Natural resources and their types

Natural resources and their types

Meaning of Natural Resources

The resources which exist naturally in the environment and can be exploited by humans to satisfy their needs or wants are called natural resources. Natural resources are derived from the environment, i.e. they are not created by human beings, but they offer potential or actual economic value (creating wealth) including aesthetic value. 

Examples of natural resources are fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, coal, etc.), minerals, (diamonds, gold, copper, silver, etc.), natural vegetation (forests, timber, etc.), animals (salmon, whales, deer, etc.), water (water power, wetlands watercourses, lakes, etc.), air, wind, sunlight, soil, topsoil (but agricultural) lands, with their input of fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and so forth, are not considered to be natural resources), etc.

There is a close relationship between nature or natural resources and an economy. Nature or natural resources are essential for the functioning of the economic system, i.e. production, distribution, and consumption. Some of the resources are essential to survive, while others just satisfy societal wants, Every man-made product in an economy is composed of natural resources to some degree.

Similarly, economic activities such as production and consumption may have a greater impact on nature or natural resources. These activities may involve extraction (the process of withdrawing) of resources from nature and depletion (the using up) of natural resources. Thus, human activities lead to the exhaustion of natural resources. So the protection and management of natural resources are essential for the sustainable development of the country.

Types of Natural Resources/ Classification of Natural Resources

Natural resources can be classified based on the renewability, sources of origin, and the state of development of the resources. 

Natural resources cat be classified based on their renewability or recovery as follows:

1. Renewable natural resources: The physical or biotic resources that at used by people but can be replenished in a timely manner are called renewable natural resources, For example, sunlight, air, wind, animals, plants, water, and forests can be replenished over a period. The replenished period may be longer or shorter. Renewable natural resources may be plentiful or limited.

2. Non-renewable natural resources: Non-renewable resources are those which are limited in amount and cannot be replenished in a timely manner. They are essentially irreplaceable once extracted. For example, minerals and fossil fuels are formed over very long geological periods. Since their rate of formation is very slow, they cannot be replenished once they get depleted.

3. Perpetual natural resources: Perpetual natural resources are those which cannot be depleted over any period of time. These kinds of natural resources regenerate themselves forever and never get exhausted despite intensive use. For instance, sunlight, air, water, biogas, geothermal energy, etc are perpetual natural resources.

In terms of the source of origin, natural resources can be divided into the following types:

1. Biotic natural resources: The natural resources that come from living sources and organic matter are called biotic natural resources. For example, forests and animals, and the materials obtained from them. Biotic natural resources also include fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum which are formed from organic matter that has decayed.

2. Abiotic natural resources: The natural resources that come from nonliving and non-organic matter are called abiotic natural resources. Examples of these resources include land, freshwater, air, and heavy metals (gold, iron, copper, silver, etc.).

Natural resources can also be categorized based on their stage of development as follow:

1. Potential resources: These resources exist in a region and may be used in the future. For example, if Nepal has petroleum in sedimentary rocks, it is a potential resource until it is drilled out of the rock and brought into use.

2. Actual natural resources: These are the resources that have been surveyed and their quantity and quality have been determined, and they are also currently being used. The development of actual resources depends on technology.

3. Reserve natural resources: This is the part of actual resources that can be developed profitably in the future.

4. Stock natural resources: These are such resources that have been surveyed, but cannot be used due to lack of technology. An example of a stock resource is hydrogen.

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