How to prepare Environment and Ecology for IAS Prelims

Strategy to prepare Environment and Ecology for IAS

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Today we are going to discuss a very important topic for the civil services examination preparation, specially from the perspective of prelims and this topic has actually emerged as one of the most important topic for the prelims examination. This topic is definitely small but its impact is vast, we are talking about Environment and Ecology for CSE.

Environment and Ecology (Analysis)


Now since 2011 when this topic was specifically mentioned the number of questions that are, they can be allocated to this particular topic is actually very high. In 2014 as many as 18 to 20 questions were there from this section only. The reason for this is very simple, Indian Forest Services examination prelims process was introduced in that examination and the prelims process is basically merged with the Civil Services examination. So, when you appear for the Civil Services examination some of you also appear for the Indian Forest Services prelims examination.

Now, since the paper is same the weight of Environmental Ecology topic has gone up and that is why this has became an important portion of the paper. We can basically see that in 2015 the number of questions were around 11 to 12 but from this small topic/chapter is actually very significant. So, now we will try to identify that How and Why you should study Environment & Ecology so as to cover most of the things that you want to do for scoring 80 to 90 percent marks in the questions from these sections.

First and foremost you need to understand that Environmental Ecology is a subject which is combination of three different subjects and they are independent too.

An inter-disciplinary approach that includes:

  • Biology
  • Ecology and
  • Geography

Since, the approach is inter-disciplinary in nature many times we find the questions are also on the margin of different subjects. For example if we talk about Ecology & Environment we will be focussing on biosphere, biology, animal kingdom or plant kingdom, so there will be things which are inter-disciplinary in nature. Some times it will refer to biology, some time refer to ecology and some times it may refer to geography as well. So we have to be very clear what we are doing and focussing on just one topic will not suffice. Also, this is one of the greatest concern of our times so current updates and developments are again very important. We have to abreast with what is happening in the world, what has happened in last 20 years and what future course of action will be.

Areas to be focussed


If we move further or discuss about it, we need to take syllabus as the benchmark. In syllabus it is clearly mentioned (1) Environmental Ecology (2) Bio-diversity and (3) Climate Change, but the scope of these topics are actually very vast and when we talk about vast actually what all topics will be there:

  • Ecology: Its basically means the conceptual part of the ecology and there are definition based questions also. It something which is divided into two parts, first there are concept based questions so how we practically see this thing in the real world and second is definition aspect. So we have to be very comfortable with both the aspects.
  • Environmental Issues: It is related to anthropogenic factors that are in operation and there has been lot of debate and discussion about climate change, weather etc.
  • Bio-diversity: All those anthropogenic changes basically cause disruption and biodiversity, like Green revolution and we always feel that green revolution is very good but it has done what it has reduced the biodiversity part of our food (crops) etc.
  • Conservational Aspects: For example, lots of damage has been caused by various anthropogenic factors to the environment, climate, agriculture, soils entire system. So how and what we can do to conserve these things and when we talk about conservational aspects we not only consider flora we also consider fauna. So animal conservation or the plant conservation or the ecosystem conservation and every kind of conservation activities will come into picture.
  • Pollution and its impact: We are facing pollution on many levels, for example air pollution which is evident, soil pollution, river or water pollution. So, what all types of pollution its impact and what's happening in the current scenario.
  • Climate Change: There is a lot of responsibility on the developing and developed nations that how to reverse process of climate change, reduce the emission of gases etc.
  • and last but not least is the Bio-sphere and Biome.

You have to cover all these topics just to maintain that you cover all the topics which are important.

Where to Study (Sources)


When we talk about UPSC examination the nature of the exam is such that they try to understand how much you understand the concepts your position to reflect in terms of what happening in the real world situation and what are the current updates or may be the trend that is going to take place. Keeping that thing in mind the book list that we have prepared is actually very simple and almost you know about it. What you need to understand how to do it?

1) NCERT Science Class IX & Class X : In this you must focus on Environment and Geography resources.

2) NCERT Biology Class XII : You have to focus last four chapter which are basically for Environment and Ecology. If you go through that book you will understand each and every definition that is important for ecology and environment.

Reference Material

  • Environment and Ecology by  PD Sharma : It can be one book you can go through easily and it s very lucidly written and concepts are very easy to grasp.
  • Indian Year Book : Specially in this book the focus is on one particular thing that what is happening in terms of policy and what has been the impact of policy over a period of time.
  • Yojana & Kurukshetra Magazines : We need to define and classified that this is something which is important for environment & ecology aspects with these magazines.
  • Science Reporter & The Hindu : These also very good sources which cover various issues and articles on environment and ecology over period of time.

If you try to follow these resources you will get a very good clarity in terms of concepts, definition, what is the current status, trends and everything related to that. You must also visit Ministry of Environment website and it will help you about what government policies are, annual reports and government stand on various international conventions. You have use Wikipedia also on this particular aspect that you refer to what various treaties & conventions and international obligations are there. If you refer to these things it is actually very easy to solve the questions which are there.

Reference: Prof. Nagendra Pratap


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