Types and Classification of Natural Resources
The numerous types of natural resources are grouped under four headings which are water resources, sun energy resources, land resources, rock and mineral resources, and the atmospheric resources.
This article therefore, defines, explains and considers the dimension of all these natural resources.
What is Nature and Resources?
The dictionary of environmental and ecology (5th edition) define Nature as all living organisms and the environments in which they live, and Resources in ecological point of view as anything in the environment which can be used.
The definition of these two terms brings to mind of the word natural resources. In other to comprehend the nature of resources, the natural resources in the environment must have to be unfolded.
Natural resources refer to the untamed natural essence of the environment. They contain a significant amount of material as well as aesthetic values that exist relatively undisturbed by mankind, in a natural form.
Examples such as land or raw materials occur naturally within environments. Many of them are essential for our survival while others are used for satisfying our wants.
Types and Classification of Natural Resources
Natural resources are classified in different ways but in a simple way, natural resources can be categorized into various types which can be based on the nature of their origin, stage of development, renewability and availability.
In this simple way of classification the examples of natural resources given are interwoven.
Classification of Natural Resources Based on Origin
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 such as land, water, air and ores such as gold, iron, copper, silver etc.
Stages of Development
Potential Resources- Potential resources are those that exist in a region and may be used in the future. For example, petroleum which exists in many parts of the world are formed naturally in sedimentary rocks. It is drilled out and put into use and remains a potential resource.
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Actual Resources – Actual resources are those which can also be called developed resources, stock and reserves 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 which can be developed profitably with available technology is called a reserve.
Classification of Natural Resources Based on Renewability
Renewable resources– Renewable resources are those materials 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- Non-renewable resources are formed over very long geological periods. Minerals and fossil fuels are examples of this category. Since their rate of formation is extremely slow, they cannot be replenished once they get depleted.
The metallic minerals in this case can be re-used by recycling them but coal and petroleum cannot be recycled.
Classification of Natural Resources Based on Availability
In terms of availability, resources could be classed either as inexhaustive and exhaustible
Inexhaustible naturalr esources- Resources which are present in unlimited quantity in nature and are not likely to be exhausted easily by human activity are said to be inexhaustible natural resources. These include sunlight, air etc.
Exhaustible natural resources- The amount of these resources are limited. They can be exhausted by human activity in the long run. Examples are coal, petroleum, natural gas, etc.
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