Institutions And People In Environment

Institutions And People In Environment (For Prelims)

A. Institutions In Environment

  • There have been several Government and Non-government organizations that have led to environmental protection in our country. They have led to a growing interest in environmental protection and conservation of nature and natural resources.
  • Among the large number of institutions that deal with environmental protection and conservation, a few well-known organizations include government organisations such as the BSI and ZSI, and NGOs such as BNHS, WWF-I, etc

Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Mumbai:

  • BNHS began as a small society of six members in 1883. It grew from a group o shikaris and people from all walks of life into a major research organisation that substantially influenced conservation policy in the country.
  • The influence on wildlife policy building, research, popular publications and peoples action have been unique features of the multifaceted society. Undoubtedly its major contribution has been in the field of wildlife research.
  • It is India’s oldest conservation research based NGO and one that has acted at the forefront of the battle for species and ecosystems. The BNHS publishes a popular magazine called Hornbill and also an internationally well-known Journal on Natural History.
  • The BNHS has over the years helped Government to frame wildlife related laws and has taken up battles such as the ‘Save the Silent Valley’ campaign.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-I), New  Delhi :

  • The WWF-I was initiated in 1969 in Mumbai after which the headquarters were shifted to Delhi with several branch offices all over India. The early years focused attention on wildlife education and awareness. It runs several programs including the Nature Clubs of India program for school children and works as a think tank and lobby force for environment and development issues.

Center for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi

  • Activities of this Center include organising campaigns, holding workshops and conferences, and producing environment related publications. It published a major document on the ‘State of India’s Environment’, the first of its kind to be produced as a Citizen’s Report on the Environment. The CSE also publishes a popular magazine, ‘Down to Earth’, which is a Science and Environment fortnightly. It is involved in the publication of material in the form of books, posters, video films and also conducts workshops and seminars on biodiversity related issues.

CPR Environmental Education Centre, Madras:

  • The CPR EEC was set up in 1988. It conducts a variety of programs to spread environmental awareness and creates an interest in conservation among the general public. It focused attention on NGOs, teachers, women, youth and children to generally promote conservation of nature and natural resources.
  • Its programs include components on wildlife and biodiversity issues. CPR EEC also produces a large number of publications.

Centre for Environment Education (CEE), Ahmedabad:

  • The Centre for Environment Education, Ahmedabad was initiated in 1989. It has a wide range of programs on the environment and produces a variety of educational material. CEE’s Training in Environment Education {TEE} program has trained many environment educators.

Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University (CEPT University):

  • Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University (CEPT University) is an academic institution located in Ahmedabad, India offering undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in areas of natural and developed environment of human society and related disciplines.
  • Since inception CEPT has operated as an autonomous academic institution free to develop its academic programmes and award its own diplomas at the end of programmes of study recognized by the state of Gujarat and the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE).

Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute of Environment Education and Research (BVIEER), Pune:

  • The Institute has a PhD, a Masters and Bachelors program in Environmental Sciences This is part of the Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University.
  • Biodiversity Conservation is a major focus of its research initiatives. Its unique feature is that it conducts environment educa- tion from primary school level to the postgraduate level.

Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun

  • This Institution was established in 1982, as a major training establishment for Forest Officials and Research in Wildlife Management. Its most significant publication has been ‘Planning A Wildlife Protected Area Network for India’.
  • It has trained a large number of Forest Department Officials and Staff as Wildlife Managers. Its M.Sc. Program has trained excellent wildlife scientists. It also has an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) cell. It trains personnel in ecodevelopment, wildlife biology, habitat management and Nature interpretation.

Botanical Survey of India (BSI):

  • The Botanical Survey of India (BSI) was established in 1890 at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Calcutta. However it closed down for several years after 1939 and was reopened in 1954. In 1952 plans were made to reorganise the BSI and formulate its objectives. By 1955 the BSI had its headquarters in Calcutta.The BSI currently has nine regional centres.
  • It carries out surveys of plant resources in different regions.

Zoological Survey of India (ZSI):

  • The ZSI was established in1916. Its mandate was to do a systematic survey of fauna in India. It has over the years collected ‘type specimens’ on the bases of which our animal life has been studied over the years. Its origins were collections based at the Indian Museum at Calcutta, which was established in 1875. Older collections of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, which were made between 1814 and 1875, as well as those of the Indian Museum made between 1875 and 1916 were then transferred to the ZSI. Today it has over a million specimens! This makes it one of the largest collections in Asia.
  • It has done an enormous amount of work on taxonomy and ecology. It currently operates from 16 regional centers.

Kalpavriksh, Pune:

  • This NGO is active in several other parts of India. Kalpavriksh works on a variety of fronts: education and awareness; investigation and research; direct action and lobbying; and litigation with regard to environment and development issues. Its activities include talks and audio-visuals in schools and colleges, nature walks and outstation camps, organising student participation in ongoing campaigns including street demonstrations, pushing for consumer awareness regarding organic food, press statements, handling green alerts, and meetings with the city’s administrators.
  • It is involved with the preparation of site-specific, environmental manuals for schoolteachers. Kalpavriksh was responsible for developing India’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan in 2003.

