Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the natural environment on individual, organization controlled on governmental levels, for the benefit of both the environment and humans. Due to the pressures of overconsumption, population and technology, the biophysical environment is being degraded, sometimes permanently. This has been recognized, and governments have begun placing restraints on activities that cause environmental degradation. Since the 1960s, activity of environmental movements has created awareness of the various environmental problems. There is no agreement on the extent of the environmental impact of human activity and even scientific dishonesty occurs, so protection measures are occasionally debated.
Approaches with regards to environmental protection
Voluntary environmental agreements
In industrial countries, voluntary environmental agreements often provide a platform for companies to be recognized for moving beyond the minimum regulatory standards and thus support the development of best environmental practice. For instance, in India, Environment Improvement Trust (EIT) has been working for environment & forest protection since 1998. A group of Green Volunteers get a goal of Green India Clean India concept. CA Gajendra Kumar Jain a Chartered Accountant, is the founder of Environment Improvement Trust in Sojat city a small village of State of Rajasthan in India  In developing countries, such as throughout Latin America, these agreements are more commonly used to remedy significant levels of non-compliance with mandatory regulation. The challenges that exist with these agreements lie in establishing baseline data, targets, monitoring and reporting. Due to the difficulties inherent in evaluating effectiveness, their use is often questioned and, indeed, the whole environment may well be adversely affected as a result. The key advantage of their use in developing countries is that their use helps to build environmental management capacity.
An ecosystems approach to resource management and environmental protection aims to consider the complex interrelationships of an entire ecosystem in decision making rather than simply responding to specific issues and challenges. Ideally the decision-making processes under such an approach would be a collaborative approach to planning and decision making that involves a broad range of stakeholders across all relevant governmental departments, as well as representatives of industry, environmental groups and community. This approach ideally supports a better exchange of information, development of conflict-resolution strategies and improved regional conservation.Religions also play an important role in conservation of environment.Ref-Hadiya Habib (Role of religious education and different religions in conservation and maintenance of environment, www.oiirj.org)vol 07, July 2017, special issue.
International environmental agreements
Many of the earth's resources are especially vulnerable because they are influenced by human impacts across many countries. As a result of this, many attempts are made by countries to develop agreements that are signed by multiple governments to prevent damage or manage the impacts of human activity on natural resources. This can include agreements that impact factors such as climate, oceans, rivers and air pollution. These international environmental agreements are sometimes legally binding documents that have legal implications when they are not followed and, at other times, are more agreements in principle or are for use as codes of conduct. These agreements have a long history with some multinational agreements being in place from as early as 1910 in Europe, America and Africa. Some of the most well-known international agreements include the Kyoto Protocol and others.
Main article: Kyoto Protocol
Discussion concerning environmental protection often focuses on the role of government, legislation, and law enforcement. However, in its broadest sense, environmental protection may be seen to be the responsibility of all the people and not simply that of government. Decisions that impact the environment will ideally involve a broad range of stakeholders including industry, indigenous groups, environmental group and community representatives. Gradually, environmental decision-making processes are evolving to reflect this broad base of stakeholders and are becoming more collaborative in many countries.
Many constitutions acknowledge the fundamental right to environmental protection and many international treaties acknowledge the right to live in a healthy environment. Also, many countries have organizations and agencies devoted to environmental protection. There are international environmental protection organizations, such as the United Nations Environment Programme.
Although environmental protection is not simply the responsibility of government agencies, most people view these agencies as being of prime importance in establishing and maintaining basic standards that protect both the environment and the people interacting with it.
Tanzania is recognised as having some of the greatest biodiversity of any African country. Almost 40% of the land has been established into a network of protected areas, including several national parks. The concerns for the natural environment include damage to ecosystems and loss of habitat resulting from population growth, expansion of subsistence agriculture, pollution, timber extraction and significant use of timber as fuel.
History of environmental protection
Environmental protection in Tanzania began during the German occupation of East Africa (1884-1919) — colonial conservation laws for the protection of game and forests were enacted, whereby restrictions were placed upon traditional indigenous activities such as hunting, firewood collecting and cattle grazing. In year 1948, Serengeti was officially established as the first national park for wild cats in East Africa. Since 1983, there has been a more broad-reaching effort to manage environmental issues at a national level, through the establishment of the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) and the development of an environmental act. In 1998 Environment Improvement Trust (EIT) start working for environment & forest protection in India from a small city Sojat. Founder of Environment Improvement Trust is CA Gajendra Kumar Jain working with volunteers.
