NIOS A-Level EVS Chapter 5 - Conservation of Environment

Air, water, clouds, soil, birds, trees, flowers, animals, vehicles, buildings, etc., together make our environment.

What is Conservation of Environment?

The preservation of both the physical and biological environment is necessary to assure the continuity of life, which can be defined as conservation of the environment. Since the time of our ancestors, we humans have been dependent on animals and plants for food, clothing and shelter.

Along with the biological environment, we also require air, water, the Sun, and other physical environments essential for us. Life is impossible without them. Therefore, it is necessary to protect and conserve the environment and bring about a balance between living beings and natural things.

Let us learn about how plants and animals are helpful to humans, along with different measures to be taken to conserve our environment.

Animals – Useful Animals and their care

It has been an old practice to domesticate animals. Animals were equated with a person’s wealth and those who had more animals were considered rich in society.

Even today, animals like bullocks and buffalos are used to plough fields, and other animals like donkeys, horses, elephants, and camels are used to carry loads and for travel. Other animals are used for their flesh, leather, bones, hair, teeth, etc. Almost every animal around us has some benefit to human beings.

The below table provides the list of animals with their uses.

Animals

Uses

Cow, Buffaloes, Goat, Camel and Yak

They are used for their milk, cheese, ghee and other dairy products.

Cow’s dung and urine make pesticides, fungicides, insecticides and biogas. Dried cow dung has the best use in fuel and the urine of cow is also used as medicine in Ayurveda.

The leather of these animals is used for making many articles like shoes, bags etc. Some are used for carrying luggage.

Hens, Duck, Goose and Turkey

They are used for their eggs and meat.

Goat, Sheep, Hen and Pigs

They are used for their flesh and skin leather.

Sheep and Yak

They are used for their milk, wool, meat, etc.

Bullocks (males of cows and buffaloes)

They are used for ploughing in the fields.

Donkey, Mule, Horse, Camels and Elephants

They are used for carrying luggage and passengers

Honey bees

They are used for honey and beeswax. Beeswax is used in medicines and these bees help in pollination.

Dogs

Guard our house, entertain, and provide companionship.

Dogs and Cats

Both are good friends for humans

Silkworms

Used to extract silk fibre.

Earthworms

Used in the Vermicomposting process.

Snakes

Keep soil loose by making burrows and feed on rats that damage crops.

Butterflies and Fireflies

Help in pollination.

Birds

Different types of birds help in pollination. Used in controlling pests, seed dispersal and are nature’s clean-up crew.

We see different kinds of animals around us. Some are domesticated for our needs, while some are treated as pets. The lions, tiger, cheetah, wolf, and elephant are wild animals, protected from poachers, habitat loss, starvation, and predators. These wild animals are kept in zoos, sanctuaries and national parks.

When animals are so helpful, we have to take care of them.

Here is the list of things we all need to follow to protect domestic and wild animals.

  • Never try to hurt or tease animals
  • Animals should be given a nutritious diet
  • We should not show cruelty towards them
  • We should provide proper care to all animals
  • We should not kill animals without any reason
  • We should keep animals in a neat and clean place
  • Animals should be given appropriate treatment in case they fall ill
  • We should vaccinate pets against ‘rabies’ and other infectious diseases
  • Birds should not be kept in cages. There are numerous birds around us; feed them and provide them with water.

Plants – Parts of plants and their uses

Almost all plants have roots, stems, branches, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds as their main parts. The size and shape of plants may vary, but they all have common characteristics.

Plant Parts and Their Functions

Every part of the plant is essential to grow and develop.

Let us have a look at the components of plants and their functions.

Roots

They help in absorbing water and minerals from the soil for the plant.

Stems

They help transport water and minerals absorbed by the roots to different plant parts.

Branches

They help bear leaves, flowers and fruits.

Leaves

Leaves are known as the ‘kitchen’ of the plant. They prepare food for the plant from water and air in sunlight.

Buds

Buds develop into flowers

Flowers

Flowers develop into fruits, and they are the reproductive part of the plant.

Fruits

Fruits develop into seeds.

Seeds

Seeds germinate into a new plant when sown in the soil.

Uses of Plants

Similar to animals, plants are also widely helpful to humans. Every part of a plant is valuable and plants provide us with fresh air, shade, grains, medicines, oils, pulses, fruits, flowers, vegetables, wood, etc.

