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Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. Evaluate the causes and impacts of changes in critical geographical features such as glaciers, coral reefs, wetlands and forests. How can we conserve and restore them? (250 words)

    06 Mar, 2023 GS Paper 1 Geography


    • Start your answer by briefly explaining the importance of critical geographical features.
    • Discuss causes and impacts of changes in geographical features, and further suggest Conservation and Restoration Strategies to protect these critical ecosystems.
    • Conclude accordingly.


    • Critical geographical features such as glaciers, coral reefs, wetlands, and forests are vital components of the earth's ecosystem. Over the past few decades, these features have undergone significant changes due to various natural and human-induced factors.
    • These changes have had profound impacts on the environment, biodiversity, and human societies. Therefore, understanding the causes and impacts of these changes is crucial in developing effective conservation and restoration strategies.


    • Causes and Impacts of Changes in Critical Geographical Features:
      • Glaciers: Glaciers are among the most vulnerable natural features to climate change.
        • The primary cause of glacier retreat is rising temperatures due to global warming. As glaciers melt, they contribute to rising sea levels, which can have catastrophic effects on coastal communities.
        • Furthermore, the loss of glaciers reduces the availability of freshwater, affecting agriculture, hydroelectric power, and other sectors that depend on it.
      • Coral Reefs: Coral reefs are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, but they are also the most threatened.
        • Human activities such as overfishing, pollution, and climate change have caused significant damage to coral reefs. Rising sea temperatures due to climate change cause coral bleaching, which leads to the death of coral reefs.
        • Coral reef destruction has severe consequences for marine life and the millions of people who depend on reefs for their livelihoods.
      • Wetlands: Wetlands are essential for maintaining water quality, flood control, and biodiversity.
        • However, they have undergone significant degradation due to human activities such as land-use change, pollution, and climate change.
        • Wetland loss has severe implications for biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems, including water purification, flood control, and carbon sequestration.
      • Forests: Forests are among the most important ecosystems on earth, providing numerous benefits to humans, including timber, medicine, and carbon sequestration.
        • Deforestation is a significant threat to forests, caused by human activities such as agricultural expansion, logging, and mining.
        • Further, it has severe implications for climate change, biodiversity loss, and ecosystem functioning.
    • Conservation and Restoration Strategies:
      • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change: This means cutting down the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere and cause global warming.
        • Some ways to do this are using public transportation, biking or walking instead of driving; switching to energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs; planting trees and shrubs that absorb carbon; and supporting policies that limit fossil fuel use.
      • Using renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels: This means using natural resources that can be replenished or regenerated, such as solar, wind, hydro or biomass power.
        • These sources do not produce harmful emissions or waste, and can reduce dependence on imported oil or gas.
      • Practicing water conservation and recycling: This means using water wisely and efficiently, and reusing it whenever possible.
        • Some ways to do this are installing low-flow faucets and showerheads; collecting rainwater for irrigation; repairing leaks and drips; and avoiding bottled water.
      • Avoiding overexploitation of natural resources such as fish, timber and minerals: This means harvesting or extracting these resources at a rate that does not exceed their natural regeneration or replenishment.
        • Some ways to do this are following sustainable fishing practices and quotas; recycling metals, plastics and paper; and reducing consumption of non-essential goods.
      • Supporting sustainable agriculture and forestry practices: This means growing crops and raising animals in ways that do not harm the environment or human health.
        • Some ways to do this are using organic fertilizers and pesticides; rotating crops and diversifying production systems; practicing agroforestry (integrating trees with crops or livestock); conserving soil fertility and preventing erosion; protecting pollinators (such as bees) and beneficial insects.
      • Creating protected areas and corridors for wildlife: This means setting aside land or water areas where human activities are restricted or regulated to preserve biodiversity (the variety of life forms).
        • These areas can provide habitat for endangered species, prevent poaching (illegal hunting), maintain ecological processes (such as nutrient cycling), offer recreational opportunities (such as ecotourism), enhance cultural values (such as sacred sites), etc. Corridors are strips of land that connect isolated protected areas, allowing wildlife to move freely between them.


    The critical geographical features of the Earth are under threat from various natural and human-induced factors. The impacts of these changes are severe and far-reaching, affecting biodiversity, ecosystems, and human societies. To address these challenges, we need to adopt conservation and restoration strategies and by implementing these strategies, we can ensure the sustainable use of our natural resources and protect the vital ecological services they provide. We must act now to safeguard the critical geographical features of our planet and secure a healthy and prosperous future for all.

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