Division of the biosphere is the main government body that oversees protection. It does this through the formulation of policy, coordinating and monitoring environmental issues, environmental planning and policy-oriented environmental research.The National Environment Management Council (NEMC) is an institution that was initiated when the National Environment Management Act was first introduced in year 1983. This council has the role to advise governments and the international community on a range of environmental issues. The NEMC the following purposes: provide technical advice; coordinate technical activities; develop enforcement guidelines and procedures; assess, monitor and evaluate activities that impact the environment; promote and assist environmental information and communication; and seek advancement of scientific knowledge.
The National Environment Policy of 1997 acts as a framework for environmental decision making in Tanzania. The policy objectives are to achieve the following:
- Ensure sustainable and equitable use of resources without degrading the environment or risking health or safety
- Prevent and control degradation of land, water, vegetation and air
- Conserve and enhance natural and man-made heritage, including biological diversity of unique ecosystems
- Improve condition and productivity of degraded areas
- Raise awareness and understanding of the link between environment and development
- Promote individual and community participation
- Promote international cooperation
Tanzania is a signatory to a significant number of international conventions including the Rio Declaration on Development and Environment 1992 and the Convention on Biological Diversity 1996. The Environmental Management Act, 2004, is the first comprehensive legal and institutional framework to guide environmental-management decisions. The policy tools that are parts of the act includes the use of: environmental-impact assessments, strategics environmentals assessments and taxation on pollution for specific industries and products. The effectiveness of shifing of this act will only become clear over time as concerns regarding its implementation become apparent based on the fact that, historically, there has been a lack of capacity to enforce environmental laws and a lack of working tools to bring environmental-protection objectives into practice.
Formal environmental protection in China House was first stimulated by the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm, Sweden. Following this, they began establishing environmental protection agencies and putting controls on some of its industrial waste. China was one of the first developing countries to implement a sustainable development strategy. In 1983 the State Council announced that environmental protection would be one of China's basic national policies and in 1984 the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) was established. Following severe flooding of the Yangtze River basin in 1998, NEPA was upgraded to the State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) meaning that environmental protection was now being implemented at a ministerial level. In 2008, SEPA became known by its current name of Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People's Republic of China (MEP).
Pollution control instruments in China
|Command-and-control||Economic incentives||Voluntary instruments||Public participation|
|Concentration-based pollution discharge controls||Pollution levy fee||Environmental labeling system||Clean-up campaign|
|Mass-based controls on total provincial discharge||Non-compliance fines||ISO 14000 system||Environmental awareness campaign|
|Environmental impact assessments (EIA)||Discharge permit system||Cleaner production||Air pollution index|
|Three synchronization program||Sulfur emission fee||NGOs||Water quality disclosure|
|Deadline transmission trading||Administrative permission hearing|
|Centralized pollution control||Subsidies for energy saving products|
|Two compliance policy||Regulation on refuse credit to high-polluting firms|
|Environmental compensation fee|
Environmental pollution and ecological degradation has resulted in economic losses for China. In 2005, economic losses (mainly from air pollution) were calculated at 7.7% of China's GDP. This grew to 10.3% by 2002 and the economic loss from water pollution (6.1%) began to exceed that caused by air pollution. China has been one of the top performing countries in terms of GDP growth (9.64% in the past ten years). However, the high economic growth has put immense pressure on its environment and the environmental challenges that China faces are greater than most countries. In 2010 China was ranked 121st out of 163 countries on the Environmental Performance Index.
China has taken initiatives to increase its protection of the environment and combat environmental degradation:
- China's investment in renewable energy grew 18% in 2007 to $15.6 billion, accounting for ~10% of the global investment in this area;
- In 2008, spending on the environment was 1.49% of GDP, up 3.4 times from 2000;
- The discharge of CO (carbon monoxide) and SO2 (sulfur dioxide) decreased by 6.61% and 8.95% in 2008 compared with that in 2005;
- China's protected nature reserves have increased substantially. In 1978 there were only 34 compared with 2,538 in 2010. The protected nature reserve system now occupies 15.5% of the country; this is higher than the world average.
Rapid growth in GDP has been China's main goal during the past three decades with a dominant development model of inefficient resource use and high pollution to achieve high GDP. For China to develop sustainably, environmental protection should be treated as an integral part of its economic policies.
