Natural Resources occurs and exists naturally in the environment, these resources primarily sustains and supports life, and exploiting and harnessing its potential can both help improve human's standards of living. It is said, the more biodiverse a particular ecosystem the greater its natural resource.
 Types of Natural Resources
On the basis of origin, resources may be divided into:
- Biotic resources are obtained from the biosphere, such as forests and their products, animals, birds and their products, fish and other marine organisms. Mineral fuels such as coal and petroleum are also included in this category because they are formed from decayed organic matter and eventually will become fossils.
- Abiotic resources include non-living things. Examples include land, water, air and ores such as gold, iron, copper, and silver to name a few.
Considering their stage of development, natural resources may be referred to in the following ways:
- Potential Resources are those that exist in a region and may be used in the future.
- Actual Resources are those that have been surveyed, their quantity and quality determined and are being used in present times. The development of an actual resource, such as wood processing depends upon the technology available and the cost involved. That part of the actual resource that can be developed profitably with available technology is called a reserve.
With respect to renewability, natural resources can be categorized as follows:
- Renewable resources are ones that can be replenished or reproduced easily. Some of them, like sunlight, air, wind, etc., are continuously available and their quantity is not affected by human consumption. Many renewable resources can be depleted by human use, but may also be replenished, thus maintaining a flow. Some of these, like agricultural crops, take a short time for renewal; others, like water, take a comparatively longer time, while still others, like rainforests, take even longer.
- Non-renewable resources are formed over very long geological periods. Minerals and fossil fuels are included in this category. Since their rate of formation is extremely slow, they cannot be replenished once they get depleted. Of these, the metallic minerals can be re-used by recycling them.But coal and petroleum cannot be recycled.
Natural resources are naturally occurring resources in the environment that have not been disturbed by mankind. By resource is meant any physical entity, which has limited availability. These resources occur in their natural form. Few examples of natural resources are:
- Air, wind and atmosphere
- Plants (Flora)
- Animals (Fauna)
- Agronomy (the science of using plants for food, fuel, feed and fiber)
- Forestry and Agroforestry
- Range and pasture
- Water, oceans, lakes and rivers
Man utilizes these resources in various ways. These resources are processed further so as to be made suitable for our needs. The table below is an example that shows in what way the resources have been utilized.
- Used in agriculture such as growing crops (only 10% of the Earth’s surface).
- Soil can be used for shelter. Many tribal people all around the world make shelter with the help of soil.
- Used for drinking (only 0.0007% of Earth’s water is suitable for drinking. The rest is salt water, water trapped in glaciers or polluted water.)
- Fresh water are used in irrigating agricultural land in order to increase production.
- Oceans, seas, lakes and rivers serve as waterways for the shipment of the world's majority of goods and products.
- Exploiting marine resources which includes fishing.
- Rivers can generated hydro-electricity. Seas with significant tidal difference can be used to set up a Tidal power plant.
Minerals can be defined as naturally occurring substances obtained from the ground. They are coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron, copper, gold, etc. They are also absorbed up by plants from the Earth’s surface and transferred to humans through food.
- Coal, natural gas and fossil fuels are the major source of energy.
- Used as ingredients to make other materials like iron ore, is used to make steel and petroleum is used to make a variety of products like gasoline, plastics, etc.
- Can be used as they are in natural form like salt.
- Land is used for farming from which vegetables and fruits are grown.
- Wood from trees is cut and processed to make furniture and other wood products.
- Wood is used for cooking and also as fuel.
- Clothing - clothes are made from cotton.
- Plants are used as an ingredient in medicines.
- Meat from animals are used as a food, and their waste is used as fertilizers for crops.
- We get fur and hides from animals which are used for making clothes.
- Used for transportation.
We need to make serious attempts to use natural resources in an efficient manner because in recent years, natural resources have depleted as a result of careless use. The seriousness of the problem can be understood from the words of former American president Theodore Roosevelt, "The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem, it will avail us little to solve all others."
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