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Standard IX – Environmental Education

Contents

Section I: Understanding Ecosystems……………………………2


• Ecosystems – An Introduction…………………………………….2
• Types of Ecosystems………………………………………………2
• Balance in Nature – Nutrient Cycles…………………………….3/4
• Conservation of Ecosystems……………………………………….5
• Conservation Case Study – Sacred Groves………………………....5

Section II: Depletion of Resources………………………………..6


• Natural Resources: A Review………………………………………6
• Depletion of Natural Resources……………………………………6

Section III: Waste Generation & Management…………………..7


• What a Waste………………………………………………………7
• Classification of Waste……………………………………………..7
• Sources and Types of Waste………………………………………..8
• Waste – What is the Problem? ……………………………………..9
• Dealing with Rubbish …………………………………………….10

Section IV: Environmental Values & Ethics…………………….11


• Environmental Ethics : Introduction…………………………........11
• Women and the Environment…………………………………......11

Some Useful Websites………………………………………...12/13

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Standard IX – Section I: Understanding Ecosystems
Ecosystems – An Introduction Types of Ecosystems
Ecosystems vary in size. They can be as small as Ecosystems can be divided into three main
a puddle or as large as the Earth itself. Any categories. Terrestrial Ecosystems, Freshwater
group of living and nonliving things Ecosystems & Marine Ecosystems. They can
interacting with each other can be considered as then be further subdivided into the following
an ecosystem. Like all systems they are a types of biomes or ecosystems.
combination of interacting, interrelated parts
Terrestrial Freshwater Marine
that form a unitary whole. All ecosystems are
"open" systems in the sense that energy and Rainforests Rivers & Tropical
matter are transferred in and out. Tundra Streams Oceans
Taiga Temperate
Ponds &
Deserts Oceans
Lakes
Temperate
Grassland Wetlands Shorelines

NOTE: It is important to remember that this is


just a simplified list of some of the main type of
ecosystems.

Across
A
B
Group Activity 7. A type of marine ecosystem
10. Type of plant found in desert biomes
I 11. A common tree of the Taiga
12. Vegetative cover found in Antarctica
O 16. The maximum amount of photosynthesis
T takes place in this ecosystem
19. The largest desert biome in the world
I
20. A biome which has a lot of rain
C 21. A type of rainforest in South America

Down
1. Things that are not alive
2. A mammal found in the ocean ecosystem
3. This is needed for photosynthesis
4. Another name for a biome
5. Famous American grasslands
6. A large flightless bird found in the
Antarctic biome
8. Rivers and streams fit this category
9. Ecosystem are ____ systems
Ecosystem 13. Home of all known biomes
14. A geographic region characterized by a
Crossword specific climate and biota
15. An Abiotic factor
Puzzle 17. This biome has very few trees
18. A biome found along Mumbai's coast
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Standard IX – Section I: Understanding Ecosystems
Group Projects: Biomes in a Box Water Cycle
In this activity students should divide into several The water cycle is one of the most important and
small groups of about 3-4 students, each group essential cycles on earth. Water is circled from
should be assigned/pick a different biome. various ponds, lakes, rivers and oceans to the
Read the following instructions: atmosphere by evaporation.
Build a 3D model or diorama of a biome in a box As temperatures fall, water vapour in the
(larger than a shoebox) using everyday materials. atmosphere condenses to form rain or snow
The model should include flora and fauna, and it (precipitation) and falls back to earth. Water is
should show the terrain. Tape a written also utilized by all living organisms for a variety
description of all of the characteristics of the of biological and chemical processes. The excess
biome on one side of the box and a world map water is then removed, either by transpiration in
indicating the locations of this biome on the plants or as waste from animals and returned to
other. Present your biome to the class. the environment.

