Environmental protection is the practice by which you can protect the natural habitat from organizations, individuals, or by the governments. You can conserve, reverse the current trends and repair the damages done to the existing natural resources and the environment in this process. Due to the high pressure of growth in population, overconsumption, and technology, the biophysical environment is sometimes permanently degraded. Many organizations are already putting restrictions on the activities that are responsible for the degradation of the environment.
In other words, environmental protection can be described as the prevention and protection of unwanted changes to the constituent parts of the ecosystem due to human activities. Measures are taken in favor of environmental protection to stop over-exploitation of natural resources. Putting a quota on the fish catching or limit in the level of air pollution are some of the environmental protection policies taken to put a restraint on the degradation.
The measures taken to protect the environment are mainly associated with the prevention of reserves like national parks and conservation of natural resource management. The main element of environmental protection is that it is based on the values that humans imply to the various facets of the environment. Measures like prevention of burning in the reserves systematically, reducing the risk of wildfires or erosion in the coastal region are included in environmental protection.
Different type of Approaches to Environmental Protection
There are different approaches to environmental protection implied by the governments of numerous countries. So let us take a look at them.
Voluntary Environmental Agreements
In the countries where industrial growth is huge, voluntary environmental agreements offer a stage for moving beyond the regulatory principles and thus supporting the growth of the best environmental protection. In India, EIT (Environmental Improvement Trust) has been working for the protection of forest and environment since the year 1998. In Latin America, these Voluntary Agreements are used to prepare significant non-compliance levels with compulsory regulation. Establishment of baseline data, targeting, monitoring, and reporting are the main challenges in these agreements. These agreements also assist in building environmental management capacities.
International Agreements on Environment
Many governments of multiple countries sign agreements to manage or to prevent the impact of activities of human beings on the natural resources. This may include agreements that can have an impact on several factors like rivers, oceans, and climate. The International agreements on the environment have legal effects, if not followed by a country according to the code of conduct. Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol are some of the most famous International Environmental Agreement.
According to these agreements, the environment can be protected in the following way:
- By making changes in the characteristics of services and goods
- Changing the techniques of production
- Disposal or treatment of wastes in separate facilities for environmental protection
- Through recycling
- By changing our pattern of consumption
- Preventing the degradation of the ecosystem and landscape
What is EPA and its Role in the Environmental Protection?
EPA or Environmental Protection Agency is an agency by the USA government to protect the health of the environment and human beings. It creates laws and standards responsible for promoting the environment and individual health. The agency was formed in 1970 due to the widespread concerns of the public on environmental matters. The sole aim of EPA is to conserve and protect the natural resources and improving the health of humans by limiting the use of the pollutants.
The agency has implied the regulations for power plant carbon emission and the role of automobiles in climate change. Violation in the regulation will result in charges that have to be paid through the collection of sanctions, fines and several other procedures.
The role of EPA in the protection of the environment is:
- EPA regulates the processing, manufacturing, distribution of chemicals and other pollutants
- It supports programs to endorse power efficiency, water, and air quality, and environmental stewardship
- It also offers sustainable growth of the environment and further prevention of pollution
- The Energy Star Program, WaterSense, the Smart Growth Program and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System are some of the initiatives of EPA
- EPA also controls and prevents the spilling of oils and air pollution levels.
- Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Education Act, Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act are some of the laws enforced by the agency
- EPA also looks after the prevention and detection of crimes in the environment, setting rules for the usage of toxic chemicals, and monitoring of pollution level
Importance of Environmental Protection:
A lot of degradation in the environment is irreversible and cannot be fixed for hundreds of years. If the environment is not properly protected, we will start losing animals to extinction, poisoning vital natural resources like water and air, and destroying the natural habitat of many organisms. Making people aware of the impact of environmental issues and how to protect them by changing the behavior and attitude towards life are the main keys to the protection of the environment.
Common Reasons for Environmental Protection:
Now in this segment, we are going to take a close look at some of the reasons that have lead to the protection of the environment. They are:
- Air Emissions is any type of Greenhouse gas that is emitted into the atmosphere due to commercial and industrial activity
- Brownfields site is a piece of land that has been left unused for many years and poses a threat of potential contamination
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) is a type of inert chemical used in refrigerators that rise to the upper level of the atmosphere without breaking down, thus destroying the ozone layer
- Drastic climate change due to increased industrial emissions of greenhouse gases or reduction of the carbon sinks in the ocean
- Any commercial waste created as a result of industrial or commercial production
- Excess removal of silt and mud from the bed of the river can cause floods. This process is called dredging
- The land wearing away with time called eroding
- Use of different hazardous materials like chemical pollutants that may be corrosive, flammable or toxic
- Smog which is a direct result of industrial process emission
Steps Taken by Different Countries for Environmental Protection
The responsibility of environmental protection is mainly on the people, legislation, government, and law enforcement. Gradually decision making processes for environmental protection is evolving and becoming more collaborative in many countries. Many constitutions acknowledge the fundamentals of environmental protection and the right to live in healthy surroundings. Also, many agencies and organizations like the United Nations Environment Programme are involved in the process of protection of the environment. The steps taken by different countries to protect the natural resources of the environment are:
In Tanzania, almost 40% of the land is converted into protected areas including several national parks. This has made Tanzania as one of the greatest bio diversified states among the African countries. The act for environmental protection here has started since the occupation of East Africa by the Germans. Laws for colonial conservation, protection of the forests, and restriction upon activities like collection of firewood, hunting, and cattle grazing are some of the steps taken by the Tanzanian government to manage various issues of the environment at the national level.
