environment ielts vocabulary

The natural world and the environment are one of the most common topics on all sections of the IELTS exam. So, you must have sufficient vocabulary to speak and write about the natural world and a range of environmental issues. It is also a common topic for reading and listening sections, and many of the words/phrases are transferable to other questions about transport or facilities in your local area. This page contains some essential IELTS vocabulary that has been divided into relevant sections. There are some sample answers followed by exercises for you to practice the words and phrases in context.

1. Vocabulary for Environment

General words and phrases

  • Atmosphere – The combination of gasses surrounding the earth
  • Biodegradable – Something that can decay naturally without causing harm
  • Climate change – The warming of the earth’s climate as a result of human action
  • CO2 / Carbon Dioxide – The gas formed when carbon burns or when animals and people exhale
  • Conservation – The act of trying to preserve and protect the environment
  • Conservationist – A person engaged in protecting the environment
  • Contamination – The presence of a substance in a place where it does not belong, or at higher levels than normal
  • Energy conservation – The process of using less energy
  • Environment – The air, land, and water where animals and people live
  • Environmentalist – A person who campaigns or acts for the protection of the environment
  • Environmentally-friendly – Something that does not harm the environment
  • Pollution – The environmental harm caused by contamination to either land, water, or air
  • Renewable energy – Energy sourced from wind, sun, or water
  • Rural – A location outside a large city or town.
  • Solar power – Energy sourced from the sun
  • Urban – A city or town location

2. Activity 1 – Vocabulary Exercise

Activity 1

Use the word(s)from above to complete the following sentences

1. More should be done to improve air quality by reducing _______________emissions from cars and public transport.

2. While some people argue that _______________is a natural process, the evidence overwhelmingly shows that it is caused by humans burning fossil fuels.

3. Governments should invest more money in developing different types of _________________such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric.

4. We should try and use more_________packaging instead of plastic because it breaks down naturally without causing environmental damage.

5. Considering the world is getting hotter, it would be a good idea to harness the extra heat by increasing the amount of _________________ we use to generate electricity.

6. The biggest threat to many sea species is overfishing and ocean _______________ that is caused by the chemicals from ships and boats.

7. The ________________of the world’s rainforests is an important issue to young people in the world, who do not want to see the loss of such a diverse habitat.

  1. CO2/ Carbon dioxide
  2. climate change
  3. renewable energy
  4. environmentally friendly
  5. solar power
  6. pollution
  7. conservation

3. Vocabulary for Plants & Animals

Words related to Plants and Animals

  • Agriculture/ Farming – The production of meat, vegetables, or other foods from plants or animals
  • Anatomy – The physical parts of a plant or animal
  • Biodiversity – The range of different plants or animals that create a balanced environment
  • Breed – (n) A type of animal that has been bred by humans in a specific way. For example, dogs, cats, and farm animals
  • Breed – (v) The act of reproduction in animals
  • Carnivore – A plant or animal that eats meat
  • Ecology – The relationship between plants, other living things, and the environment / A field of study
  • Ecosystem – The plants and animals in a specific area and their relationship to the environment – Below are the main types of ecosystem
    – Desert – High temperature / low rainfall – Less diversity of plants and animals
    – Freshwater – The plants and animals in ponds, lakes, and rivers
    – Grassland – High amounts of grass with few trees – Highly diverse range of wildlife
    – Jungle/Rainforest – High rainfall / high temperature – Highly diverse range of wildlife
    – Savannah – High temperature / moderate rainfall – Diverse range of plants/wildlife
    – Temperateforest – Climate varies with seasons – Highly diverse range of vegetation/wildlife
    – Tundra – Low temperature/ Close to the polar areas so biodiversity is low
  • Birds – An egg-laying animal with feathers, wings, and a beak. Can usually fly.
  • Endangered species – A type of animal that is in danger of becoming extinct
  • Evolve – The process of adapting with time to survive changes in the environment
  • Extinct – No longer existing
  • Fauna – The animals living in a specific area
  • Flora – The plants in a specific area
  • Fungus – An organism that grows on plants or decaying matter, for example, mushrooms.
  • Habitat – The place where a plant grows or where an animal lives
  • Herbivore – Eats a plant-based diet
  • Hibernation – A state of deep sleep that many animals do during the winter months
  • Insects – A small animal with 6 legs and often including wings
  • Livestock – The animals kept on a farm
  • Loss of biodiversity – A reduction of plant and animal species
  • Mammal – An animal that gives birth to live offspring and feeds its young milk.
  • Marine – Plants and animals that are related to the sea
  • Migrate – To move from one place to another with the change of season
  • Nocturnal – Active at night
  • Omnivore – Eats both plants and meat
  • Protected species – A type of plant or animal which has legal protections
  • Reptile – A cold-blooded animal with scales that lays eggs. For example, snakes, crocodiles, and lizards
  • Soil – The top layer of earth where plants and trees grow from
  • Species – A group that shares the same characteristics and can reproduce

4. Activity 2 – Plants & Animals Vocabulary Exercise

Activity 2

Read the sample answer and then complete the blanks with one of the words belowhabitat, mammals, nocturnal, species, breeds, fungus, agriculture, soil, livestock, birds

1. Do you take an active interest in nature?
Yes, I do take an active interest in nature, especially bird watching. I live by the coast where there is a wide variety of beautiful and unique flora and fauna. Some of the marine birds in the area have been designated as protected species by the local government, which issues fines to anyone caught hunting the birds. I particularly enjoy bird watching in autumn when thousands of birds migrate south from Canada to breed on the cliff tops.

