August 20, 2020

How to Prepare an Environment Paper for the UPSC Exam? A Guide to The Civil Services Examination

Over the past few years, the UPSC has placed higher weightage on the subject of Environment, Ecology and Biodiversity in its examination syllabus. Questions regarding the correct method to prepare the environment for UPSC exams is rampant.

Environment and ecology as subjects are ever-changing in nature, and there is no one source you can refer to for holistic knowledge on this subject. The absence of concrete study material and probability of unpredictability in questions asked can put any aspirant in an uncomfortable position.

To put such doubts to rest, in this article we have penned down The Best Approach And Tips For Your Perfect Environment Exam Preparation.

Should You Prepare Environment for UPSC Seriously?

Yes, you must. Environment and ecology is an important topic from the perspective of both the IAS Prelims syllabus and the IAS 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.

It won’t be a wise decision to take preparation for the environment lightly.

Let Us Review The UPSC Environment Syllabus

The list mentioned below will help you understand the topics to study and segments you must strictly concentrate on:

Environmental Ecology and its General Issues

You must study the environmental impact assessment for UPSC. Gather knowledge on ecological terms like ecotone, the ecological ecosystem, the food chain in the ecosystem., environmental deterioration and its effects on human beings.

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.

  • Organisations 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.

Also Read : Watching Videos Vs Reading Books: Which is Better for UPSC Preparations?

Effective Tips to Start Preparing for Environment & Ecology for UPSC

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

  • You must read the newspapers regularly
  • When reading the newspaper, you must be able to pick out and study only the relevant issues
  • Try to form a conceptual knowledge base regarding crucial environment-related news you read
  • Example, for a news article about the ‘Central Pollution Control Board’, you must read up on this body
  • Do not be surprised to see questions that technically fall under biology/ zoology/ geography to be asked under this section
  • A simple approach for environment-related topics is a good mix of the static and dynamic portion.

Best Resources to Prepare the Environment for UPSC!

Let us now explore the best environment book for UPSC to refer to for this crucial subject:

  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

2. Environmental Ecology Biodiversity & Climate Change – Pratiyogita Darpan

3. Ecology and Environment by P. D. Sharma

4. Magazines

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

5. The Newspaper

As with the preparation of any other subject, Environment also demands the regular reading of The Hindu to keep abreast with all current issues dealing with the topic.

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