Quote from Shengxian Zhou, head of MEP (2009): "Good economic policy is good environmental policy and the nature of environmental problem is the economic structure, production form and develop model."
Environmental protection has become an important task for the institutions of the European Community after the Maastricht Treaty for the European Union ratification by all the Member States. The EU is already very active in the field of environmental policy with important directives like those on environmental impact assessment and on the access to environmental information for citizens in the Member States.
In Russia, environmental protection is considered an integral part of national safety. There is an authorized state body - the Federal Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology. However, there are a lot of environmental problems.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has identified 17 megadiverse countries. The list includes six Latin American countries: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. Mexico and Brazil stand out among the rest because they have the largest area, population and number of species. These countries represent a major concern for environmental protection because they have high rates of deforestation, ecosystems loss, pollution, and population growth.
Brazil has the largest amount of the world's tropical forests, 4,105,401 km2 (48.1% of Brazil), concentrated in the Amazon region. Brazil is home to vast biological diversity, first among the megadiverse countries of the world, having between 15%-20% of the 1.5 million globally described species.
The organization in charge of environment protection is the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment (in Portuguese: Ministério do Meio Ambiente, MMA). It was first created in year 1973 with the name Special Secretariat for the Environment (Secretaria Especial de Meio Ambiente), changing names several times, and adopting the final name in year 1999. The Ministry is responsible for addressing the following issues:
- A national policy for the environment and for water resources;
- A policy for the preservation, conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems, biodiversity and forests;
- Proposing strategies, mechanisms, economic and social instruments for improving environmental quality, and sustainable use of natural resources;
- Policies for integrating production and the environment;
- Environmental policies and programs for the Legal Amazon;
- Ecological and economic territorial zoning.
In 2011, protected areas of the Amazon covered 2,197,485 km2 (an area larger than Greenland), with conservation units, like national parks, accounting for just over half (50.6%), and indigenous territories representing the remaining 49.4%.
With over 200,000 different species, Mexico is home to 10–12% of the world's biodiversity, ranking first in reptile biodiversity and second in mammals—one estimate indicates that over 50% of all animal and plant species live in Mexico.
The history of environmental policy in Mexico started in the 1940s with the enactment of the Law of Conservation of Soil and Water (in Spanish: Ley de Conservación de Suelo y Agua). Three decades later, at the beginning of the 1970s, the Law to Prevent and Control Environmental Pollution was created (Ley para Prevenir y Controlar la Contaminación Ambiental).
In year 1972 was the first direct response from the federal government to address eminent health effects from environmental issues. It established the administrative organization of the Secretariat for the Improvement of the Environment (Subsecretaría para el Mejoramiento del Ambiente) in the Department of Health and Welfare.
The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, SEMARNAT) is Mexico's environment ministry. The Ministry is responsible for addressing the following issues:
- Promote the protection, restoration and conservation of ecosystems, natural resources, goods and environmental services, and to facilitate their use and sustainable development.
- Develop and implement a national policy on natural resources
- Promote environmental management within the national territory, in coordination with all levels of government and the private sector.
- Evaluate and provide determination to the environmental impact statements for development projects and prevention of ecological damage
- Implement national policies on climate change and protection of the ozone layer.
- Direct work and studies on national meteorological, climatological, hydrological, and geohydrological systems, and participate in international conventions on these subjects.
- Regulate and monitor the conservation of waterways
In November 2000 there were 127 protected areas; currently there are 174, covering an area of 25,384,818 hectares, increasing federally protected areas from 8.6% to 12.85% its land area.
In 2008, there was 98,487,116 ha of terrestrial protected area, covering 12.8% of the land area of Australia. The 2002 figures of 10.1% of terrestrial area and 64,615,554 ha of protected marine area were found to poorly represent about half of Australia's 85 bioregions.
Environmental protection in Australia could be seen as starting with the formation of the first National Park, Royal National Park, in 1879. More progressive environmental protection had it start in the 1960s and 1970s with major international programs such as the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972, the Environment Committee of the OECD in 1970, and the United Nations Environment Programme of 1972. These events laid the foundations by increasing public awareness and support for regulation. State environmental legislation was irregular and deficient until the Australian Environment Council (AEC) and Council of Nature Conservation Ministers (CONCOM) were established in 1972 and 1974, creating a forum to assist in coordinating environmental and conservation policies between states and neighbouring countries. These councils have since been replaced by the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) in 1991 and finally the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) in 2001.
