Today In this article I want to walk you through the complete Environment syllabus for UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam.

As you know, the Environment comes under Prelims as well as GS Paper-3 in UPSC Mains Syllabus. Almost 12-28 questions are coming in the UPSC Prelims exam every year, from this part only.

So without further ado let’s start our discussion from Environment syllabus for UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam as per UPSC notification.

General Studies – III (Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Security & Disaster Management) 250 marks

Environment syllabus for UPSC

According to UPSC notification, these are the topics that are given.


General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity, and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization


Conservation, environmental pollution, and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Disaster and disaster management.

Micro Topics: Environment Syllabus 

1. Environment and Ecology: Basic Understanding

  • Introduction
  • Categories of Environment
  • Features of Environment
  • Components of Environment
  • Ecology

2. Ecosystem and Its Dynamics

  • Ecosystem Definitions
  • Properties of Ecosystem
  • Components of Ecosystem
    • Abiotic Factors
    • Biotic Factors
  • Ecosystem Dynamics

3. Biogeochemical Cycles

  • Gaseous Cycle
    • Carbon Cycle
  • Human Impact on the Carbon Cycle
  • Effects of High Concentration of Greenhouse Gases
    • Hydrological Cycle
    • Nitrogen Cycle
    • Human Impact on the Nitrogen Cycle
    • Oxygen Cycle
  • Sedimentary Cycle
    • Sulphur Cycle
  • Human Impact on the Sulphur Cycle
  • Phosphorus Cycle

4. Types of Ecosystems

  • Terrestrial Ecosystem
  • Aquatic Ecosystem
  • Changes in Ecosystem
  • Ecosystem Conservation
  • Ecology vs. Economy

5. Population Ecology

  • Population Characteristics
  • Population Growth Models
  • Species
  • Carrying Capacity of Earth

6. Biosphere

  • The extent of the Biosphere
  • Working of the Biosphere
  • Importance of the Biosphere
  • Alpha, Beta, Gamma Diversity
  • Biomes
  • Global Biomes
    • Major Biomes of the World
    • WWF Classification of Biomes
    • Terrestrial Biomes
    • Aquatic Biomes
  • Indian Biomes

7. Biodiversity

  • Types of Biodiversity
  • Value of the Biodiversity
  • Threats to Biodiversity
    • Causes of Biodiversity losses (‘The Evil Quartet’)
    • Invasive species
    • Effects of Loss of Bio-Diversity
  • Extinction of Species
    • Types – Natural, Mass, Anthropogenic
    • Causes of Extinction
    • Consequences of Extinction of Species

8. Biodiversity Conservation

    • Conservation Strategies
    • Conservation Tools
    • IUCN
    • IUCN Red List
    • Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESAs)
    • In-situ methods of conservation of biodiversity
      • Advantages of In-situ Conservation
      • Disadvantages of In-situ conservation
    • Ex-situ Methods of Conservation of Biodiversity

9. Pollution & Degradation

  • Land Degradation
    • Causes and Impact of Land Degradation
    • Desertification
    • Sustainable Land Management
    • Soil Erosion
    • Problems due to Excessive Irrigation
    • Soil Conservation
  • Air Pollution
    • Causes of Air Pollution
    • Harmful Effects of Common Air Pollutants
    • Control of Air Pollution
  • Marine Pollution
    • Effects of Marine Pollution
    • Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2011
  • Mining & Pollution
    • Effects of Mining on Environment
    • Concept of Sustainable Mining
    • Acts to regulate the adverse effects of Mining Activities
  • Other Pollution
    • Effects of Noise Pollution on Human Health
    • Harmful Effects from Biological Contaminants
    • Harmful Effects of Radioactive Pollution
    • Nuclear Accidents
  • Water Degradation
    • Measurement of Water Pollution
    • Harmful Effects of Water Pollution
    • Delhi Pollution

10. Waste Management

    • Solid Waste Management
      • Salient features of SWM Rules, 2016
    • e-waste Management
      • Pollutants and their Health Impacts
      • Importance of the E-Waste Management
      • E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2016
    • Biomedical Waste
      • Hazards Associated with Waste Management
      • Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016
    • Hazardous Waste
      • Hazardous Waste Treatment
      • Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016

11. Climate Change

  • Factors Affecting Climate Change
  • Impact of climate change & its mitigation
  • Climate Change Management
    • Conventions
    • International Organisations

12. Environmental Impact Assessment of Sustainable Practices

  • Impact of Agriculture on Environment
  • Sustainable Agriculture
    • Hi-tech Farming Methods
    • Rain Water Harvesting
    • Green Buildings and their Rating System in India
  • Eco-tourism – Advantages & Disadvantages of Eco-tourism