Clouds Sunlight
Condensation

Evaporation
Balance in Nature: Nutrient Cycles
Rain / Snow
In nature, the materials needed by all organisms
in an ecosystem are reused or recycled from each
Ground
other. Nitrogen, carbon, oxygen, water and Used by Plants/
Water
other nutrients move through ecosystems in a Animals
predictable pattern or cycles. These nutrient Waterbody
cycles are called biogeochemical cycles.
Oxygen Cycle Why are green plants an indispensable
part of any ecosystem?
Oxygen is vital for almost all life on earth and the
key to the oxygen cycle is green plants. The Can you think of some different examples
atmosphere is composed of about 21% oxygen. of combustion?
Oxygen from the atmosphere is primarily used (HINT: Fire consumes oxygen)
during combustion (burning) and respiration.
What do you think is the difference
The lost oxygen is replenished by plants, algae & between combustion and respiration?
phytoplankton during photosynthesis. In this
process the chlorophyll found in green plants is What are clouds? How are they a part of
used to capture light energy and this energy the water cycle?
along with carbon dioxide and water is used to
make simple sugars and oxygen. Draw a diagram of a water cycle in your
city. Include important sources of water,
sunlight local plants, consumers of water and modes
H2O + CO2 C6 H12 O6 + O2
of precipitation.
(sugar)
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Standard IX – Section I: Understanding Ecosystems
Balance in Nature: Nutrient Cycles Nitrogen is the most common gas found in the
Carbon Cycle earth's atmosphere and comprises of nearly 71%
Carbon is one of the most important elements of its composition.
found on earth and all living things (and many There are two main ways in which atmospheric
non-living things as well) are full of carbon! Nitrogen (N) is Fixed:
(i) Fixed by lightening
(ii) Fixed by bacteria (Rhizobium)
Fixed N is then used by plants and animals which
integrate the N into their tissues. N is important
because it is an important constituent of DNA
and proteins.
Denitrifying bacteria then releases N back into
the atmosphere in the form of nitrous oxide or
nitrogen gas.

The State of the World’s Ecosystems


Humans have been having an impact on their
environment for millions of years, but none so
Carbon from the atmosphere in the form of great as in the last 50 years. To understand the
carbon dioxide is used by plants during consequences of changes to ecosystems, UN Sec.
photosynthesis to manufacture sugars. These General Kofi Annan launched a comprehensive
plants are then consumed by animals which scientific study, the Millennium Ecosystem
incorporate the carbon into their body tissues. Assessment, which was completed in 2005.
When plants and animals die they decay releasing
CO2 back into the atmosphere. Decaying plant Complete an simple analysis of the Millennium
and animal matter may also be converted into Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) and develop
coal or oil. CO2 is released into the atmosphere your understanding of the relationship between
when these underground sources of ‘C’ are burnt ecosystems and humans by answering the
as fossil fuels for energy. following questions.

Nitrogen Cycle You can find a summary of MEA’s findings at:


http://www.greenfacts.org/ecosystems/
Atmospheric Nitrogen (N2)
(Fixed by lightening) How do ecosystems provide services to
‘N’ in plant and humans?
animal protein
How have ecosystems changed in the last
50 years or so?
N-fixing bacteria in the soil What are the main causes for these
‘N’ in decaying matter
and waste (solid and
and on plant roots convert changes?
Atm. N into compounds
liquid)
How do these changes affect human well-
Denitrifying Nitrogen in Soil being?
bacteria produce
NO and N2 gas How can we reverse the degradation of
Ammonia Nitrite Nitrates
ecosystems?
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Standard IX – Section I: Understanding Ecosystems
Conservation of Ecosystems Conservation Case Study: Sacred Groves
The measure of the health of an ecosystem is its Devara kadu (sacred grove) is a traditional
biological diversity, or biodiversity. Humans are institution in the western ghat region of
encroaching upon wilderness areas and Karnataka, where a patch of forest in each village
destroying habitats at an alarming rate. We are is devoted to the worship of a village deity and
reducing biodiversity, causing the extinction of thereby conserved. Management of these forests
plants and animals, and destroying ecosystems. is largely non-utilitarian However, the groves by
We must therefore support conservation efforts. their location serve as watersheds & provide a
Conservation is the careful management of a number of ecological functions including the
natural resource or a species to prevent formation of rich humus which is used by the
exploitation, neglect, and/or destruction. villagers for their crops.

