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Basic Elements, Nature, Scope and Limitation of Environmental Law

Laxman P. Mainali
LLM, Climate Change Law Master of Environmental Law

Basic Elements of Environment

Each country defines environment in their environmental legislations where the elements of the environment can be found. Some legal definitions of the Environment
Section 1(2) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (UK)
environment consists of all, or any, of the following media, namely, the air, water and land; and the medium of air includes the air within buildings and the air within other natural or man-made structures above or below ground.

Section 2 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986

Environment" includes water, air, land and the interrelationship which exists among and between water, air, and land and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organism and property.

Natural environment is a composite. It includesall the agents, forces, processes, and material resources of the world of Nature. For instance, the natural environment of any part of the earths surface can be classified into the following sixteen elements.
1. Weather and climate

2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Landforms Rocks and minerals Soils Natural vegetation Native animal life Micro-organic realm

Surface waters of the land Underground waters The ocean The coast zone Geometrical position/Absolute location (it is one of the factors which helps to create differences in human society.) 6. Natural situation 7. Geographical location 8. Regional form or shape 9. Areal space or size These elements are not present in all areas. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Section 528 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999 of Australia
environment includes: (a) ecosystems and their constituent parts, including people and communities; and (b) natural and physical resources; and (c) the qualities and characteristics of locations, places and areas; and (d) heritage values of places; and (e) the social, economic and cultural aspects of a thing mentioned in paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d). This definition of Environment is not limited to the natural environment. In particular, paragraphs (c) and (d) include the qualities and characteristics of locations, places and areas, and the heritage values of places in the definition(air quality).

Section 2 of the Environment Protection Act, 1997 of Nepal
(a) "Environment" means the interaction and interrelationship among the components of natural, cultural and social systems, economic and human activities and their components.

What is Environmental Law?

Environmental law is a law, both national and international environmental law, that is related to the environment. Generally, the definition of the environmental law is not found in the national environmental law. But, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of Australia has defined it in her national context.

Under Section 528 of the Environment Protection and Bio-diversity Conservation Act, 1999 of Australia.
environmental law means: (a) this Act; or (b) the regulations; or (c) the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975; or (d) regulations made under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975.

Scope Environmental Law

Air quality Water quality and quantity Soil erosion and land degradation Protection of endangered species Adequate treatment and proper disposal of waste Proper management of dangerous chemicals Mining Forestry Fisheries Oil exploration and production Eco-systems

Limitation of Environmental Law National Environmental Law

Limited in the national jurisdiction

International Environmental Law

Beyond the National jurisdiction

Forest Wetlands Scenic sites High sea Atmospheres Antarctica Outer space Human Settlement Minorities and Indigenous people