In this article, You will know everything about National Parks in India for UPSC (Environment).
Important National Parks in India act as an apt place for preserving animals by providing natural habitat and prey. Anthropogenic activities like developmental activities, industrial activities, forestry, poaching, hunting, and cultivation are not permitted. The boundaries of National Parks are well defined and no private activities are allowed inside the National Park.
National Parks in India
A national park has more restrictions as compared to a wildlife sanctuary. Their boundaries are fixed and defined.
Here, no human activity is allowed. They cannot be downgraded to the status of a ‘sanctuary’. National parks can be declared both by the Central Government and State governments.
By 1970, India only had five national parks. In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard the habitats of conservation-reliant species.
As of May 2020, there were 105 national parks encompassing an area of 40,501.13 km2 (15,637.57 sq mi), under-protected areas of India category II comprising 1.23% of India’s total surface area.
The Chief Wildlife Warden shall be the authority who shall control, manage, and maintain all protected areas.
Declaration of the Protected Area by the State government:
- Initial notification: The State government may, by notification, declare its intention to constitute any area within or outside any reserve forest as a sanctuary/national park if it considers that such area is of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, natural, or zoological significance, for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wildlife or its environment.
- Final notification: After the initial notification has been issued and the period for preferring claims has elapsed, the State government may issue a notification specifying the limits of the area which can be comprised within the sanctuary and declare the said area shall be a sanctuary/national park from such date as may be specified in the notification.
Declared by the Central government:
- The Central Government may declare an area to be a sanctuary/national park if it is satisfied that the area is of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, natural, or zoological significance, for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wildlife or its environment.
In simplest terms, protected areas are regions or zones of land or sea which are given certain levels of protection for conservation of biodiversity and socio-environmental values. In these areas, human intervention and exploitation of resources are limited.
Protected Areas are the principal mechanism of conservation of biodiversity on Earth and serve as the most important units for in-situ biodiversity conservation.
Protected Areas of India(As on December, 2019)
|No.||Total Area (km2)||Coverage % of Country|
|National Parks (NPs)||105||40,564.03||1.23|
|Wildlife Sanctuaries (WLSs)||553||119,756.97||3.64|
|Conservation Reserves (CRs)||86||3,858.25||0.12|
|Protected Areas (PAs)||907||1,65,012.59||5.02|
As of December 2019, there are 907 notified protected areas covering 5.02% of India’s land area. This is far below Target 11 of the Aichi Targets – which states that by 2020, at least 17% of terrestrial and inland water areas should be conserved under Protected Areas.
There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection. Examples include national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, marine protected areas, community reserves, etc.
In terms of protection, National Parks > Wildlife Sanctuary > Reserved forests > Protected forests
Different IUCN categories of Protected areas
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), through its World Commission on Protected Areas, has put forward six Protected Area Management Categories. The categories are as follows:
- Category I a– Strict Nature Reserve: Protected areas managed mainly for science and receives the least human intervention. E.g. Urwald Rothwald in Austria
- Category I b – Wilderness Area: Wilderness protection. E.g. wilderness areas in the Sami native region in Finland
- Category II – National Park: ecosystem protection and recreation
- Category III – Natural Monument or Feature: Conservation of specific natural features. E.g. cliffs, caves, forest groves. E.g. Cono de Arita in Argentina.
- Category IV – Habitat/Species Management Area: Conservation of specific species that require protection.
- Category V – Protected Landscape/Seascape: Conservation of entire area. It permits the surrounding community to interact. Example: Great Barrier Reef in Australia
- Category VI – Protected Area with sustainable use of natural resources: Conservation of ecosystem and habitats together with associated cultural values and traditional natural resource management systems.
- Forests and wildlife are included in the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution. Therefore, the Union government makes the policies and plans for Wildlife Conservation. On the other hand, the State Forest Departments are the ones implanting those national policies and plans at the state level.
- National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) puts forward a policy framework for wildlife conservation in India. The Board was constituted under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. It is chaired by the Prime Minister.
- National Board for Wildlife:
- It is a “Statutory Organization” constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
- Its role is “advisory” in nature and advises the Central Government on framing policies and measures for the conservation of wildlife in the country.