What do you think the word biodiversity Recently, these groves have been threatened by
means? cardamom and coffee plantation owners, who
encroach on the forested land for farming
Why is it important to conserve different practices. If the encroachment continues the
ecosystems? ecological functions served by these groves and
The oldest and most common problem their rich biodiversity will be at stake.
facing all conservationists is the balancing of At the Shanthalli devara kadu ten farmers
conservation practices with the needs and encroached 23 acres (25%) for cultivating
necessities of human beings. Can you think cardamom over 20 years. The entire village of
of ways in which this problem can be Shanthalli requested the encroachers to vacate
resolved? and brought this encroachment to the notice of
Did you know ??? the State Forest Department , but to no avail.
India has 2356 known species of
The villagers then boycotted the social functions
amphibians, birds, mammals and
(marriages, birthdays etc) of the encroachers and
reptiles. Of these, 18.4% are
came to the rescue of protesters who had been
endemic, meaning they exist in
jailed for protesting the encroachments. The
no other country, and 10.8% are
Village community was finally successful in
threatened (WCMC).
getting 90% of the encroachers evicted and the
solidarity of the village community for the cause
Website: National Bio-diversity Action Plan -
of conservation helped protect the institution of
http://www.kalpavriksh.org/kalpavriksh/kalpavr
the devara kadu.
iksh/f1/f1.1/index_html (Original Reference: Chandrakanth, World Bank Initiative)

Reference: Rustletheleaf.com 5
Standard IX – Section II: Depletion of Resources
Natural Resources : A Review
Natural resources (NR) are naturally occurring What are some potential uses for the
substances that are considered to be essential or following list of Mumbai’s NR:
useful to humans in a relatively unmodified
(natural) form. Natural resources include Natural Resource Type Uses
commodities such as minerals, ores, petroleum, Arabian Sea R Fisheries, Salt
forests, wildlife, and aspects of the physical
environment such as land, air and water and even Borivili National Park
energy. Natural resources are often classified into
Renewable and Non-renewable. Oval Maidan

Bombay High
Non-renewable resources are sources that
cannot be replenished and are limited in quantity Mithi River
or are utilized at a rate far faster than the rate at
which they are restocked. Examples include, Vikhroli Mangroves
fossil fuels and minerals.
Malad Quarries

Chowpatty Beach
LE
LE
W -
E N

B
B
N O

A
A

Depletion of Natural Resources


W
E N

E
N

In recent years the depletion of natural resources


E
R
R

has become an increasingly imminent problem.


At our current rate of consumption, the reserves
Renewable resources are generally living of many resources are at risk of being exhausted.
resources (fish, coffee, and forests, for example),
which can restock or renew themselves at the This process of depletion may be a long way off
rate at which they are extracted, if they are not for a number of resources such as air, water and
overharvested. Renewable resources may also certain mineral ores; but other resources such as
include non-living substances that are relatively fossil fuels, biodiversity, fresh water and fertile
abundant and are replenished by natural cycles. soils are being used up so quickly there is a
These include soil, water, wind and solar danger that critical thresholds will be crossed
radiation, to mention a few. before long.
Think of THREE examples of NR that
When talking about NR, energy is particularly were once abundant in your city, but have
important. Like all natural resources, sources of been depleted by human activity in recent
energy are both renewable and non-renewable. years.
Renewable forms of energy also called non-
conventional or alternative energy includes What are some of the causes for the
solar power, hydro energy, wind power, thermal depletion of natural resources around the
power and natural gases and fuels. Non- world? (Create a list of these causes based on
renewable forms of energy are more familiar and in class discussion and see if you can come
include substances like petroleum, coal and gas. up with any solutions)

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Standard IX – Section III: Waste Generation & Management
What a Waste!
Waste or Rubbish is what people throw away Group Activity: Complete the following
because they no longer need it or want it. Today, table on waste classification.
as a society we are producing more waste than
ever before. Around the world, waste is being Write a few examples for each category and
disposed into abandoned mines, open fields and explain whether they are harmful to the
forests and even being dumped into the oceans environment. Explain how you came to this
while some of it is being incinerated, causing air decision.
pollution. With the spread of technology,
industrialization & increasing standards of living,
the garbage factor is an unwelcome and often Non-
Biodegradable
unnoticed side effect of “development”. biodegradable