At a national level, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is the primary environmental protection legislation for the Commonwealth of Australia. It concerns matters of national and international environmental significance regarding flora, fauna, ecological communities and cultural heritage. It also has jurisdiction over any activity conducted by the Commonwealth, or affecting it, that has significant environmental impact. The act covers eight main areas:
There are several Commonwealth protected lands due to partnerships with traditional native owners, such as Kakadu National Park, extraordinary biodiversity such as Christmas Island National Park, or managed cooperatively due to cross-state location, such as the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves.
At a state level, the bulk of environmental protection issues are left to the responsibility of the state or territory. Each state in Australia has its own environmental protection legislation and corresponding agencies. Their jurisdiction is similar and covers point-source pollution, such as from industry or commercial activities, land/water use, and waste management. Most protected lands are managed by states and territories with state legislative acts creating different degrees and definitions of protected areas such as wilderness, national land and marine parks, state forests, and conservation areas. States also create regulation to limit and provide general protection from air, water, and sound pollution.
At a local level, each city or regional council has responsibility over issues not covered by state or national legislation. This includes non-point source, or diffuse pollution, such as sediment pollution from construction sites.
Australia ranks second place on the UN 2010 Human Development Index and one of the lowest debt to GDP ratios of the developed economies. This could be seen as coming at the cost of the environment, with Australia being the world leader in coal exportation and species extinctions. Some have been motivated to proclaim it is Australia's responsibility to set the example of environmental reform for the rest of the world to follow.
At a national level, the Ministry for the Environment is responsible for environmental policy and the Department of Conservation addresses conservation issues. At a regional level the regional councils administer the legislation and address regional environmental issues.
See also: Environmental protection in Switzerland
The environmental protection in Switzerland is mainly based on the measures to be taken against global warming. The pollution in Switzerland is mainly the pollution caused by vehicles and the litteration by tourists.
Since 1969, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working to protect the environment and human health. All U.S. states have their own state departments of environmental protection.
The EPA has drafted "Seven Priorities for EPA's Future", which are:
There are many works of literature that contain the themes of environmental protection but some have been fundamental to its evolution. Several pieces such as A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, Tragedy of the commons by Garrett Hardin, and Silent Spring by Rachel Carson have become classics due to their far reaching influences. Environmental protection is present in fiction as well as non-fictional literature. Books such as Antarctica and Blockade have environmental protection as subjects whereas The Lorax has become a popular metaphor for environmental protection. "The Limits of Trooghaft" by Desmond Stewart is a short story that provides insight into human attitudes towards animals. Another book called "The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury investigates issues such as bombs, wars, government control, and what effects these can have on the environment.
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Wildlife Conservation is the practising of protecting wild plant and animal species and their habitat. Wildlife plays an important role in balancing the environment and provides stability to different natural processes of nature. The goal of wildlife conservation is to ensure that nature will be around for future generations to enjoy and also to recognize the importance of wildlife and wilderness for humans and other species alike. Many nations have government agencies and NGO's dedicated to wildlife conservation, which help to implement policies designed to protect wildlife. Numerous independent non-profit organizations also promote various wildlife conservation causes.
According to the National Wildlife Federation(NWF), wildlife in the United States gets a majority of their funding through appropriations from the federal budget, annual federal and state grants, and financial efforts from programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. Furthermore, a substantial amount of funding comes from the state through the sale of hunting/fishing licenses, game tags, stamps, and excise taxes from the purchase of hunting equipment and ammunition, which collects around $200 million annually.
Wildlife conservation has become an increasingly important practice due to the negative effects of human activity on wildlife. An endangered species is defined as a population of a living species that is in the danger of becoming extinct because the species has a very low or falling population, or because they are threatened by the varying environmental or prepositional parameters.
Major dangers to wildlife
Fewer natural wildlife habitat areas remain each year. Moreover, the habitat that remains has often been degraded to bear little resemblance to the wild areas which existed in the past. Habitat loss due to destruction, fragmentation and degradation of habitat is the primary threat to the survival of wildlife.
- Climate change: Global warming is making hot days hotter, rainfall and flooding heavier, hurricanes stronger and droughts more severe. This intensification of weather and climate extremes will be the most visible impact of global warming in our everyday lives. It is also causing dangerous changes to the landscape of our world, adding stress to wildlife species and their habitat. Since many types of plants and animals have specific habitat requirements, climate change could cause disastrous loss of wildlife species. A slight drop or rise in average rainfall will translate into large seasonal changes. Hibernatingmammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects are harmed and disturbed. Plants and wildlife are sensitive to moisture change so, they will be harmed by any change in moisture level. Natural phenomena like floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, lightning, forest fires.
