Natural resource

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Natural resources (economically referred to as land or raw materials) occur naturally within environments that exist relatively undisturbed by mankind, in a natural form. A natural resource is often characterized by amounts of biodiversity existent in various ecosystems. Natural resources are derived from the environment. This is currently restricted to the environment of Earth yet the theoretical possibility remains of extracting them from outside the planet, such as the asteroid belt.[1] Many of them are essential for our survival while others are used for satisfying our wants. Natural resources may be further classified in different ways.



On the basis of origin, resources may be divided into:

  • Biotic - 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.
  • Abiotic - Abiotic resources include non-living things. Examples include land, water, air and 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 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.

On the basis of status of development, they can be classified into potential resources,developed resources,stock and reserves.

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 forests, 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.[2] But coal and petroleum cannot be recycled.[3]

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