NEMC (National Environment Management Council) and the Division of Biosphere is the main unit of the government that handles the matters of protection and advice the international communities on the issues related to the environment. The National Environment Policy of Tanzania acts as a skeleton for all the decisions taken related to the environmental impact assessment, strategic assessment, and taxation to be implied due to pollution in the production of specific products and industries.
The objectives of the National Environment Policy of Tanzania are as follows:
- To ensure equitable and sustainable use of resources without risking or degrading health and safety of the environment
- Usage of eco-friendly resources
- Prevention and control of degradation of water, air, vegetation, and land
- Promoting cooperation internationally
- Enhancement of the man-made heritages like a biologically diversified ecosystem
- Promotion of community and individual participation in the environmental protection
- Improvement in the condition and productivity of the degraded lands
- Raising proper awareness between the relation of development and environment
Severe Environmental pollution and ecological deterioration have resulted in economic losses in China. In 2002, China has suffered an economic loss of 10.3 % due to air and water pollution. The following initiatives were taken by the government of China to protect and combat the degradation of the environment. They are:
- China has invested $15.6 billion in renewable energy
- China has been successful in protecting 2538 nature reserves in 2010 and occupies 15.5% of the total countries land
- In 2008, the government has spent 1.49% GDP
- In 2008, the level of sulfur and carbon dioxide has decreased by 8.95% and 6.61% respectively
The Environmental Protection Agency in Ireland performs the following functions in environmental protection with their main focus on:
- Environmental licensing
- Protection from radiological emissions
- Environmental law enforcement
- Proper management of wastes
- Planning, education, and guidance on environment
- Strategic assessment on the environment
- Analyzing, monitoring and reports on the environment
- Regulation of emissions of greenhouse gases
- Research development on the environment
Brazil is the home of biological diversity and contains 48.1% of the Amazon rainforest. The Brazilian Ministry of the Environment looks after all the issues related to the protection of the environment and is mainly responsible for:
- The national policy on water and environmental resources
- Territorial zoning based on the economic and ecological significance
- A policy for conservation, preservation, and sustainable utilization of forests and ecosystems
- Environmental programs and policies for legal Amazon
- Suggesting mechanisms, strategies, social and economic instruments for the improvement of the quality of the environment and sustainable usage of natural resources
Mexico is the first ranking country in reptile biodiversity, second in mammals and is the home of over 200000 species. Currently, 174 protected areas are covering 25, 384, 818 hectares of Mexico. The percentage has increased from 8.6% to 12.85%. The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources is mainly responsible for:
- Promotion of restoration, protection, and conservation of environmental services, natural resources and goods, and facilitating their sustainable development and usage
- Regulating the waterways conservation
- Development and implementation of national policy on the resources
- Studies and participation in the international conventions on climatological, national meteorological, and geohydrological and hydrological systems
- Encouragement of environmental protection within the masses along with the cooperation of the government
- Implementing national policies to decrease climate change and protect the ozone layer
- Prevents all types of ecological damages
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is the main environmental protection legislation for Australia. It holds responsibilities for the conservation of fauna, flora, and many endangered species. Kakadu National Park, Australian Alps National Parks, and Reserves and Christmas Island National Park that comes under the jurisdiction of this act. The main 8 areas covered by this act in Australia are:
- National Heritage sites
- Marine areas of the commonwealth
- World heritage sites
- Migratory species
- RAMSAR wetlands
- Marine Park in the Great Barrier Reef
- Nationally endangered species and ecological communities
- Nuclear activities
Apart from the above Act, every state in Australia has its environmental protection agencies and legislation. Regulation of industrial and commercial activities, use of water and land, management of waste, conservation of national land, wilderness, marine parks and forests, protection from water, air, sound and water pollution falls under the local legislation acts. Australia is the number one country in the exportation of coal and the extinction of species. Thus it is the responsibility of Australia to set an example of environmental protection to the rest of the world.
The main source of pollution in Switzerland is mainly due to alteration by tourists and emissions by vehicles. All the measures taken by the Switzerland government in favor of environmental protection is against global warming.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has been continuously working for the benefit of human health and the environment. EPA takes care of the following responsibilities in the USA. Let’s have a quick look at them.
- Taking necessary steps on climate change
- Building strong partnerships between the tribal community and the state
- Improving the air quality
- An assurance on the chemical safety
- Charges for environmental justice against the crimes
- Protection of the waters of the USA
- Cleaning up of the communities
Several factors are described above in support of environmental protection to create better surroundings for both human beings and other species. Global warming is rising due to the increase in pollution level in the environment which in turn is getting warmer. Due to global warming, ice is melting in the Arctic and Antarctic circles, thus causing floods across the globe. Therefore proper conservation and preservation of wildlife, forests and natural resources have become almost compulsory to maintain a sustainable life in the future. There is one way to do this and that is through environmental protection!