Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) around Protected Areas

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) came out with new guidelines to create eco-sensitive zones (ESZs) around Protected Areas to prevent ecological damage caused due to developmental activities around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in 2011.

ESZ guidelines, would also ensure that these areas act as “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.

“The basic aim is to regulate certain activities around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries so as to minimise the negative impacts of such activities on the fragile ecosystem encompassing the protected areas,” the Ministry said in its new guidelines.

The panel could also suggest the best methods to manage such zones and broad-based thematic activities to be included in the master plan for the areas, which have been classified as prohibited, restricted with safeguards and permissible. The guidelines said activities, including commercial mining, setting of saw mills and industries causing pollution, commercial use of firewood and major hydro-power projects, are prohibited in such areas.

It also prohibits tourism activities like flying over protected areas in an aircraft or hot air balloon, and discharge of effluents and solid waste in natural water bodies or terrestrial areas.

Felling of trees, drastic change in agriculture systems and commercial use of natural water resources, including groundwater harvesting and setting up of hotels and resorts, are the activities regulated in the areas.

Activities permitted in the areas include ongoing agriculture and horticulture practices by local communities, rainwater harvesting, organic farming, adoption of green technology and use of renewable energy sources.

Prohibited Activities in 
  • Commercial Mining
  • Setting of SAW mills
  • Commercial use of firewoods
  • Establishment of Hydro Electric Projects
  • Use of production of hazardous substances
  • Discharge of solid effluents in water bodies.

Regulated Activities
  • Felling of Tree
  • Establishment of hotels
  • Drastic change of agriculture systems
  • Commercial use of natural water
  • Erection of electic cables
  • Use of polythene bags
  • Widening of roads