In the words of the late President Roosevelt, “The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem, it will avail us little to solve all others”. However, in order to preserve them, it is imperative to understand the different classifications of natural resources. Natural resources are copiously found all over the earth and are commonly used by man for survival, protection, comfort, shelter etc. Natural resources are classified on the basis of renewable, non-renewable, biotic, abiotic, recyclable and non-recyclable divisions. Although these resources exist freely in the environment, for the purpose of identification these are divided into three categories; renewability, distribution and origin. Natural resources occur within the geographical boundaries in all countries, and include minerals, land, air, water, flora and fauna. What people don’t realize is that everything that is used by man in his everyday life is actually derived from the natural resources available outside. For example, the wood that we get from the tree or the milk that comes from cows are all natural resources that are utilized by humans for daily survival. The only difference is that man processes these natural resources before using them. For the purpose of better understanding, the different types and classifications of natural resources are further explained below.
Different Types of Natural Resources
Renewable Natural Resources
There are some resources that cannot be exhausted and are available in plentiful. These can be easily replenished through natural processes in different ecosystems and are often known as renewable natural resources. For example, sunlight and wind are two apt examples of renewable natural resources. Based on abundance and availability, these resources are continually replaced and replenished faster than the rate of their consumption by the human race. Biomass is another fitting example of a renewable natural resource.
Non-Renewable Natural Resources
As the name suggests, non-renewable natural resources are those that are limited in supply and are not restored or are restored slowly by natural processes. These are waning at an accelerating rate and very little will be left for future generations. Petrol, oil and coal are a few appropriate examples of non-renewable natural resources. Natural gas, coal and a few other fossil fuels take millions of years to form naturally and therefore, cannot be replaced once they have been consumed. Hence, these will eventually be used up due to the over-exploitation by human beings.
Recyclable Natural Resources
Recyclable natural resources are those that can be collected after their use and can be recycled for future requirements. Both recyclable and non-recyclable natural resources are sub-divisions of non-renewable natural resources. Although these cannot be replenished, these can be reprocessed. A few suitable examples would be aluminium and other metals such as copper that are easily found on the earth’s crust and can be salvaged easily.
Non-Recyclable Natural Resources
Although these resources fall under non-renewable natural resources, these resources have no way of being recycled. Mineral energy resources such as fossil fuels and natural energy cannot be recycled or replaced very quickly.
Biotic Natural Resources
Some prefer to classify resources on the basis of their origin. These resources would directly be classified under biotic and abiotic natural resources. Biotic natural resources are all living resources that are able to reproduce, replace life and grow in numbers. These are all the resources that are obtainable from the biosphere for example rainforests, agriculture, fish, wildlife and fuels formed from decaying matter.
Abiotic Natural Resources
Abiotic natural resources are all the non-living resources that cannot replace themselves easily and are obtained from the surface of the earth’s crust. Some of these resources are reproduced at extremely slow rates in terms of human life periods. A few examples would include water, land, mineral ores such as copper, gold, silver and aluminium.
With regards to distribution, natural resources are further divided into national resources, multinational and international resources. National resources are those resources that are available within the national boundaries of a country. In this respect, a few examples would be the minerals and lands available in profusion in the country.
Multinational resources are those that are shared by more than one country between two geographical boundaries. Rivers, migratory animals and lakes are definite examples to name a few. These do not specifically belong to one particular country and are equally shared and possessed by two or more countries.
International resources are the matter that no single individual or country can put a finger on. These resources are shared by all nations and are provided in bounty to all the countries in the earth. Oceans, air, solar energy and precipitation are a few examples of international resources.
The study of natural resources and the discovery of the classification of these resources have led to their efficient management. In recent years, most of these resources have depleted as a result of offhand use. Natural resources run parallel with human development and the course of evolution itself. Being the epicenter of the earth’s existence, these resources have to be conserved and protected for the sustenance of life, keeping in mind the weighty words of the late President Theodore Roosevelt. Happy Conservation!