About: National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), Functions, Composition, Standing Committee of the NBWL, Protected Areas

About: National Board for Wildlife (NBWL)

  • The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) is a statutory body constituted in 2003, under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • It serves as an apex body to review all wildlife-related matters.
  • The board is advisory in nature and advises the Central Government on framing policies and measures for conservation of wildlife in the country.


  • The primary function of the Board is to promote the conservation and development of wildlife and forests.
  • It has the power to review all wildlife-related matters and approve projects in and around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
  • No alternation of boundaries in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries can be done without the approval of the NBWL.


  • Chairperson: Prime Minister of India
  • Vice-Chairperson: Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
  • In addition to offices and institutions directly involved in conservation and protection of wildlife, the NBWL also has the chief of army staff, defence secretary, expenditure secretary to Government of India as members.
  • The board has a total of 47 members, including the chairperson.

Standing Committee of the NBWL:

  • Under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act (WLPA), 1972, the NBWL can constitute a Standing Committee (SC).
  • The SC consists of the Vice-Chairperson, the Member Secretary and not more than ten members to be nominated by the Vice-Chairperson from amongst the members of the National Board.
  • The SC’s function is to regulate land diversion within Protected Areas and Eco Sensitive Zones, making it a purely project clearance body.
    • The NBWL, on the other hand, has the power to deal with policy-level decisions on wildlife.

  • Several proposals seeking statutory approvals for such projects come up before the SC which meets once every three months to deliberate and grant or reject approvals.
  • Every proposal requires to be submitted by the State Government in the approved format with complete details such as maps, field assessments, alternatives explored, etc.
  • The SC will then have to consider such proposals in accordance with the provisions of the WLPA.
  • Every decision must be backed by clear reason(s), in writing, as to how the project or the decision to approve it ensures improvement and better management of wildlife therein.

News Summary:

  • The Standing Committee approved 48 projects in 2020, the year of the Covid-19 pandemic which severely restricted ground visits for taking crucial decisions.
  • Most of the projects cleared were for linear diversion within wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and tiger reserves.
    • Linear projects are land-disturbing activities that are linear in nature such as roads, railways, transmission lines, pipelines or any utility lines.
    • Such projects fragment the entire landscape and interrupt movement range of animals.

  • The Standing Committee had also approved deletion (de-notification) of 1,08,983 hectares (around 1,089 sq. km) of Protected Areas (PA) from Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh and Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.

About: Protected Areas:

  • A protected area is a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.
  • Protected areas are a mainstay of biodiversity conservation, while also contributing to people’s livelihoods, particularly at the local level.
  • India has a network of 981 Protected Areas covering about 03% of its total geographic area.
  • India has designated its Protected Areas into four legal categories under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972:
    • National Parks (104),
    • Wildlife Sanctuaries (566),
    • Conservation Reserves (97) and
    • Community Reserves (214)

 Environment & Ecology