Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ)
#GS-03 Biodiversity Conservation
Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ):
- ESZs also known as Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areas notified by the MoEFCC around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
- They are created to be the “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 does not contain the word “Eco-Sensitive Zones”.
- Supreme Court declared a mandatory minimum of 1km of ESZ to serve as a buffer for every national park and wildlife sanctuary in the country.
- In case any national park or protected forest already has a buffer zone extending beyond one km, that would be maintained.
- Eco-sensitive zones need not be uniform all around and it could have variable width and extent.
Rules for ESZ:
- The National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016) of MoEFCC encourages the state governments to declare land falling within 10 km of the boundaries of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries as eco-fragile zones or Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986.
- The Supreme Court, on June 3, 2022, directed that every national park and wildlife sanctuary in the country will have a mandatory eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of at least one kilometre starting from its demarcated boundaries.
The need of ESZ:
- These areas act as a buffer for protected areas and help to reduce developmental pressures around a wildlife sanctuary or national park.
- They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas having lesser protection.
Prohibited activities in ESZ:
- Commercial mining, saw mills, Tourism, establishment of major hydroelectric projects (HEP), commercial use of wood, discharge of effluents or any solid waste or production of hazardous
Regulated activities in ESZ:
- Felling of trees, establishment of hotels and resorts, commercial use of natural water, erection of electrical cables, widening of roads, drastic change of agriculture system, such as adoption of heavy technology, pesticides etc.
Permitted activities in ESZ:
- Ongoing agricultural or horticultural practices, use of renewable energy sources, rainwater harvesting, organic farming,adoption of green technology for all activities.