Hint: Banana peels


Classifications of Waste Harmless, Decompose
Waste generated by human activity can be in a few weeks & adds
fertilizer to the soil
divided into different classifications.
Non-Toxic
Garbage can be divided into biodegradable and
non-biodegradable and toxic and non-toxic.
Biodegradable (B) waste consists of waste that
can be broken down by microorganisms and
natural processes into simpler and more stable
compounds, usually carbon dioxide and water.
Non-biodegradable (NB) substances are those
which for all intents and purposes cannot be
broken down in nature and remain unchanged.
Toxic

Toxic waste consists of substances that are


directly or indirectly harmful. They maybe be
poisonous to plants and animals or may disrupt
ecosystems and natural cycles.
Non-toxic waste are substances that pose no real
threat to human health or the environment.

Reference: Rustletheleaf.com 7
Standard IX – Section III: Waste Generation & Management
Sources & Types of Waste
When you think about waste it is easy to see that Waste can vary greatly and its composition depends on
its sources. The following diagram describes the different types of waste based on composition and
source. Waste is produced from FIVE main sources: (1) Domestic (2) Industrial (3) Commercial
(4) Agricultural and (5) Transport

Sources & Types of Waste

Domestic Agricultural Commercial Transport Industrial


• This is waste • waste produced • Waste produced • Produced by • Produced by
produced by by agricultural by commercial the transport Industries during
people in their activities establishments on industry manufacture or
homes a daily basis • emissions, extraction
• Agri-waste may
• It is primarily be bio-waste or metals, rubber • Can be divided
of two types chemical & chemicals into many groups

Solid Waste Liquid Waste Industries


Hotels & Shops
Restaurants • Petro-chemical
• NB’s like tins, • Drainage from • paper, plastic, • Paper
plastic bags, the kitchen • Similar to
wood, cloth, old • Mining & Metal
glass bottles • Sewage domestic waste
electronics, inks • Power Plants
• Kitchen waste • Textiles
like peels and Hospitals & • Pharmaceutical
left over food Laboratories
• Needs to be handled
• Cloth, wood, carefully. It is usually
old batteries & Bio-Waste Chemicals Gas
hazardous
broken gadgets • material • Fertilizer,
• Needles, blood, stool, Solid Exhaust, Liquid
from plants, pesticides & CO,SO2,
glass, urine, cloth and Mining Chemicals,
cattle waste, herbicides NOX
pathological waste etc waste, oils, waste
food etc
sludge water

Student Assignment: Waste Diaries


For this project each student must create a waste diary. You must document, for the duration of a regular
school day (from the time you wake up, to the time you go to bed), the different kinds of waste you and
your friends and family produce. While documenting the different kinds of waste created, try to note
what the source of the waste is, where the waste might be disposed off and ways of reducing the
production of that waste.
Example: 7:30am – Woke up, and opened a new toothbrush. Threw away a biodegradable cardboard
packaging and non-biodegradable plastic cover that held the toothbrush. Brushed my teeth, and
washed my face and mouth, the waste water was disposed off down the bathroom drain, where it will
join the sewage system.
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Standard IX – Section III: Waste Generation & Management
Waste: What is the Problem?
The environmental, economic and social impacts In addition to the impacts of waste on
of the waste we produce are significant and ecosystems and wildlife, waste also directly
require that we make serious changes in our affects human health. Chemical and nuclear
approach to waste management and disposal. waste, if disposed of improperly can enter the
Implications of waste accumulation can be food chain and water sources and cause a range
divided into two major concerns of diseases from birth defects in children to
cancers in adults. Emissions cause respiratory
1. The generation of so much waste means diseases and sewage is a breeding ground for
we are using resources inefficiently. mosquitoes and malaria. All of these are just a
When we throw something away we are wasting few examples on a long list of waste induced
all the materials, time and energy that were used impacts on human health.
to make it in the first place. On the other hand Did you know ???
recycling paper means that the energy put into The United Nations Development
pulp and paper production can be saved, Programme (UNDP) estimates that
reducing use of plastic bags means that less oil more than five million people die
needs to be extracted, and reusing scrap metal each year from diseases related to
means that fewer quarries and mines need to be inadequate waste disposal systems.
built, thus creating less of an impact on the (Reference: UNEP)
environment and our limited resources.