1. Wildlife

  • Man-Animal Conflicts in India
  • Poaching activities in India
  • Development leads to tiger extinction
  • Elephant Conservation
  • International treaties for wildlife conservation, Use of drones for wildlife conservation
  • Urban Land Acting as Death Traps for Birds
  • Eco-Bridges and Biodiversity Management
  • Sunderbans at risk due to Climate Change
  • Critical Wildlife Habitats
  • Declining Population of Pollinators
  • International treaties for Wildlife Conservation

2. Combating Pollution

  • Indoor Air Pollution and its impact
  • Impact of Particulate Matter
  • Smog and its impact
  • Aerosol shrinking India’s Monsoon
  • Stubble Burning
  • Mobile radiation Impact on Health
  • Heavy water Pollution
  • Plastic Pollution
  • Light Immersion Pollution
  • Idol Pollution
  • Oil Spill
  • Garbage Dumping and its Environment
  • E-waste Management Rules 2016
  • Groundwater contamination (Arsenic, Uranium)
  • Bharat Stage Norm
  • What is the Polluters Pay Model?
  • LANCET Study REPORT: Most Pollution linked …deaths occur in India
  • Beach (Coastal) Pollution
  • Nitrogen Pollution
  • Hazardous Waste (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016

3. Climate Change

  • Conference of Parties (COP-24) at Katowice
  • Marrakech Climate Change Conference
  • Paris Agreement
  • The US moved out of Paris agreement
  • Kigali Agreement
  • Kyoto Protocol (2nd Commitment)
  • IPCC Report 2018
  • International Solar Alliance
  • Concept of Green Bond
  • Green Climate Fund
  • Carbon Tax Feasibility in India
  • Concept of Green Building
  • Concept of Carbon Credit
  • Climate Change and Cities
  • Climate change and its impact on Health
  • Climate Change and Agriculture
  • Climate Change and sea level Rise
  • Ocean Warming
  • Melting of Gangotri Glacier
  • Programs and Policies Initiated for Mitigating Climate Change
  • International Collaboration for Mitigating Climate Change
  • The ethical issue involved in climate change
  • Third Pole and Climate Change
  • UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework
  • Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (Rise) 2018 – Wb
  • Accounting Methods of Climate Fund Questioned
  • Tackling Climate Change from a Security Perspective
  • Effects of Global Warming on El Nino in The 21st Century
  • India to Expand Polar Research to the Arctic
  • Bengal Tigers may not Survive Climate Change
  • Scientists Mull Stratospheric Barrier to Curb Global Warming

4. Renewable Energy

  • Biogas
  • National Solar Mission
  • Status of Hydro Power energy in India
  • Alternative fuels in India
  • Draft Energy Policy
  • National Energy Storage Mission
  • Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency
  • National Wind-solar Hybrid Policy
  • Photo-voltaic industry and CPSU scheme

5. Initiatives for Environmental Conservation

  • Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act
  • Draft National Wildlife Action Plan
  • Wetland Management Rules, 2017
  • Initiatives to enhance green cover
  • Policy on Promotion of City Compost
  • Ancient Bawadis and Water Management
  • Living status to Rivers
  • Ganga River Pollution
  • Environment Impact Assessment
  • Environmental Compliance and Enforcement in India
  • Public Participation for Environmental conservation
  • Western Ghats biodiversity conservation
  • The 25 Year Environment Plan
  • India’s National Redd+ Strategy
  • EnviStats-India 2019
  • Indian Forest Act amendment
  • Sustainable India Finance Facility (SIFF)
  • Sustainable Development in Indian Himalayan Region
  • Global Carbon Project (GCP)
  • Naturalized species
  • Resource Efficiency Cell
  • India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP), Global Cooling Coalition
  • Island protection zone (IPZ) 2019 for Andaman and Nicobar
  • Plan to save Himalayan springs

6. Environmental Institutions

  • Pollution Control Board: Analysis
  • National Green Tribunal: Analysis
  • Forest Survey of India and India State of Forest Report, 2017
  • Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee
  • Traditional Knowledge Digital Library

7. Miscellaneous Issues

  • Impacts of Dam and fishing
  • Issue of Land Degradation
  • Sand Mining
  • Algal bloom Issue
  • Melting of Antarctica and its impact
  • River linking project and its impact
  • Bottom Trawling to Deep Sea fishing
  • Mass Coral Bleaching – Threats to coral reefs
  • Forest Fires

Environment and Ecology books for UPSC

  1. NCERT Class XII Biology – Last 4 Chapters (Must)
  2. Shankar IAS Book on Environment – Not to be read front to back, too much information overload, try to read the basic concepts and fundamentals of Environment.
  3. International and National Issues

Also, read

Reference: UPSC website for Syllabus & GS SCORE


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akash bhati

thanks for information