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Neo Kids on Natural Resources

What are Natural Resources

Natural resources are those elements of the environment that are considered valuable to humans. These can be raw materials, such as trees for lumber and ore for manufacturing, or things that are directly consumed, such as groundwater to drink and animals to eat. Natural resources 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. Many of them are essential for our survival while others are used for satisfying our wants. While a resource can be something that is necessary for an animal as well as a human, the term “natural resource” is always used in the human context.

Definition of Natural Resources

The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English defines natural resources as: materials or substances such as minerals, forests, water, and fertile land that occur in nature and can be used for economic gain.

How are Natural Resources Classified

Origin: Where they come from
1. Biotic – Biotic resources are obtained from the biosphere, such as forests and their products, animals, birds and their products, fish and other marine organisms, coal and petroleum.
2. Abiotic – Abiotic resources include non-living things such as land, water, air and ores such as gold, iron, copper, silver.
Considering their stage of development: If they have been used before or in theory can be used
1. 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.
2. 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.
Renewability: Can they be renewed or are they non-renewable
1. Renewable resources are ones that can be replenished or reproduced easily. List of some fo the renewable resources include sunlight, air, and wind, are continuously available and not affected by human consumption. Many renewable resources can be depleted, but may also be replenished, 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. These may be more accurately described as potentially renewable, because in many places they are not being actively renewed.
2. Non-renewable resources are formed over very long geological periods. These resources take extensive geological time to form, and are therefore essentially finite. Oil and natural gas are fossil fuels, which constitute an essential energy source of developed countries.
Availability: how available or abundant is the natural resource
1. Inexhaustible natural resources – Those resources which are present in unlimited quantity in nature and are not likely to be exhausted easily by human activity.
2. Exhaustible natural resources- The amount of these resources are limited.

List of Examples of natural resources

  • Air, wind and atmosphere
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Coal, fossil fuels, rock and mineral resources
  • Forestry
  • Range and pasture
  • Soil
  • Water, oceans, lakes, groundwater and rivers
  • Sun
Although the above is extensive, in the context of human usage, natural resources can be divided into three categories based on the possibility of resource renewal.
1. Perpetual Resources

2. Renewable

3. Nonrenewable