2. The management and disposal of waste


has serious implication for health and the Class Activity: The Waste Free Picnic
environment. Sandwiches, bananas, mangoes, vegetables,
chicken, burgers, tikkis, samosas and ice-cream.
The disposal of waste causes With these delicious ideas in mind, why not
the damage and destruction of design and organise a WASTE FREE PICNIC.
the natural environment. Solid
waste, when accumulated, ruins ƒ Start by listing who you would like to come.
landscapes & blocks waterways. How about designing a poster or invite? Make it
Improper waste disposal also interesting - How about some facts about Waste
leads to pollution Reduction or Waste issues at school? And don’t
forget to put in the date and time
Emissions from factories and vehicles cause air
pollution, the disposal of sewage to rivers and ƒ Get together with your class mates and
oceans causes eutrophication and the build up organise some waste free food. Buy fruits and
of toxic compounds while the dumping of vegetables from the market and buy bread that
construction waste in fields and forests disrupts isn’t wrapped in layers of plastic and cardboard.
natural cycles and pollutes the soil. On a larger
ƒ Avoid using thermacol cups and paper plates
scale, the creation and disposal of waste, as a by
and plastic forks and spoons.
product of human activity, also leads to
catastrophes such as the ozone hole, global ƒ And while you are at it teach people about
warming and acid rain. waste by putting up posters about the hazards of
all that rubbish and some wacky waste facts.

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Standard IX – Section III: Waste Generation & Management
Dealing With Rubbish
How much waste we produce and what we do After the Dustbin: A Questionnaire on the
with it are vital if we wish to live in a safe and fate of rubbish in Mumbai
sustainable society. The options for dealing with Fill in the blanks in the following section to learn
our rubbish are best described in the waste more about waste disposal in the city.
hierarchy.
♦ The __________________ is responsible for
Prevention the collection and disposal of garbage in the city.