- Unregulated Hunting and poaching: Unregulated hunting and poaching causes a major threat to wildlife. Along with this, mismanagement of forest department and forest guards triggers this problem.
- Pollution: Pollutants released into the environment are ingested by a wide variety of organisms. Pesticides and toxic chemical being widely used, making the environment toxic to certain plants, insects, and rodents.
- Over exploitation is the over use of wildlife and plant species by people for food, clothing, pets, medicine, sport and many other purposes. People have always depended on wildlife and plants for food, clothing, medicine, shelter and many other needs. But today we are taking more than the natural world can supply. The danger is that if we take too many individuals of a species from their natural environment, the species may no longer be able to survive. The loss of one species can affect many other species in an ecosystem. The hunting, trapping, collecting and fishing of wildlife at unsustainable levels is not something new. The passenger pigeon was hunted to extinction, early in the last century, and over-hunting nearly caused the extinction of the American bison and several species of whales.
- Deforestation: Humans are continually expanding and developing, leading to an invasion of wildlife habitats. As humans continue to grow they clear forested land to create more space. This stresses wildlife populations as there are fewer homes and food sources to survive off of.
- Population: The increasing population of human beings is the major threat to wildlife. More people on the globe means more consumption of food, water and fuel, therefore more waste is generated. Major threats to wildlife are directly related to increasing population of human beings. Low population of humans results in less disturbance to wildlife.
Wildlife conservation as a government involvement
In 1972, the Government of India enacted a law called the Wild Life (Protection) Act. In America, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 protects some U.S. species that were in danger from over exploitation, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) works to prevent the global trade of wildlife, but there are many species that are not protected from being illegally traded or being over-harvested. The World Conservation Strategy was developed in 1980 by the "International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources" (IUCN) with advice, cooperation and financial assistance of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Wildlife Fund and in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco)" The strategy aims to "provide an intellectual framework and practical guidance for conservation actions." This thorough guidebook covers everything from the intended "users" of the strategy to its very priorities. It even includes a map section containing areas that have large seafood consumption and are therefore endangered by over fishing. The main sections are as follows:
- The objectives of conservation and requirements for their achievement:
- Maintenance of essential ecological processes and life-support systems.
- Preservation of genetic diversity that is flora and fauna.
- Sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems.
- Priorities for national action:
- A framework for national and sub-national conservation strategies.
- Policy making and the integration of conservation and development.
- Environmental planning and rational use allocation.
- Priorities for international action:
- International action: law and assistance.
- Tropical forests and dry lands.
- A global programme for the protection of genetic resource areas.
- Tropical forests
- Deserts and areas subject to desertification.
As major development agencies became discouraged with the public sector of environmental conservation in the late 1980s, these agencies began to lean their support towards the “private sector” or non-government organizations (NGOs). In a World Bank Discussion Paper it is made apparent that “the explosive emergence of nongovernmental organizations” was widely known to government policy makers. Seeing this rise in NGO support, the U.S. Congress made amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act in 1979 and 1986 “earmarking U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funds for biodiversity”. From 1990 moving through recent years environmental conservation in the NGO sector has become increasingly more focused on the political and economic impact of USAID given towards the “Environment and Natural Resources”. After the terror attacks on the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001 and the start of former President Bush’s War on Terror, maintaining and improving the quality of the environment and natural resources became a “priority” to “prevent international tensions” according to the Legislation on Foreign Relations Through 2002 and section 117 of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act. Furthermore, in 2002 U.S. Congress modified the section on endangered species of the previously amended Foreign Assistance Act.
Active non-government organizations
Many NGOs exist to actively promote, or be involved with wildlife conservation:
- The Nature Conservancy is a US charitable environmental organization that works to preserve the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.
- World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization working on the issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States. It is the world's largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 90 countries, supporting around 1300 conservation and environmental projects around the world. It is a charity, with approximately 60% of its funding coming from voluntary donations by private individuals. 45% of the fund's income comes from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
- Wildlife Conservation Society
- Audubon Society
- Traffic (conservation programme)
- Born Free Foundation
- Save Cambodia's Wildlife
- WildEarth Guardians