Effective Management of Environment, Conservation and Natural Resources—Key to Sustainable Management Practices and Perspectives

Sustainability in businesses not only mean better branding, higher employee satisfaction, motivation and retention and building an atmosphere of innovation in the company but also imply making meaningful contributions to the social and ecological milieu in which the company operates. Businesses that operate responsibly become sustainable if they do not have any negative impact (or have a positive effect) on the environment or the society. But when companies operate irresponsibly, they often contribute to issues like environmental degradation, inequality and social injustice.

Now even investors keep a check on companies’ ethical conduct and sustainability practices. They evaluate and put a high value on a companies’ track record on elements of socio-ecological business responsibilities like carbon footprint, saving of energy and water, conservation of natural resources, community development efforts and diversity in the company board, etc.; they check the environmental, social and governance ratings that usually correspond to lower cost of debt and equity, including effective financial performance.

Effective management of environment and its natural resources is critical for sustainable conservation, which also includes making a correct analysis of our habitat which today faces serious challenges due to rising imbalance of natural resources, distortions in land use, fragmentation and degradation. For instance, national parks and sanctuaries in India are facing serious threat and challenges due to rising habitat loss, imbalance of animals and their life-support resources, fragmentation and degradation.

T. V. Ramachandra and Bharath Setturu in their research article published in FIIB Business Review, Sustainable Management of Bannerghatta National Park, India[1], with the Insights in Land Cover Dynamics, apply the LULC (land use land cover) analyzed and quantitatively explored the forest cover transitions in the Bannerghatta National Park of Karnataka during 1973–2015, using a modelling technique, which reveal a substantial loss in vegetation cover, i.e. from 85.78 to 66.37 per cent, and moist deciduous cover, i.e. from 26.1 to 13.8 per cent. The study further revealed a slight increase in horticulture, i.e. from 8.5 to 11 per cent. It was deduced that it is the change and development in the socio-political and economic system of the region in the last 4-5 decades that has impacted the health and management of the ecosystem and natural resources of the Bannerghatta National Park and its buffer.

Researchers then visualized the likely land use in 2027 and predicted the loss of forest cover (i.e. from 41.38 to 35.59 per cent), and an increase in urban area (i.e. from 4.49 to 9.62 per cent), which would emerge in form of new residential and commercial layouts in the buffer zone of the national park violating the Section 5(1) of Environment Protection Act 1986, i.e. eco-sensitive zone norms.

Socio-economic thinkers and scientists love to agree that there is a presence of strong correlation between the urbanization and industrialization factors and the loss of habitat and growing imbalance amongst man, animal, forests and other natural resources. The Government, NGOs and other concerned civil societies and agencies have also been working hard in trying to balance the preservation and conservation of the natural habitat without overlooking and ignoring the factors such as an increasing presence of roads and railway lines, uncontrolled inflow of heavy vehicles, land encroachment for agriculture, fuelwood and grazing, and introduction of developmental projects and industries in conserved land/ forest areas.

We require more of such prophetic and anticipating analytical studies, so that concerned policymakers could initiate the corrective actions at the opportune moment, and publish a suitable and effective action plan for the stakeholders to follow. And basis such an assessment, all present actions could be oriented to a sustainable future. The key would be to start using the environment and its resources rationally, and managing and preserving them skillfully in the best interests of mankind, and to achieve the desirable sustainable situation, i.e. total reserve of the environment and its resources remains unchanged and intact. Despite the presence of sustainability on agenda in almost every organization, there has been a serious absence of appropriate alignment of the environmental, social and governance goals and initiatives with the core strategy. And therefore, companies often employ a fragmented and reactive approach to sustainability —limited to short-sighted green initiatives, temporary steps to comply with the regulations and deal with emergencies, and so on — rather than including sustainability in their vision which could impact their overall businesses.

[1] FIIB Business Review, Vol. 8, Issue 2, 2019: pp.118-131.