Strategy to Prepare Environment & Ecology for UPSC Prelims

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Environment and Ecology for UPSC contribute highly to the Prelims exam. UPSC posted the changes in 2011 by merging the preliminary exam of UPSC IAS Prelims and UPSC IFS (Forest Services) has increased the weightage of this section considerably in the IAS Prelims Exam. With this trend, Clearing Prelims becomes very difficult if the Environment and Ecology section for UPSC is not done in a comprehensive manner. 

But the question is how to prepare the environment & ecology for UPSC Prelims? In this article, we will discuss the best way to approach the Environment and Ecology for UPSC.

How to Prepare Environment & Ecology for UPSC Prelims

Before discussing the preparation tips for Environment and Ecology for UPSC, first candidates need to know about the number of questions they will face from this section. As per UPSC Previous Year Question Paper, the number of questions asked from this section has always been more than 10% in the past 9 years in Prelims. Below is the table showing the total number of questions asked in past years. Total Number of Questions asked from Environment and Ecology UPSC Prelims:



Number of Questions Asked




























For the Mains Exam, Environment, Ecology, and Biodiversity also constitute a good chunk in General Studies Paper-3 and is helpful in other papers of the IAS Mains exam also.

As per the UPSC IAS Syllabus, Preliminary Exam requires one to have knowledge of General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity, and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization.

Common Issues faced by Aspirants while Preparing Environment and Ecology for UPSC

Here are some common problems the candidates face while preparing Environment & Ecology for UPSC Prelims

Devoting less time

Usually, students devote a lot of time to subjects like polity, geography, and history but not enough to the environment and ecology portion. Since questions from the core subjects like geography, Polity and history are asked in a similar quantity as that of Environment so it is required that equal attention is given to the dynamic subjects like Environment and Ecology.

What to Read

One major problem with this subject is that there is doubt in the mind of aspirants about sources from which to read. They either do not know which Environment book for UPSC to read or they read too many books and online articles to get a feeling that they have covered the topic in totality.

In a subject like Environment and Ecology, one cannot read each and every topic because the content is very wide as well as there is no rigid boundary line between the content, and the subject is dynamic so one has to limit the content they are reading in order to utilize them qualitatively. Choosing the right UPSC Books for this section is a challenge.

Difficulty in Understanding

One major problem with these subjects is the difficulty in understanding the concept in the first reading. So the aspirants get bored and disinterested while reading these subjects. So the basic thing required while preparing this subject is patience. If a student reads the same material 2-3 times, they will find it interesting and easy. But one should revise them at least 5 times, so as to recall the studied content in the exam.

Covering Current Affairs

The environment is a very dynamic subject and so requires an equally dynamic approach. Questions are asked about the happenings related to Environment, Ecology, and Biodiversity in the past year or so. Aspirants need to be aware of those happenings in complete detail. Questions on International Organisation, Conventions, etc are more common in UPSC Prelims Paper and these are asked from Current affairs itself so Reading and revising it is very necessary.

Environment & Ecology Books for UPSC and Additional Study Materials

For Environment and Ecology UPSC, students should select one book which covers all the core concepts and basic information in detail, and apart from this, all other dynamic portion needs to be covered from Newspaper, etc.

  • For the static part, refer to the NCERT textbooks of Geography (classes VI to XII), biology (classes XI and XII) (Download NCERT Books), or can also Refer to Shankar IAS Environment Book (Latest Edition).
  • India Year Book: Environment and Geography Chapters
  • The Hindu and Down to Earth newspaper
  • Science Reporter magazine

Students should select one basic Environment book for UPSC& stick to that book. One should read it at least 3 times, even if one gets bored while reading that.

Environment and Ecology- Important Topics

Though all topics are important, some topics are more relevant than others as per the trend of the UPSC previous year’s question paper. We are presenting a list of the topics which are more important than the rest:

International Environmental Conventions:

    • Rio summit and its outcomes, Ramsar Convention on wetlands, CITES, Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), IUCN, Stockholm, Rotterdam, and Basel convention, UN convention to combat Desertification, Vienna Convention, and Montreal Protocol. Apart from these other conventions under the aegis of the United Nations are important.

Environmental Organisations:

    • National Biodiversity Authority, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Animal Welfare Board, central zoo Authority.

Acts and policies regarding the Environment:

    • Wildlife protection act, Environment protection act, Biological Diversity act, Forest Right Act
    • Forest policy, wetland rule, NGT, ozone-depleting substance rule.


    • CAMPA, Clean energy fund, wildlife action plan, National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board, Mangrove for future. and other such relevant institutions which have in news.

Climate Change:

    • Climate change organizations: UNFCCC, Kyoto protocol, REDD/REDD+, IPCC, Green Economy
    • Impact of climate change: impact on India, India’s position on Climate change, NICRA, Green Buildings, NAPCC, Nation Communication.
    • Ozone depletion
    • Mitigation strategies: Carbon Sequestration, Carbon sink, Carbon credit, Carbon offsetting, Carbon tax.
    • Ocean acidification.


    • Biodiversity types, services, level, and measurement.
    • Protected area network: Wildlife sanctuaries, National Parks, Sacred Grooves, Biosphere Reserves, Biodiversity hotspots.
    • conservation efforts: Project Tiger, Project Elephant, Project Hangul, Ganges Dolphin, Crocodile conservation
    • Schedule a list of wildlife protection.


    • Function of Ecosystem, energy flow, food web, the food chain.
    • Concept like Ecotone, and ecological succession.
    • Aquatic ecosystem: Lake ecology, Eutrophication, Mangrove system, Coral reefs.
    • Environmental pollution: E-waste, Air pollution, Fly Ash, Smog, Bioremediation, Indoor air pollution.

The above-mentioned topics should be revised thoroughly before the exam.

Also Check:

Environment and Ecology- General Tips for Better Preparation

  • Analyzing the Past Year Paper on the type of questions asked on Environment provides you with an idea about the nature of questions expected from UPSC.
  • Revision of what you have studied on a regular basis is very crucial because of the vastness of information which at times becomes confusing if not revised well.
  • Practice Questions from Test Series helps you in avoiding silly mistakes and also for quick revision.
  • Glancing over the official websites like of Ministry of Environment, UNFCCC, UNEP, etc are very helpful.
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