consider trees as sacred and protect the entire ecosystem including animals and birds that exists in their villages. Tribe has organized their own Tiger Force which is a brigade of youth actively pursue wildlife protection.

Chenchu Tribe of Andhra Pradesh: They are involved in tiger conservation at Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR). Tribe has been coexisting with tigers and wild animals for long without disturbing the ecological balance, which ensures enough water and fodder for the herbivores.

Maldhari Tribe in Junagadh(Gujarat): The success of lion conservation in Gir forest area is due to peaceful coexistence of tribe with lions.

Bugun Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh: The tribe using Community-led conservation initiatives and traditional knowledge helped to protect the critically endangered bird Bugun Liocichla. For its efforts

Singchung Bugun Community Reserve won the India Biodiversity Award 2018.

Nyishi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh in conserving hornbills in the Pakke/Pakhui Tiger Reserve. Recently, government of Arunachal Pradesh declared the Pakke Paga Hornbill Festival (PPHF)–the state’s only

conservation festival, as a ‘state festival

Sarus Crane Conservation Project


• It has been running across 10 districts of Eastern Uttar Pradesh by Wildlife Trust of India in collaboration with Tata Trusts and the U.P. Forest Department.

• It involves local volunteers (called Sarus Mitra or Friends of the Sarus), Tata Trust partner NGOs and Sarus Protection Committees



india has proposed to remove rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo) from Appendix II of CITES.

• The entire genus of Dalbergia was put in the appendix

based on the “lookalike” criterion.

This criterion is not based on the level of threat the species face, but the

difficulty of distinguishing the species from other threatened species of the genus.

• The regulation of trade in the species is not necessary to avoid it becoming eligible for inclusion in Appendix I in the near future and the harvest of its specimens from the wild is not reducing the wild population to a level at which its survival might be threatened by continued harvesting or other influences.

• India has also proposed to transfer small clawed otters (Aonyx cinereus), smooth coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata), Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans) from Appendix II to Appendix I, and inclusion of Gekko gecko and Wedge fish (Rhinidae) in Appendix II of CITES.

Gekko gecko is traded highly for Chinese traditional medicine.

HUMPBACK DOLPHINS Recently, Humpback dolphins were spotted near the Mumbai coast.

About Humpback Dolphins

Range: Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphin is known to occur within the Indian Ocean from South Africa to India.

Habitat: Species are among the most adaptive ones due to their habitat preference for shallow waters places them in some of the world’s most intensively utilised, fished, shipped, modified and polluted waters.

IUCN status: Endangered.

WPA Protection: Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972



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