CHALLENGES IN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT
INTRODUCTION: During the last few decades, there has been an increasing consciousness and concern that the environment in which we live has deteriorated very fast. The air we breathe and the water we drink is getting polluted, rains are becoming erratic, forests are getting depleted, large number of plant and animal species are becoming extinct. The top soil is being eroded and even the ozone layer is getting damaged. There is also a danger of global warming. This environmental degradation threatens the very existence of human beings. The tragedy is that these problems are being created by human beings themselves. As you know, we receive all the life supporting materials from our environment but. In return, we do little for the environment. Basically, what is needed is that we should manage our environment properly. Our interference with environment should be minimal and we should ensure that it does not deteriorate and cause a challenge to our existence. We should, therefore, gather information relating to our environment so as to understand the danger it is faced with. We must assess and analyses carefully the impact of our activities on environment to adopt precautionary measures in advance. Therefore, there is a need to educate the people to develop a positive attitude towards the environment. In this unit we shall deal with challenges of environmental management. In the next unit you will study the effect of various developmental activities on environment.
INADEQUATE DATABASE AND RESEARCH ON ENVIRONMENT: Environmental studies are a new area that is of prime concern to us. YOU will be surprised to know that even at the International level attention to environment was not being given till the sixties. Very few people attached any importance to the Stockholm Conference which was held in 1972. However, some activities started in the field of environmental sciences, when Stocked Conference brought the problems of deteriorating environment to the notice of the world leaders. Earlier to this the environmental problems were generally considered to be local problems. The developed and industrialized countries have been facing tremendous environmental problems on account of their unplanned industrialization and growth in developmental activities. Consequently, they started turning their attention to environmental management much earlier: They also had enough resources to support these activities. The developing countries which on the other hand, had just started industrialization and developmental activities did not face such problem so acutely. The environmental problems of the developing countries were generally related to ' underdevelopment, poverty and lack of resources. For them, demands such as drinking water, food, shelter, clothing and health were much more important, and for this reason they could not pay proper attention towards environmental management. Also, the subject of environment being new, very little was known about its relationship to other sciences such as climatology, sociology, geography, economics, health and hygiene. Only recently, people have started realizing that management of the environment is not possible unless we have information on other areas related to environment.
Database on Communities: India is a large country with different types of climate in different areas. The soil typ4, water availability, altitude, latitude and longitude vary from area to area. These diff4rences are responsible for formation of different biological communities in. Different areas. A biotic (living) community includes the entire population of a given area. Here population means groups of individuals belonging to one species. In a given area there may be populations of different species ‘of plants and animals. All these populations together form the ‘Biotic Community’ of the area. Therefore, the biotic community of a large area contains large number of plants and animals of different species. The number of individuals and the types of species will depend on the ecological conditions of the area. For example, where conditions are favorable for growth, not only a large number of individuals are found but a large number of species may also be found. Management of environment has direct bearing on the biotic communities of the area. The type of communities, a particular area can support will depend on the environment of the area. Also, the living organisms or the biotic community present in an environment will affect the environment. If the composition of these communities is altered drastically, it may lead to a change in the environment itself and the ecosystem at large. You may have studied about the fertile areas turning into deserts, or lakes and ponds becoming swamps and finally getting filled up. A case in point is the extinction of a number of water bodies due to unwanted growth of water hyacinth; hence, for the proper management of environment, it is essential to have a thorough knowledge about communities present in the environment.
Data on Geomorphology and Climate: Data on other topics related to environment such as geomorphology, climate, limnology, ground water, etc. are also not sufficient. One important reason is that India does not have sufficient resources to generate this data. As far as manpower is concerned, we have more than enough and, in fact, our trained persons working in other countries are doing similar work there. But in India, we do not have sufficient funds to provide the supporting infrastructure. The data available in these areas have been gemmated, keeping mainly agriculture in mind or occasionally, industries. The ' general environment has not beep even adequate weightage so far. For example, topographical maps, geological maps etc. have been prepared for large areas in the country. Similarly, weather data and climatic data are collected regularly for the purpose of forecasting rains, cyclones, storms, snowfall, etc.