Natural Resources: Meaning and Classification of Natural Resources!
The sum total of all the physical, chemical, biological and social factors surrounding a man may be termed as environment. Each element in the surroundings forms resources on which the human beings depend, in order to develop economically and socially a better life system.
Thus, a resource may be defined as any part of the environment such as land, water, air, mineral, forest, wildlife, fish, population etc. which the human beings utilise to promote their welfare. In other words, all means of satisfying human needs, at a given time and place are called resources.
According to Ramade (1984), a resource may be defined as a form of energy and/or matter which is essential for the functioning of the organisms, populations and ecosystem. The ecological variables like energy, matter, space, time and diversity combinedly are referred as natural resources.
Some resources are essential for the survival of all the living organisms like air, soil, water, plants and animals while others are specially valued by man to satisfy his material needs and desires such as minerals and fossil fuels. Thus, land, water, air, minerals, forests, wildlife as well as human beings are resources.
Classification of resources:
The resources may be classified in a number of ways:
1. According to Continual utility:
It is seen that some resources are going on depleting where as others are continuing in the environment despite of their uses. So basing on continual utility the resources are divided in to two categories:
(a) Renewable resources (Flow resources):
The resources which can be renewed along with their exploitation and can be always available for use are known as renewable resources. That is, these resources have natural regeneration and these are inexhaustible. Some examples of renewable resources are forests, air, solar energy etc.
(b) Non-renewable resources (Stock resource):
The resources which are present in finite quantities and cannot be renewed along with their exploitation are known as non-renewable resources. That is, if these resources are used in large scale, these will exhausted soon. So these are also known as exhaustible resources. Some examples of such type of resources are coal, minerals, fossil fuels etc.
(c) Cyclic resources:
The resources which can be used again and again passing through some processes are known as cyclic resources. An example of cyclic resource may be water.
2. According to origin:
The resources can also be classified according to their origin i.e., whether a resource is having biological origin or not.
So on this basis, resources are of two types:
(a) Biotic resources:
When a resource is living organism or originated from living organisms, it is known as biotic resource i.e., it is obtained from the biosphere. Some examples of such type of resources are coal, mineral oil, forest etc.
(b) Abiotic resources:
When a resource is neither derived from living organism nor living organism, it is termed as abiotic resource i.e., such resources are composed of nonliving inorganic matter. Some examples of such type of resources are air, land, water, minerals etc.
Land resources or soil resources:
Land or soil is the upper most part of the earth’s surface which is used for the production of crops and other biological materials needed for food, fodder, medicine and associated material. The stones, sand and gravels are used in the construction work.
Some micro-organisms present in the soil maintain the soil fertility through nitrogen fixation and others are responsible for return of essential elements back to soil by the decomposition of dead organic matter. The processes like nitrogen fixation, antibiosis, soil formation, decomposition of organic matter etc. take place within the soil. The surface soil also act as a feeding zone of plants.
Table 4.1: World Land Use Pattern
Percentage of Land
Range land and pasture
Tundra and wet land
The soil is constituted as a result of long term processes of complex interaction leading to the production of a mineral matrix in close contact with organic matter both living and dead after a longtime, the parent mineral matter takes the modified shape which forms soil.
The interactions among climatic, topographic and biological factors pave the process of transformation and modification of mineral matter in to soil.
Thus, soil has mainly the components like:
(i) Mineral matter,
(ii) Soil organic matter (humus);
(iii) soil water;
(iv) soil air
(v) Biological system.
According to Dakuchayer (1889), soil is a result of the actions and reciprocal influences of parent rocks, climates, topography, living organisms and age of the land.
The Soil is described by the following formula
S = (g.e.b) t
where S is soil, ‘g’ is geology, ‘e’ is environment; ‘b’ is biological influences and ‘t’ is time. The formation of one inch of soil takes 500 to 1000 years.