The Energy and Resources Institute or TERI:

  • The Energy and Resources Institute, commonly known as TERI (formerly Tata Energy Research Institute), established in 1974, is a research institute based in New Delhi focusing its research activities in the fields of energy, environment and sustainable development. TERI is an independent, not-for-profit, research institute, devoted to efficient and sustainable use of natural resources.

National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI):

  • The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) is a research institute created and funded by Government of India. It was established in Nagpur in 1958 with focus on water supply, sewage disposal, communicable diseases and to some extent on industrial pollution and occupational diseases found common in post-independent India.
  • NEERI is a pioneer laboratory in the field of environmental science and engineering and part of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). NEERI has five zonal laboratories at Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. NEERI falls under the Ministry of Science and Technology (India) of central government.

B. People In Environment


  • There are several internationally known environmental thinkers. Among those who have made landmarks, are Charles Darwin, Ralph Emerson, Henry Thoreau, John Muir, Aldo Leopald, Rachel Carson and EO Wilson.
  • Charles Darwin wrote the ‘Origin of Species’, which brought to light the close relationship between habitats and species. It brought about a new thinking of man’s relationship with other species that was based on evolution. Alfred Wallace came to the same conclusions during his work.
  • Ralph Emerson spoke of the dangers of commerce to our environment way back in the 1840s.
  • Henry Thoreau in the 1860s wrote that the wilderness should be preserved after he lived in the wild for a year. He felt that most people did not care for nature and would sell it off for a small sum of money.
  • John Muir is remembered as having saved the great ancient sequoia trees in California’s forests. In the 1890s he formed the Sierra club, which is a major conservation NGO in the USA.
  • Aldo Leopald was a forest official in the US in the 1920s. He designed the early policies on wilderness conservation and wildlife management.
  • In the 1960s Rachel Carson published several articles that caused immediate worldwide concern on the effects of pesticides on nature and mankind. She wrote a well known book called ‘Silent Spring’ which eventually led to a change in Government policy and public awareness.
  • EO Wilson is an entomologist who envisioned that biological diversity was a key to human survival on earth. He wrote ‘Diversity of Life’ in 1993, which was awarded a prize for the best book published on environmental issues. His writings brought home to the world the risks to mankind due to man made disturbances in natural ecosystems that are leading to the rapid extinction of species at the global level.


  • There have been a number of individuals who have been instrumental in shaping the environmental history in our country. Some of the well known names in the last century include environmentalists, scientists, administrators, legal experts, educationists and journalists.
  • Salim Ali’s name is synonymous with ornithology in India and with the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). He also wrote several great books including the famous ‘Book of Indian Birds’. His autobiography, ‘Fall of a Sparrow’ should be read by every nature enthusiast.  He was our country’s leading conservation scientist and influenced environmental policies in our country for over 50 years.
  • Indira Gandhi as PM has played a highly significant role in the preservation of India’s wildlife. It was during her period as PM, that the network of PAs grew from 65 to 298! The Wildlife Protection Act 1972 was formulated during the period when she was PM and the Indian Board for Wildlife was extremely active as she personally chaired all its meetings. India gained a name for itself by being a major player in CITES and other International Environmental Treaties and Accords during her tenure. BNHS frequently used her good will to get conservation action initiated by the Government.
  • S P Godrej was one of India’s greatest supporters of wildlife conservation and nature awareness programs. Between 1975 and 1999, SP Godrej received 10 awards for his conservation activities. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1999. His friendship with people in power combined with his deep commitment for conservation led to his playing a major advocacy role for wildlife in India.
  • M S Swaminathan is one of India’s foremost agricultural scientists and has also been concerned with various aspects of biodiversity conservation both of cultivars and wild biodiversity. He has founded the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai, which does work on the conservation of biological diversity.
  • Madhav Gadgil is a well known ecologist in India. His interests range from broad ecological issues such as developing Community Biodiversity Registers and conserving sacred groves to studies on the behaviour of mammals, birds and insects.
  • M C Mehta is undoubtedly India’s most famous environmental lawyer. Since 1984, he has filed several Public Interest Litigations for supporting the cause of environmental conservation. His most famous and long drawn battles supported by the Supreme Court include protecting the Taj Mahal, cleaning up the Ganges River, banning intensive shrimp farming on the coast, initiating Government to implement environmental education in schools and colleges, and a variety of other conservation issues.
  • Anil Agarwal was a journalist who wrote the first report on the ‘State of India’s Environment’ in 1982. He founded the Center for Science and Environment which is an active NGO that supports various environmental issues.
  • Medha Patkar is known as one of India’s champions who has supported the cause of downtrodden tribal people whose environment is being affected by the dams on the Narmada river. (Narmada Bachao Andolan)
  • Sunderlal Bahugna’s Chipko Movement has become an internationally well- known example of a highly successful conservation action program through the efforts of local people for guarding their forest resources.His fight to prevent the construction of the Tehri Dam in a fragile earthquake prone setting is a battle that he continues to wage. The Garhwal Hills will always remember his dedication to the cause for which he has walked over 20 thousand kilometers.
  • Rajendra Kumar Pachauri was the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He held the post from 2002 until his resignation in 2015, during which time the organisation was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He has also been the director general of TERI, a research and policy organisation in India, and chancellor of TERI University.

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