Introduction of natural resources
Introduction: Natural resources are materials and components (something that can be used) that can be found within the environment. Every man-made product is composed of natural resources (at its fundamental level). A natural resource may exist as a separate entity such as fresh water, and air, as well as a living organism such as a fish, or it may exist in an alternate form which must be processed to obtain the resource such as metal ores, oil, and most forms of energy.
There is much debate worldwide over natural resource allocations, this is partly due to increasing scarcity (depletion of resources) but also because the exportation of natural resources is the basis for many economies (particularly for developed nations such as Australia).
Some Natural resources can be found everywhere such as sunlight and air, when it is so the resource is known as an ubiquitous (existing or being everywhere) resource. However most resources are not ubiquitous. They only occur in small sporadic areas; these resources are referred to as localized resources. There are very few resources that are considered inexhaustible (will not run out in foreseeable future) – these are solar radiation, geothermal energy, and air (though access to clean air may not be). The vast majority of resources are however exhaustible, which means they have a finite quantity, and can be depleted if managed improperly. The natural resources are materials, which living organisms can take from nature for sustaining their life or any components of the natural environment that can be utilized by man to promote his welfare is considered to be natural resources.
- Man depends heavily on a larger number of plant and animal products from forests for his daily needs.
- The chief product that forests supply is wood, which is used as fuel, raw material for various industries as pulp, paper, newsprint, board, timber for furniture items, other uses as in packing articles, matches, sports goods etc.
- Indian forests also supply minor products like gums, resins, dyes, tannins, fibers, etc.
- Many of the plants are utilized in preparing medicines and drugs; Total worth of which is estimated to be more than $300 billion per year.
- Many forests lands are used for mining, agriculture, grazing, and recreation and for development of dams.
Depending upon the climate conditions, forest may be classified as:
Tropical Rain Forests:They are evergreen broadleaf forests found near the equator. They are characterized by high temperature, high humidity and high rainfall, all of which favor the growth of trees.
- Tropical deciduous forests: They are found a little away from the equator and are characterized by a warm climate the year round. Rain occurs only during monsoon.
- Tropical scrub forests:They are found in areas where the day season is even longer.
- Temperate rain forests: They are found in temperate areas with adequate rainfall. These are dominated by trees like pines, firs, redwoods etc.
- Temperate deciduous forests: They are found in areas with moderate temperatures.
- Evergreen coniferous forests (Boreal Forests): They are found just south of arctic tundra. Here winters are long, cold and dry. Sunlight is available for a few hours only.
The ecological services provided by our forests may be summed up as follows:
- Production of Oxygen:The main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is absorbed by the forests as a raw material for photo synthesis. Thus forest canopy acts as a sink for carbon dioxide thereby reducing the problem of global warming caused by greenhouse gas CO2.
- Wild life habitat:Forests are the homes of millions of wild animals and plants. About 7 million species are found in the tropical forests alone.
- Regulation of hydrological Cycle:Forested watersheds act like giant sponges, absorbing the rainfall, slowing down the runoff. They control climate through transpiration of water and seed clouding.
- Soil Conservation:Forests bind the soil particles tightly in their roots and prevent soil erosion. They also act as wind breakers.
- Pollution moderators:Forests can absorb many toxic gases and can help in keeping the air pure and in preventing noise pollution.
Over Exploitation of Forests:
- Man depends heavily on forests for food, medicine, shelter, wood and fuel.
- With growing civilization the demands for raw material like timber, pulp, minerals, fuel wood etc. shot up resulting in large scale logging, mining, road-building and clearing of forests.
- Our forests contribute substantially to the national economy.
- The international timber trade alone is worth over US $ 40 billion per year.
- The divesting effects of deforestation in India include soil, water and wind erosion, estimated to cost over 16,400 cores every year.
There are various methods of categorizing natural resources, these include source of origin, stage of development, and by their renewability, these classifications are described below. On the basis of origin, resources may be divided into:
Biotic: Biotic resources are obtained from the biosphere (living and organic material), such as forests, animals, birds, and fish and the materials that can be obtained from them. Fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum are also included in this category because they are formed from decayed organic matter.
Abiotic :Abiotic resources are those that come from non-living, non-organic material. Examples of abiotic resources include land, fresh water, air and heavy metals including ores such as gold, iron, copper, silver, etc.
Considering their stage of development, natural resources may be referred to in the following ways:
Potential Resources :Potential resources are those that exist in a region and may be used in the future. For example, petroleum may exist in many parts of India, having sedimentary rocks but until the time it is actually drilled out and put into use, it remains a potential resource.
Actual Resources :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.
Reserve Resources :The part of an actual resource which can be developed profitably in the future is called a reserve resource.
Stock Resources :Stock resources are those that have been surveyed but cannot be used by organisms due to lack of technology. For example: hydrogen.
Renewability is a very popular topic and many natural resources can be categorized as either renewable or non-renewable:
Renewable resources are ones that can be replenished naturally. Some of these resources, like sunlight, air, wind, etc., are continuously available and their quantity is not noticeably affected by human consumption. Though many renewable resources do not have such a rapid recovery rate, these resources are susceptible to depletion by over-use. Resources from a human use perspective are classified as renewable only so long as the rate of replenishment/recovery exceeds that of the rate of consumption.