Reduce ♦ Greater Mumbai generates about __________


tonnes of solid waste a day.
Reuse
Recycle
♦ The city of Mumbai generates ______ tonnes
of biomedical waste per day, this waste is treated
E. Recovery through _____________.
Disposal ♦ There are ____ (fill the blank with a number)
landfill sites in Mumbai.
♦ _______________ is a natural process of
converting organic waste into manure / soil
Most favourable options conditioner, it is used in Mumbai.
Least favourable options ♦ The quantity of wastes disposed off through
The waste hierarchy prioritises the order of the processing and conversion to organic manure is
way we should deal with waste. At the very top, about ___________ tonnes per day.
the most ideal solution in the elimination of the ♦ The Sewerage Operations department collects,
amount of waste one throws away. This can be processes and disposes of ___________ litres of
accomplished by Preventing the activities that effluents a day through its network of sewers,
lead to excess waste creation or Reducing the treatment plants and outfalls.
amount of waste that is created and thrown away.
No waste = no disposal problems! ♦ Almost ______ percent of the population of
Greater Mumbai is served by the community bin
If creating certain types of waste is unavoidable, collection system
then we should try and find a way of Reusing
that waste, or find someone else who could use it More Questions on Waste:
instead. Recycling is a much better option than
Why is the disposal of waste to landfills
final disposal but is not the best option of the
not a good option?
hierarchy, because it uses some energy and
resources. The process of incineration is used to
Energy Recovery from waste as heat from recover energy from waste materials, but it is
incineration or biogas from decomposing organic still not a favourable option for waste
waste is also an option. This process is not very disposal, why do you think that is?
efficient and causes the loss of energy and Now that you’ve learnt about the three R’s
resources as well as pollution. Disposal to (reduce, reuse & recycle) how can you apply
landfills and water bodies is the least favourable them at home?
and most harmful way of dealing with waste.
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Standard IX – Section IV: Environmental Values & Ethics
Environmental Ethics: Introduction
Class Activity: Environmental Debates
So far we have learned about a number of To the Teacher: Divide the class into groups (4 –
different environmental concerns, examined their 6 depending on the size of the class). Pair up
impact on human populations and looked at each group with another and then give them one
different ways of solving them. While many of of the debate topics listed below. One group
these issues have a direct impact on today’s should be for the statement the other group
generation, many of them have little to do with should be against it.
our everyday lives. Why then should we concern
ourselves with these problems? The answer to Topics
this question often falls under the purview of a ♦ The Narmada River Valley Project is an
field called Environmental Ethics. important part of India’s energy program and the
environmental and social issues associated with it
Environmental ethics is a discipline that studies
are a small price to pay for development.
the moral relationship of humans to, & also the
value and moral status of, the environment and ♦ It is impractical and unnecessary to try and
its nonhuman contents. protect all biodiversity, we should just focus on
those aspects of the environment that are
Is it morally acceptable for poor farmers in important for human development.
under-developed countries to practice slash and
burn techniques even though they destroy vast
♦ It is necessary to remove indigenous/tribal
people and migrant villagers from tiger
stretches of forest and grassland? Does a mining
conservation areas if efforts to protect this
company, that destroys a previously unspoilt
endangered species and its habitat are to be
ecological area, have a moral obligation to restore
successful.
that area to its original ecology? And what is the
value of a human constructed habitat compared Research these topics and then debate them in
to a natural one? class (15-20/debate). You will get a good idea of
just how difficult it is to make decisions about
Is it ethically wrong for
the environment.
human beings to pollute and
destroy parts of the natural
environment & to consume Women and the Environment
large proportions of Earth’s The relationship between women & the environ-
natural resources. ment is a unique one and needs special attention.
Women, especially those in developing countries,
And, if that is wrong, is it wrong because a are involved in maintaining households, working
sustainable environment is essential to (present on farms and plantations, are responsible for the
and future) human well-being? Or is such education of children and form a larger section
behaviour also wrong because the natural of the consumer market. All these activities have
environment and its components have values in serious implications for ecological protection and
their own right, that is does the natural conservation and yet, most women around the
environment have an intrinsic value irrelevant world are not involved in environmental politics
of its value to human beings. These are among and policy making decisions. To ensure our
the many questions that come up in discussions future and the future of the environment we
on the environment. must also focus on the liberation and education
of women.

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Standard IX – Some Useful Websites
‰ Food & Agriculture Organisation of the U.N
This UN site contains information on world ecosystems
http://www.fao.org/

‰ U.N Environment Programme


Information on ecosystems, wildlife, environmental issues, pollution and conservation.
http://www.unep.org/

‰ Ministry of Environment & Forests (India)


A government of India website that has information on environmental issues and conservation in
India, as well as current environmental policies and laws.
http://envfor.nic.in/

‰ Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (India – Maharashtra)


Information on management of waste and pollution as well as statistic on air and water pollution
in the city.
http://mpcb.mah.nic.in/

‰ The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (India – Mumbai)


Information on waste collection, management and disposal in Greater Mumbai
http://www.mcgm.gov.in/forms/grindex1.aspx

‰ U.S Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.A)


Information on ecosystems, wildlife, environmental issues, pollution and conservation.
http://www.epa.gov/

‰ Toxics Link (India)


Independent organisation working to share information about the sources and dangers of
poisons in the environment, as well as clean and sustainable alternatives for India and the World.
http://www.toxicslink.org/

‰ Waste Watch (United Kingdom)


Promotes research and education on waste, waste reduction, reuse and recycling.
http://www.wastewatch.org.uk/

‰ Recycle Zone (United Kingdom)


A site for schools, children and teachers that tells you what's what in the world of waste!
http://www.recyclezone.org.uk/home.aspx

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Standard IX – Some Useful Websites
‰ Kalpariksh (India)
This site contains information on Indian ecosystems, waste, medicinal plants and holi colours.
www.kalpavriksh.org

‰ Friends of the Earth (United Kingdom)


A general website on environmental education, natural resources, ecosystems and waste.
www.foe.co.uk

‰ Kids R Green
A part of C.E.E (see below) a website with environmental information for kids. The site also has
some activities and projects.
http://www.kidsrgreen.org/krg.html

‰ Centre for Environment Education (India)


Information on the environment, sustainable development, conservation and biodiversity.
www.ceeindia.org

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