The table below provides a list of plants and their products.

Cereals

Cereals are produced from the edible seeds of maise, millets, oats, sorghum, rice, wheat, etc.

Pulses

Beans, chickpeas, cowpeas, dry peas, dry beans, lentils, moong, soybean, etc., are examples of pulses, the dried seeds of the legume plants.

Oil

Edible oil is extracted from the seeds of coconut, groundnut, mustard, soybean, sunflower, etc., which are examples of plants producing oil.

Medicines

Chamomile, cloves, eucalyptus, ginger, lavender, neem, mint, saffron, sandalwood, tulsi, turmeric, tea tree oil, etc., are examples of medicinal plants.

Timber

Wood obtained from the teak, pine, deodar, mango, coconut, sandalwood, rosewood, etc., are used as timber in buildings and furniture.

Spices

The edible spice from plants is obtained from leaves, bark, buds, flowers, fruits, and seeds. Ginger, cardamom, chillies, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, Indian bay leaves, turmeric, star anise, etc., are examples of naturally obtained spices from plants.

Fibre

Bamboo, cotton, coconut, coir, flax, hemp, jute, etc., are examples of fibre producing plants.

Fruits

Apple, banana, citrus fruits, dragon fruits, figs, grapes, guava, mango, papaya, pomegranate, etc., are examples of fruits.

Vegetables

Brinjal, cabbage, carrots, drumsticks, gourd, onions, potatoes, peas, radish, tomato, etc., are used as vegetables.

Green Leafy Vegetables

Broccoli, coriander, fenugreek, kale, mint, spinach, romaine lettuce, etc., are used as green leafy vegetables.

Food Chain and Food Web

We all need the energy to be alive and carry out different functions in our body cells and we get energy from the food we eat.

Where do other living things like animals, plants get their energy?

The ultimate source of energy on the Earth is from the Sun.

Plants get energy from food that they make in the presence of sunlight. Animals feed on these plants and gain energy. Similarly, other animals eat the flesh of these animals and get energy. This sequence is called a food chain.

Example of a food chain:

Rabbits eat plants.

Fox eats rabbits

A lion eats fox

Plants → Rabbit → Fox → Lion.

As given in the above example, when a lion dies, it is eaten by scavengers like eagles, vultures, crow crabs, ants, and other insects. The leftovers are further converted into smaller particles by the bacteria and fungi.

In this way, there is an energy transfer from one animal to another in a food chain.

Several such food chains are interconnected to form a web-like structure called a food web.

Balance in Nature

Both the food chain and the food web maintain a balance in nature.

If the number of plant-eating animals increases, they eat the maximum number of plants, leading to a decrease in food for them, thus leading to their starvation and death. Similarly, if the number of flesh-eating animals increases, they eat the maximum number of plant-eating animals, which leads to a decrease in food for flesh-eating animals. This leads to their starvation and death. Therefore, it is vital to balance both plant-eating and flesh-eating animals.

Measures to Conserve Environment

As mentioned above, both physical and biological environments are necessary to assure life continuity. Hence, we need to protect our environment from harm or destruction. We should conserve our environment by protecting air, water, soil, forests and balancing natural things and living beings.

Here is a list of things we all need to follow to conserve our environment.

  • Rainwater can be collected and used for various purposes.
  • We have to conserve forests by protecting forests, growing more trees.
  • We have to conserve soil by growing more plants and trees and protecting the fertile layer of soil from overgrazing and deforestation.
  • Reduce the usage of more plastic bags and fertiliser, which causes harm to the environment.
  • Water is precious and nature’s gift; hence it is necessary to save water. Water needs to be preserved and conserved from wasting and polluting water bodies by dumping waste and garbage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Write down the two uses of the following animals.
Hens, Goats and Bullocks

Hens are used for their eggs and meat.
Goats are used for their flesh and skin leather.
Bullocks are used for ploughing in the fields.

Write down the two uses of the following plants.
Cotton, Tulsi and Ginger

Cotton is used for fabrics.
Tulsi is used in medicine.
Ginger is used as spice and medicine.

Why are leaves known as the ‘kitchen’ of the plant?

Leaves are known as the ‘kitchen’ of the plant because they prepare food from water and air in the presence of sunlight.

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