Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What are the Eco-sensitive Zones (ESZs)?

GS Paper 3:

Syllabus: Conservation related issues.



The Supreme Court has directed that every protected forest, national park and wildlife sanctuary across the country should have a mandatory eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of a minimum one km starting from their demarcated boundaries.


What’s the issue?

  • The judgment came on a petition instituted for the protection of forest lands in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu.
  • Subsequently, the scope of that writ petition was enlarged by the court so as to protect such natural resources throughout the country.


Directions by the Court:

  1. In case any national park or protected forest already has a buffer zone extending beyond one km, that would prevail.
  2. In case the question of the extent of buffer zone was pending a statutory decision, then the court’s direction to maintain the one-km safety zone would be applicable until a final decision is arrived at under the law.
  3. Mining within the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries shall not be permitted.
  4. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Home Secretaries of States responsible for the compliance of the judgment.


About ESZs:

  1. Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areas notified by the MoEFCC around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  2. The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.
  3. They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.
  4. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 does not mention the word “Eco-Sensitive Zones”.
  5. An ESZ could go up to 10 kilometres around a protected area as provided in the Wildlife Conservation Strategy, 2002.
  6. Moreover, in the case where sensitive corridors, connectivity and ecologically important patches, crucial for landscape linkage, are beyond 10 km width, these should be included in the ESZs.


Significance of ESZ:

The purpose of declaring ESZs around national parks, forests and sanctuaries is to create some kind of a “shock absorber” for the protected areas.

  • These zones would act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to those involving lesser protection.


Need of the hour:

The nation’s natural resources have been for years ravaged by mining and other activities.

  • Hence, the government should not confine its role to that of a “facilitator” of economic activities for the “immediate upliftment of the fortunes of the State”.
  • It has to act as a trustee for the benefit of the general public in relation to the natural resources so that sustainable development could be achieved in the long term.



Prelims Link:

  1. How an eco-sensitive zone is declared?
  2. How is it declared?
  3. Boundaries.


Mains Link:

Discuss the need for eco sensitive zones around the protected areas.



Q.4) Consider the following statements:

    1. Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) are notified by respective State governments only.
    2. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 does not mention the word “Eco-Sensitive Zones”.

Choose the correct answer using the codes given below:


    1. 1 only.
    2. 2 only.
    3. Both.
    4. None.

Sources: the Hindu.