- The primary function of the Board is to promote the conservation and development of wildlife and forests.
- It has the power to review all wildlife-related matters and approve projects in and around national parks and sanctuaries.
- No alternation of boundaries in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries can be done without the approval of the NBWL.
- Composition: The NBWL is chaired by the Prime Minister. It has 47 members including the Prime Minister. Among these, 19 members are ex-officio members. Other members include three Members of Parliament (two from Lok Sabha and one from Rajya Sabha), five NGOs, and 10 eminent ecologists, conservationists, and environmentalists.
- National Board for Wildlife may make recommendations on the setting up of and management of national parks, sanctuaries, and other protected areas and on matters relating to restriction of activities in those areas.
- The State Board for Wildlife shall advise the State government on the selection and management of areas to be declared as protected areas.
- National Board for Wildlife:
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (with Amendment Acts of 2003 and 2006)
- It provides for the protection of plants and animals in India. The aim of the Act is to ensure the ecological and environmental security of India.
- It is the principal act that contains provisions for setting up and managing national parks, sanctuaries, and other protected areas.
In India, there are four major categories of Protected areas. These protected areas are constituted under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
The four categories of protected areas are:
- Wildlife Sanctuaries
- National Parks
- Community Reserves
- Conservation Reserves
Apart from these protected areas, India also has the following:
- Biodiversity Reserves
- Tiger Reserves
- Elephant Reserves
- BR: Biosphere Reserve
- NP: National Park
- TR: Tiger Reserve
- WS: Wildlife Sanctuary
- BS: Bird Sanctuary
- PF: Protected Forest
- RF: Reserve Forest
- ER: Elephant Reserve
- RS: Ramsar Site
List of National Parks of India
A complete list of National Parks in India: State-wise
Top ten Largest National Parks in India
|RANK||NAME||ESTABLISHED||AREA IN SQ KM||STATE||FAMOUS FOR|
|1||Hemis National Park||1981||4400||Ladhak||Snow Leopards|
|2||Desert National Park||1981||3162||Rajasthan||Great Indian Bustard|
|3||Simlipal National Park||1980||2750||Odisha||Royal Bengal Tiger and Asian elephant|
|4||Gangotri National Park||1989||2390||Uttarakhand||Gaumukh Glacier|
|5||Namdapha National Park||1974||1985.23||Arunachal Pradesh||Flora and Fauna|
|6||Khangchendzonga National Park||1977||1784||Sikkim||UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|7||Guru Ghasidas (Sanjay) National Park||1981||1440.71||Chhattisgarh||Tiger|
|8||Gir Forest National Park||1965||1412||Gujarat||Asiatic lion|
|9||Sundarbans National Park||1984||1330.12||West Bengal||UNESCO World Heritage Site, Royal Bengal Tiger|
|10||Jim Corbett National Park||1936||1318.5||Uttarakhand||First national park of India|
Nandankanan Zoological Park
- Nandankanan, literally meaning The Garden of Heaven, is located near Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
- Unlike other zoos in the country, Nandankanan is built right inside the forest and set in a completely natural environment.
- Nandankanan is among the six participating zoos for the conservation breeding of White-backed vulture.
Few Unique Features of the Nandankanan Zoological Park
- First zoo in the World to breed the White tiger and Melanistic tiger.
- White Tiger is a rare form of Bengal Tiger with a unique (recessive) gene which gives it a white color. A white tiger is not a sub-species of the tiger. White tigers are born only when two Bengal tigers that possess a recessive gene (gene that affects the coat color) are bred together.
- Melanistic Tigers are black striped tigers which are born purely due to genetic reasons. Increased development of melanin pigment in the body causes black stripes. Melanistic tigers are rarely found in the world.
- Only conservation breeding centre of Indian Pangolin in the world.
- Only zoological park in India to become an institutional member of World Association of Zoos and Aquarium (WAZA).
- Gharials have bred for the first time in captivity in the world at Nandankanan Zoological Park in 1980.
- The first zoo in India where endangered Ratel was born in captivity.
- The second largest heronry for Open Billed Storks in Odisha.