Different Types of Natural Resources

Natural resources are resources in the environment that have not been disturbed by mankind. By resource, one refers to any physical entity which has limited availability. These resources occur in their natural form. Few examples of natural resources are:
  • Air, wind, and atmosphere
  • Plants (Flora)
  • Animals (Fauna)
  • Agronomy (the science of using plants for food, fuel, feed, and fiber)
  • Wildlife
  • Forestry and Agroforestry
  • Coal and fossil fuels
  • Range and pasture
  • Soils
  • Water, oceans, lakes, and rivers
Something that people generally aren't aware of is that everything we use in everyday life is derived from natural resources For example, milk, which comes from cows, makes animals a natural resource. Vegetables that come from plants, salt which is a mineral, are some of the other natural resources. Wood that we get from tree is a natural resource. It can be used to build a house, make paper, burn in fireplaces and in stoves for cooking, etc.

Man utilizes these resources in various ways. They are processed further so as to be made suitable for our needs. The table below is an example that shows in what way the resources have been utilized:

Natural ResourcesMan-made Products
RiverHydroelectric power
ClamsClam chowder
FarmlandPotato chips

Here are a few natural resources and their uses:

  • Used for growing crops (only 10% of the Earth's surface).
  • Soil can be used for shelter. Many tribal people all around the world make shelter with the help of soil.
  • Used for drinking (only 0.0007% of Earth's water is suitable for drinking. The rest is salt water, water trapped in glaciers, or polluted water.
  • Freshwater is used for irrigation of crops.
  • Water bodies such as oceans, lakes, and rivers of the world can be used for transportation.
  • Fishing is a valuable source of food that is provided by water.
  • Water in rivers is being used to generate hydro-electricity.

Minerals can be defined as naturally occurring substances obtained from the ground. Some examples are coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron, copper, gold, etc. They are also absorbed by plants from the Earth's surface, and are transferred to humans through food.
  • They (coal, natural gas, and fossil fuels) are a source of energy.
  • Used as ingredients to make other materials like iron ore, minerals are also used to make steel, and petroleum which is used to make a variety of products like gasoline, plastics, etc.
  • Can be used in natural form like salt.
  • Land is used for farming from which vegetables and fruits are grown.
  • Wood from trees is cut and processed to make furniture for home.
  • Wood is used for cooking and also as fuel to produce heat for warmth.
  • Clothing - clothes are made from cotton.
  • Plants are used as an ingredient in medicines.
  • Animals are used as food, and their waste is used as fertilizers for crops.
  • We get fur and hides from animals which are used for making clothes.
  • Used for transportation.
Natural resources can further be defined as renewable and non-renewable. Renewable resources are those that can be produced again, for example, plants and animals, whereas, nonrenewable resources are those which cannot be produced again, for example, fossil fuels.

We need to make serious attempts to use natural resources in an efficient manner because in recent years, natural resources have depleted as a result of their careless use. The seriousness of the problem can be understood from the words of former American president Theodore Roosevelt, "The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem, it will avail us little to solve all others."

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