Yes, I take an active interest in nature. I particularly enjoy searching forests for different types of______1______, which I use in my cooking. They grow best in moist and damp _____2_____ and I have to be careful not to pick any poisonous ones, which is hard because there are thousands of different _______3___.Also, while I am picking them, I take care not to destroy the ___4_________of any insects who may be living around them.

2. What aspect of the natural world excites you the most?
The part of nature that excites me the most is spring where I live. It is an amazingly diverse ecosystem and the change that occurs in spring is the most exciting part. The bears wake up from their winter hibernation and I like to go and see them in their natural habitat.I obviously watch from a safe distance because they are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and plants. Another thing I like about spring is that the flora comes into bloom and there are colourful plants everywhere.

My family are all involved in ____5___________ so the aspect of the natural world that excites me the most is taking care of my ________6________ on the farm every day. I mainly raise ______7_______ like sheep and cows, and I have four different rare____8_____of cow, all from different parts of the country. Aside from that, I also have a few ___9______ like ducks, chickens, and an owl, who is ____10_______and sometimes wakes me up in the middle of the night.

  1. fungus
  2. soil
  3. species
  4. habitat
  5. agriculture
  6. livestock
  7. mammals
  8. breeds
  9. birds
  10. nocturnal

5. Vocabulary for Environmental Issues

Environmental issues are extremely common on the IELTS test, and you will often be asked for your opinion regarding environmental threats and the impacts of environmental events. Below are some words that will be useful when talking or writing about the environment and the dangers it faces.
Words related to climate and environmental problems

  • Air quality – A measure of how clean or polluted the air is
  • Deforestation/reforestation – Cutting down of trees/planting of trees
  • Drought – A period of low rainfall which often causes crops to fail
  • Environmental disaster – A catastrophic event for the natural environment
  • Environmental hazard – A substance, state, or event that threatens the environment
  • Flood – A flow of water over what is normally dry land
  • Fossil fuels – Coal, oil, and natural gas
  • Glacial melt – Ice changing from a solid to a liquid because of warming temperatures
  • Greenhouse effect – The capture of heat in the lower atmosphere due to gases
  • Landfill – The place where non-recyclable waste is buried and covered with soil
  • Litter – Rubbish which has been left in a public place
  • Oil spill – accidental discharge of oil into bodies of water
  • Poaching – Illegal hunting of animals
  • Recyclable – Something that can be recycled and reused
  • Recycling – The process of collecting disused material and making it suitable for use again
  • Single-use plastics – Plastics that cannot be used more than once
  • Smog – Haze or fog caused by atmospheric pollutants such as CO2 or smoke
  • Sustainability – The ability to maintain activity at a level that doesn’t harm the environment
  • Toxicwaste – Waste that can cause environmental harm

6. Activity 3 – Environmental Issues Vocabulary Exercise

Activity 3

The following question contains words from all three sections. Use the words provided to answerthe following IELTS questionsustainable, species, litter, marine, recycled, extinct, disaster, single-useplastics, landfill, threat, biodegradable, pollutes

What do you think poses the biggest threat to the environment at the moment?

I think that the biggest environmental____________1_____ comes from _______2____________because of their prevalence in everyday life. They are used as packaging for so many products that it will be hard for many countries to cut down on their use. When I walk through my town, I see that most of the _____3______ on the floor consists of the same material, which is just used once and then thrown away. Usually, it ends up being buried in a _____4____________somewhere, where it takes thousands of years to decompose. Another consequence of this problem is that it _______5______the oceans so badly that we are losing many ____6_________ of fish and other _______7____life such as coral reefs. If we continue to dump plastic in the sea we will have an environmental __________8_________ on our hands, and many species could become ____9_________. I think the solution is more _______10______packaging that is _____11____ and will decompose naturally, or products that can be ______12________ and used again for something else would also be better than the current trend.

  1. Threat
  2. Single-use plastics
  3. Litter
  4. Landfill
  5. Pollutes
  6. Species
  7. Marine
  8. Disaster
  9. Extinct
  10. Sustainable
  11. Biodegradable
  12. Recycled

For more practice, visit IELTS vocabulary for climate change.

Vocab articles short lists

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