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Difference between Wildlife Sanctuary, Biosphere Reserves and National Park

Wildlife Sanctuary:

National Park:

No cutting, Grazing allowed, Outside Species Allowed.

Biosphere Reserve: 3 areas, Core, Buffer & Marginal, No outside Species allowed, Conservation & research purpose both.

And the difference between a Sanctuary and a National Park mainly lies in the vesting of rights of people living inside. Unlike a Sanctuary, where certain rights can be allowed, in a National Park, no rights are allowed. No grazing of any livestock shall also be permitted inside a National Park while in a Sanctuary; the Chief Wildlife Warden may regulate, control or prohibit it.

Differences between biosphere reserve and national park:

Biosphere reserveNational park
It is ecosystem-oriented, hitched to the whole ecosystem and includes all life forms.It is the habitat for a particular wild animal species.
The average size ranges over 5670 sq km.The average size ranges from 0.04 to 3162 sq km.
It is not permissible for tourism.It is permissible for tourism.
Research and scientific management present.Research and scientific management are absent.
Proper attention is given to gene pools and their conservation.So far no attention is given to gene pools and their conservation.


Air Prevention and Control of Pollution Act (1981):

It is a comprehensive legislation with more than fifty sections. It makes provisions, interalia, for Central and State Boards, power to declare pollution control areas, restrictions on certain industrial units, authority of the Boards to limit emission of air pollutants, power of entry, inspection, taking samples and analysis, penalties, offences by companies and Government and cognizance of offences etc.. The Act specifically empowers State Government to designate air pollution areas and to prescribe the type of fuel to be used in these designated areas. According to this Act, no person can operate certain types of industries including the asbestos, cement, fertilizer and petroleum industries without consent of the State Board.

The main objectives of the Act are as follows:

  • To provide for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.
  • To provide for the establishment of central and State Boards with a view to implement the Act.
  • To confer on the Boards the powers to implement the provisions of the Act and assign to the Boards functions relating to pollution.

Indian Forest Act, 1927:

The Act basically does two things:

  1. Grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities, partially correcting the injustice caused by the forest laws, and 
  2. Makes a beginning towards giving communities and the public a voice in forest and wildlife conservation.

The law recognizes three types of rights:

Land Rights: Land rights are given to people, who have been cultivating land prior to December, 13, 2005.

Use Rights: The law provides for rights to use and/or collect the minor forest produce things like tendu patta, herbs, medicinal plants etc “that has been traditionally collected, use of grazing grounds and water bodies and use of traditional areas by nomadic or pastoralist communities i.e. communities that move with their herds, as opposed to practicing settled agriculture.

Right to Protect and Conserve: The law gives rights to protect and manage the forests to people of village communities.

The Act also categorizes forests into three categories:

Reserve forest: These forests are the most restricted forests and may be constituted by the State Government on any forest land or waste land which is the property of the Government or on which the Government has proprietary rights. In reserved forests, most uses by local people are prohibited, unless specifically allowed by a Forest Officer in the course of settlement.

Protected forest: The State Government is empowered to constitute any land other than reserved forests as protected forests over which the Government has proprietary rights. Under ‘Protected Forests’, the Government retains the power to issue rules regarding the use of such forests and retains the power to reserve the specific tree species in the protected forests. This power has been used to establish State control over trees, whose timber, fruit or other non-wood products have revenue-raising potential.

Village forest: ‘Village forests’ are the one in which the State Government may assign to ‘any village community the rights of Government to or over any land which has been constituted a reserved forest’.


The Wildlife Protection Act was passed in 1972. Before this law came into force, there were only five national parks in India. This law applies to the whole country except the state of Jammu & Kashmir which has its own act for the same purpose. The act has 6 schedules and each schedule guarantees varied degrees of protection to animals and plants. Animals include insects, reptiles, fishes, birds and mammals.

Schedule 1 & 2: Complete protection to the species and violation incurs highest penalty and punishment. This includes species like the tiger, Asiatic lion, Snow Leopard, deer, sloth bear, Tibetan fox, langurs, Macaques, Asian elephant, snakes, etc.

Schedule 3 & 4: includes protected species but the punishment awarded for any violation is lesser. E.g. Hyena, hog deer, wild pig, hares, porcupine, bats, flying fox, tortoise, Himalayan rat, etc.

Schedule 5: includes animals which may be hunted like the common crow, mice, rates, fruit bats, etc. Vermin category animals are come under this schedule. Both state and central governments are empowered to declare an animal as vermin under sec.62 of wildlife protection act    

Schedule 6: contains a list of plants that are forbidden from cultivation. E.g. Beddomes’ cycad, Blue Vanda, Pitcher plant, etc.

This Act prohibits the killing, capturing, poisoning and trapping of wild animals. This act also forbids injuring or removing body parts of the animals. The eggs of wild birds and reptiles are also protected under this act. Taxidermy is also prohibited under this act. Taxidermy is the preservation of a dead animal as a trophy. This includes making rugs, preserving skin, teeth, horns, eggs, etc. The act also has provisions under which encroachments in protected areas may be dealt with through eviction. The cases under this act are usually taken care of by the Forest Department.

An amendment to this act was enacted in 2002. This amendment made the penalties for violation even harsher.  

The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986

Spurred by declining environmental quality and the Bhopal gas disaster, the Environment (Protection) Act, (1986) was enacted to empower the Central Government to take necessary measures to preserve and improve the environment.

Passed in March 1986, it came into force on 19 November 1986. The Environment Protection Act is an important legislation that provides for coordination of activities of the various regulatory agencies, creation of authorities with adequate powers for environmental protection, regulation of the discharge of environmental pollutants, handling of hazardous substances, etc.

The Act provided an opportunity to extend legal protection to non-forest habitats (‘Ecologically Sensitive Areas’) such as grasslands, wetlands and coastal zones.


Environment” includes water, air and land and the inter- relationship which exists among and between water, air and land, and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organism and property;

“Environmental pollutant” means any solid, liquid or gaseous substance present in such concentration as may be, or tend to be, injurious to environment;

“Hazardous substance” means any substance or preparation which, by reason of its chemical or physic-chemical properties or handling, is liable to cause harm to human beings, other living creatures, plant, micro-organism, property or the environment;

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