With the change in format since 2011, UPSC is constantly giving more weightage to ‘Environment Section’. There can be various reasons to it from inclusion of Indian Forest Services (IFoS) to increasing worldwide environmental concern.

The importance of Environment can be seen from the fact that it constitutes around 25-30 percent of the General Studies Paper 3. Skip this at your own risk.

How to Prepare

There are many books and coaching notes in the market but seeing the dynamic and unpredictable nature of the subject, there is no concrete material available. Considering this many aspirants find it difficult to prepare and lose substantially in Prelims. Aspire IAS provides you everything at one place by our PT oriented specialized batch of Environment. It is very important to know the basics from the NCERT texts or any book, but is that sufficient?

Many aspirants start on a higher note but without knowing the need or essence, they get stuck in between and lose energy. This costs them severely and the vicious cycle of preparation goes on.

What to read?

  • STATIC: Basic source or say, best source is NCERT
    • Geography-Class 6th to 12th
    • Biology-Class 11th and 12th (Old and New)- A must read
    • ICSE books – Class 9th, 10th, 11th
  • India Year Book-Environment Chapter
  • DYNAMIC : The Hindu and Down to Earth.

Things to remember while preparing for Environment

  • A simple approach for environment related topics is a mix of static and dynamic portion.
  • Here we will not tell you to exhaustively cover everything on earth but to simply relate and learn in a smarter way.
  • While going through the article, you will know how to pick issues from newspapers and relate it to static portion.
  • It is to make your life easy. Make sure that your preparation is as easy as it could be. There is nothing to panic in life. At least environment section should not panic you after going through this.


How to pick issues?

Broadly UPCS questions are based on following front.

  • General issues on Environmental Ecology– ecological terms like Ecotone, Ecological niche ecosystem, effects of environmental deterioration, how it affects human being. Food chain in the ecosystem.
  • Pollution – Acid rain, Photochemical smog, Green House Gases (GHG’s), Ozone hole, algal bloom.
  • Bio-diversity (which also overlaps with topics from Geography)- why biodiversity is important for human survival, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) – Red Data Book, Biodiversity Hotspots.
  • Conservation - Conservation of natural resources, National Parks, Wildlife conservations, Wetlands, Biosphere Reserves etc. – internationally recognized Wetlands and Biosphere Reserves of India.
  • Sustainable Development– renewable energy, Biotechnology (bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides), Biomass gasification.
  • Ecologically sensitive areas – Western Ghats, Himalayas.
  • Climate Change – mitigation measures taken at national and international level (Kyoto protocol, Montreal protocol) recent climate change summits held, objectives of the summits.
  • Laws, Regulatory Bodies and Policies at national and international level: Environment Protection Act, Forest Right Act, National Biodiversity Authority, Protocols and Summits like Cartagena Protocol, Nagoya Protocol and Lima Conference etc.
  • Intergovernmental Organizations, Treaties and Conventions related to climate change, biodiversity - Ramsar Convention, Montreux Record, The three Rio Conventions—Convention on Biological Diversity(CoBD), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification – from the 1992 Earth Summit) etc.
  • Organisations like UNEP, FAO, UNESCO etc.

Note: Google for the latest updates on the recent treaties and updates taken at the national and international level with regard to Climate Change, Conservation and Biodiversity. Use ‘Orient BlackSwan School Atlas’- Page No. 35 for finding the location of the Conservation sites, rivers flowing near-by, hills. At least 2 questions are frequently asked every year in the Prelims Exam.

Biodiversity and Conservation


Broadly UPCS questions are based on following front.

  • Concentrate on types of biodiversity
  • Methods to protect biodiversity in India
  • Causes of biodiversity loss- Climate change, invasive species, habitat change etc
  • Marine, Animal and Plant Biodiversity
  • Protection Networks- Wildlife Sanctuary, National Park and Bio-reserves
  • Biodiversity Hot Spots-India and World, criticism against hotspots
  • Bio-prospecting and Bio-piracy issues
  • International Conservation initiatives and India- Cartagena and Nagoya Protocol
  • Laws and Policies- India and World, Convention on Biodiversity, Aichi Targets,
  • Biodiversity Act, 2002.
  • Read Environment chapter of India Year Book

Note: A factual question. Though it requires basic concepts but can you remember endless things from books? While going through newspapers try to find out any such news that fall under this domain and remember the locations or any relevant information as such.

International and Indian laws/Bodies and Policies


  • Concentrate on recent meetings and United Nations initiatives.
  • Indian policies in news like Environment Protection Act and Bodies/Committees under it like GEAC or Pollution Control Act-any changes or modifications therein. Additionally focus on recent issues related to any environmental bodies.
  • Terms like Kyoto mechanism, Emission Trading etc.
  • Carbon Trading and Leakage issues
  • Wetland conservation initiative- UPSC is asking too many questions from wetland from past two years.
  • Ramsar Convention, Montreux Record
  • The three Rio Conventions—Convention on Biological Diversity(CoBD), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification – from the 1992 Earth Summit) etc. Note that these are for Sustainable Development
  • Organisations like UNEP, World Bank, FAO, UNESCO etc. and their environmental initiatives & reports. For example BioCarbon Fund Initiative of World Bank, IUCN by UNESCO, Global Environmental Facilities, Green Bonds & Green Climate Funds etc.

Environmental Terminologies and issues related with pollution/water conservation etc.


  • Many questions from this section have appeared in UPSC prelims. For example Ecotone, Coral Reefs, Carbon Credits, Edge Species etc
  • Problems of Persistent Organic Pollutant
  • Acid rains- Content and impact
  • Ozone depletion- Atmospheric ozone
  • Global Dimming
  • Eutrophication- Water pollution
  • Diseases- Minamata and silicosis etc
  • Biomagnification, Bioaccumulation and Bio-concentration
  • Bioremediation
  • Issue of Oil Zappers

Current Environmental Issues


  • Indoor Air pollution- Air Quality Control
  • Land Degradation and Land use
  • Formation of Ground Level Ozone
  • Bharat Stage Mission
  • National Water Policy
  • Solid Waste Management
  • Use of Plastics
  • Marine Pollution and impact on Coral reefs and Lagoons
  • Polar Amplification
  • Ocean Acidification and impact
  • Water and Carbon Footprints
  • Ecological Debts
  • Organic Farming and Vermi-compost etc
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