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How To Prepare Environment and Ecology for UPSC

  • Categories
    General Studies
  • Published
    17th Jun, 2021

Since past few years, some drastic changes have been seen in the UPSC Civil Services Exam. The one visible change that has been witnessed is putting higher weight age on the subject of Environment, Ecology and Biodiversity in its examination syllabus. Environment and ecology as optional subject is quite dynamic in nature. Because of this fact there is scarcity of right resource and book in the market pertaining to subject. The absence of concrete study material and probability of unpredictability in questions asked can put any aspirant in an uncomfortable position.

Environment and ecology is an important topic from the perspective of both the IAS Prelims and mains. Questions from this subject constitute approximately 25-30 per cent of the general studies paper 1. In the IAS prelims, a significant number of questions, precisely between 15 and 20 are asked every year.

Environmental & Ecology and its Syllabus

As far as the UPSC syllabus is concerned for IAS prelims exam the following has been as mentioned as syllabus:

  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization General Science.

While for mains exam it is covered in General Studies paper 3. The syllabus has been mentioned as follows:

  • Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

While preparing for mains exam one should have an elaborate detail of the UPSC syllabus to understand It properly.

The following areas should be covered exclusively:

Biodiversity (Part of Geography)

Study International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), why biodiversity is important for human survival, Red Data Book and Biodiversity Hotspots.


Cover Acid rain, Greenhouse Gases (GHG’s), Photochemical smog, algal bloom, and the Ozone hole.

Sustainable Development

Cover Biotechnology (bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides), renewable energy, Biomass gasification.

Climate Change

Study the mitigation measures taken at national and international level (Kyoto protocol, Montreal protocol) as well as recent climate change summits held and the objectives of the summits.


Cover National Parks, Wildlife conservation, Biosphere Reserves, Conservation of natural resources, internationally recognized Wetlands and Biosphere Reserves of India.

Make Environment Notes for UPSC from Topics Like:

  • Ecologically sensitive areas
  • Western Ghats, Himalayas
  • Laws, Regulatory Bodies and Policies at the national and international level

Cover the Forest Right Act, National Biodiversity Authority, Environment Protection Act, Protocols and Summits like Nagoya Protocol, Cartagena Protocol, and Lima Conference etc.

  • Organizations like UNEP, FAO, UNESCO etc.
  • Intergovernmental Organizations, Treaties and Conventions Related to Climate Change, Biodiversity

Cover the Montreux Record, The three Rio Conventions - Convention on Biological Diversity (CoB), Ramsar Convention, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification – from the 1992 Earth Summit) etc.

Books and Resources:

  1. The NCERT Textbooks

The NCERT textbooks are your go-to reference guide to understand the basics. The language used in these books is simple with the right amount of technical jargon that will introduce you to the foundational terminology.

  • Class VI To Class XI – NCERT Geography
  • Class VII And Class X – NCERT Science
  • Class XII – NCERT Chemistry
  • Class XII – NCERT Biology
  1. Ecology and Environment by P. D. Sharma
  2. Magazines

Besides the above-mentioned reference textbooks, you must also refer to the Science Reporter, Down To Earth, and pratiyogita darpan magazine.

     4. The Newspaper

News Paper like The Hindu should be referred to keep abreast with all current issues dealing with the topic.

     5. The Official Website of The Environment Ministry

The Environment Ministry is responsible for all the laws, practices, problem identification and rectification regarding the environment in India.

Strategy to Cover Environment & Ecology for UPSC

Before we get to the perfect method to prepare, here are a few effective tips to get you started: 

  • One should read newspaper on regular basis.
  • Extraction of environment related issues from newspaper.
  • Try to form a conceptual knowledge base regarding crucial environment-related news you read
  • Your aim must be to integrate static and dynamic portion.
  • You must target prelims from mains point of view.
  • NCERT books for basics and fundamentals of general science and geography as given above.
  • Be selective while reading from NCERT books and pick chapters strictly relevant to Ecology, Environment, Biodiversity and Climate Change.
  • For Terms and definition, one should refer to NCERT books salient chapters.
  • Certain information including the terms like publication reports, organizations, issues, treaties, etc. related to Environment must be paid attention to.
  • You must make a note on information surrounding the above-mentioned terminologies by collecting relevant information and current issues related to it.
  • You must analyze the nature of questions from the previous year’s papers to prepare accordingly.
  • Practice multiple-choice questions. It will help you review your knowledge and revise whatever you’ve studied.
  • You must stay updated with all current issues of national and international environmental importance.
  • Regular answer writing practice should be done to keep a hold on concepts and learning
  • Practice mock to keep your learning intact

    Just follow these tips religiously and referring only to the above-mentioned sources of study will help you prepare Environment and Ecology for UPSC Mains. To gain the required knowledge, retain relevant information and write expected answers on your d-day, you must make these tips a daily practice.

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