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Improve your IELTS vocabulary on "Environment"

Published on July 3, 2018

Welcome back! In this five-part series, we’re looking at ways to improve your vocabulary for your IELTS test. In case you missed the previous posts, here they are:

  1. Improve your IELTS vocabulary on “Education”
  2. Improve your IELTS vocabulary on “Transportation”

Today, we’ll be looking at improving your IELTS vocabulary on the topic of the environment. We’ll start by exploring relevant sub-topics that you can use to create your own vocabulary sets. Then, we’ll go over a few nature and environment idioms that are easy to learn and use. So keep on reading!

Vocabulary sets related to the environment

The environment is a very common IELTS theme. This is especially true for Speaking Part 3 and Writing Task 2. In Part 3 of the Speaking test, you will be expected and encouraged to fully explore the topic and support your opinions effectively. As for Writing Task 2, you may be asked to analyze a specific problem related to the environment, by identifying causes, predicting consequences and/or suggesting possible solutions. With this in mind, we’ve selected three sub-topics related to the environment, each with words and phrases that you can use to develop your ideas in either module of the test (Speaking or Writing):

Set 1: The natural world

wildlife

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

animals and plants that grow in natural conditions

collocations:

endangered wildlife

local/native wildlife

preserve/protect/save wildlife

endanger/threaten/damage/harm wildlife

wildlife conservation/protection

example:

It is well known that the use of pesticides harms wildlife, yet we continue to use them.

pronunciation:

/ˈwaɪld.laɪf/


biodiversity

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

the variety of life (plants and animals) found in a particular place

collocations:

preserve biodiversity

biodiversity conservation

loss of biodiversity

example:

I believe more funding should be made available for biodiversity conservation.

pronunciation:

/ˌbaɪ.əʊ.daɪˈvɜː.sə.ti/

ecology

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

the relationship between living things and their environment in a particular area

collocations:

animal/human/marine/plant

fragile ecology

damage/disrupt the ecology

example:

Water pollution has caused great damage to the marine ecology.

pronunciation:

/iˈkɒl.ə.dʒi/

natural resources

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

any of the materials that exist in nature and that can be used by people

collocations:

natural resources conservation/management

use of natural resources

rich in natural resources

example:

Saudi Arabia is a country rich in natural resources, particularly in oil.

pronunciation:

/ˈnætʃ·ər·əl ˈri·sɔrs, ˈri·sɔʊrs/

species

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

a group of animals or plants in which

collocations:

living species

endangered/threatened species

extinct species

protected species

species of (fish, bird, insect, etc.)

example:

Sadly, most of the endangered species are at risk due to human activity.

pronunciation:

/ˈspiː.ʃiːz/

Set 2: Environmental issues

emission

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

an amount of something, particularly a harmful gas, that is sent out into the air

collocations:

emissions of greenhouse gases/carbon dioxide

cut/reduce/limit emissions

emission cuts/reductions/control

example:

I think developed countries should aim to reduce emissions, even if it means slower economic growth.

pronunciation:

/ɪˈmɪʃən/

global warming

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

an increase in the earth’s temperature that causes changes in climate

collocations:

fight/combat/tackle global warming

contribute to global warming

the effects of global warming

example:

Some people think that it’s too late to reverse the effects of global warming.

pronunciation:

/ˌɡləʊ.bəl ˈwɔː.mɪŋ/

carbon footprint

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

a measurement of the amount of carbon dioxide that a person or organization produces

collocations:

reduce the carbon footprint of

example:

Nowadays, more and more organizations are committed to reducing their carbon footprint.

pronunciation:

/ˌkɑː.bən ˈfʊt.prɪnt/

dumping ground

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

a place where things that are not wanted are left

collocations:

a dumping ground for

example:

We must stop treating our oceans like a dumping ground.

pronunciation:

/ˈdʌm.pɪŋ ˌɡraʊnd/

oil spill

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

an accident in which oil has come out of a ship and into the environment, and caused pollution

collocations:

victims of oil spills

large scale oil spills

example:

Many species of fish and birds are often victims of oil spills.

pronunciation:

/ˈɔɪl ˌspɪl/

Set 3: Helping the environment

carbon-neutral

part of speech:

adjective

meaning:

If a person, activity or organization is carbon-neutral, it does things like planting trees to reduce carbon dioxide by the same amount as it produces it.

collocations:

become (totally) carbon-neutral

example:

Being carbon-neutral should be the goal of every responsible company.

pronunciation:

/ˌkɑː.bənˈnjuː.trəl/

environmentally-friendly

part of speech:

adjective

meaning:

not harmful to the environment

collocations:

environmentally-friendly business/company

environmentally-friendly practices

environmentally-friendly technologies

environmentally-friendly products

example:

It is important that, as customers, we demand environmentally-friendly products.

pronunciation:

/ɪn.vaɪ.rənˌmen.təl.i ˈfrend.li/

preserve

part of speech:

verb

meaning:

to keep something as it is

collocations:

preserve the environment

seek to/try to preserve

help (to) preserve

example:

We must help to preserve the environment for future generations.

pronunciation:

/prɪˈzɜːv/


sustainability

part of speech:

noun

meaning:

the idea that we should meet our own needs in ways that do not damage the environment and that do not use resources that cannot be replaced

collocations:

environmental sustainability

sustainability of sth

promote sustainability

example:

From recycling to using public transport, there are many things that we can all do to promote sustainability.

pronunciation:

/səˌsteɪnəˈbɪlɪti/

biodegradable

part of speech:

adjective

meaning:

able to decay in a natural way that is not harmful to the environment

collocations:

biodegradable packaging/materials

example:

I always buy products that come in biodegradable packaging.

pronunciation:

/ˌbaɪəʊdɪˈɡreɪdəbl/

Nature and environment idioms

idiom

meaning

example

Mother Nature

nature or weather considered as a force that controls all living things

It’s easy to forget about all of the wonders that Mother Nature provides us.

to go/get back to nature

to start living a simpler life, one that allows us to be more in tune with nature

I was ready to get away from the city and go back to nature.

to go green

to choose an environmentally-friendly lifestyle

We’ve decided to go green by eating natural, organic, locally produced foods.

It’s quite common for other popular IELTS themes, such as transportation, to include questions related to the environment. Because of this, it’s important that you’re ready to discuss the topic at any point during the test, and that you feel comfortable linking topics and using your new IELTS vocabulary flexibly.

Stay tuned for our next post on the IELTS theme of travel!