Some authors prefer to classify resources into biotic and abiotic resources:a)Biotic resources: These are living resources (e.g. forest, agriculture, fish andwild life) that are able toreproduce or replace them and to increase.b)Abiotic resources: These are non-living resources (e.g. petrol, land, mineralsetc.) that are not able to replacethemselves or do so at such a slow rate thatthey are not useful to consider them in terms ofthe human life times
A natural resource is defined as a form of energy and/or matter which isessential forthe functioning of organisms, populations and ecosystems.Inthe case of humans, a natural resource, in his words, refers to any form of energy ormatter essential for the fulfillment of physiological, socio-economic andculturalneeds, both at the individual level and that of the community.Life on our planet earthdepends upon a large number of things and servicesprovided by the nature, which areknown as natural resources. Water, air, soil,minerals, coal, forests, crops and wild life are allthe examples of naturalresources.The basic ecological variables- energy, space, time and diversity aresometimescombined called natural resources. These natural are maintainingecologicalbalance among themselves. Man is the only organisms who have disruptedthisduplicate balance.According to Ramade (1984), a natural resource is defined as aform of energyand/or matter, which is essential for the functioning oforganisms, populationsand ecosystems. In the case of humans, a natural resource, inhis words, refersto any form of energy or matter essential for the fulfillment ofphysiological, socio-economic and cultural needs, both at the individual level andthat of thecommunity.The basic ecological variables- energy, space, time and diversity are sometimescombinedcalled natural resources. These natural resources are maintainingecological balance amongthemselves. Man is the only organism who hasdisrupted this duplicate balance
Classification of natural resources:Natural resources can be divided into two categoriessuch as (1) renewable and (2) Nonrenewable resourcesRenewable resources:The resources that can be replenished through rapidnatural cycles are known as renewableresource. These resources are able toincrease their abundance through reproduction andutilization of simplesubstances. Examples of renewable resources are plants, (crops andforests),and animals who are being replaced from time to time because they have thepowerof reproducing and maintain life cycles. Some examples of renewableresources though theydo not have life cycle but can be recycled are wood andwood-products, pulpproducts, natural rubber, fibers (e.g. cotton, jute, animalwool, silk and synthetic fibers) andleather. In addition to these resources, water and soil are also classified as renewableresources.Solar energy although having a finite life, as a special case, is considered asarenewable resource in as much as solar stocks are inexhaustible on the humanscale.
Non-Renewable Resources:The resources that cannot be replenishedthrough natural processes are known as non-renewable resources. These areavailable in limited amounts, which cannot be increased.These resourcesinclude fossil fuels (petrol, coal etc.), metals(iron, copper, gold, silver, lead, zincetc.), minerals and salts(carbonates, phosphates, nitrates etc.). Once a non-renewable resource is consumed, it isgone forever. Then we have to find asubstitute for it or do without it.Non-renewableresources can further be divided into two categories, viz. a) re-cycle able and b) non-recyclablea) Recycleale: These are non-renewable resources, which can be collectedafter they are used and can be recycled. These are mainly the non-energymineralresources, which occur in the earth’s crust (e.g. ores of aluminium, copper,mercuryetc.) and deposits of fertilizer nutrients (e.g. phosphate sock andpotassium and mineralsused in their natural state (asbestos, clay, mica etc.)b) Non-recyclable: These are non-renewable resources, which cannot berecycled in any way. Examples of these are fossil fuelsand uranium, whichprovide 90 per cent of our energy requirements
Examples of Renewable and Non-renewableresources:Even our renewable resources can become non-renewableif we exploit them tosuch extent that their rate ofconsumption exceeds their rate of regeneration.For example if a species is exploited so much that itspopulation size declines belowthe threshold level then itis not able to sustain itself and gradually thespeciesbecomes endangered or extinct.It is veryimportant to protect and conserve our natural resourcesand use themin a judicious manner so that we don’texhaust them. It does not mean that weshould stop usingmost of the natural resources. Rather, we should usetheresources in such a way that we always save enough ofthem for our futuregenerations.Following are someexamples of the major natural resources:1. Forestresources2. Water resources3. Mineral resources4. Foodresources5. Energy resources6. Land resources
FOREST RESOURCES:Forest Resources:It is a dense growth of trees, together with other plants,covering a large area of land. Forestsare one of the most natural resources onthis earth. Covering the earth like a green blanketthese forests not only produceinnumerable material goods, but also provide severalenvironmental serviceswhich are essential for lifeAbout 1/3 of the world’s land area is forested which includes closed as well asopen forests.Former USSR accounts for about a 5thof the world’s forests, Brazilfor about a 7thand Canada and USA each for 6-7%. But it is a matter of concernthat almost everywherethe cover of the natural forests has declined over theyears. The greatest loss occurred intropical Asia where one third of the forestsresources have been destroye
USES OF FORESTS:Commercial Uses:Forests provide us a large number of commercial goodswhich includetimber, firewood, pulpwood, food items, gum, resins, non-edibleoils, rubber, fibers, lac, bamboo canes, fodder, medicine, drugs and manymoreitems, the total of which is estimated to be more than $ 300 billion per year.Half of thetimber cut each year is used as fuel for heating and cooking. One thirdof the wood harvestis used for building materials as lumber, plywood andhardwood, particle board andchipboard. One sixth of the wood harvest isconverted into pulp and used for paperindustry. Many forest lands are used for mining, agriculture, grazing, and recreation and fordevelopment of dams.Ecological uses:While a typical tree produces commercial goods worth about $590 it providesenvironmental services worth nearly $ 196 to $ 250.The ecological services provided by ourforests may be summed up as follows
1. Production of oxygen: The trees produce oxygen by photosynthesis which isso vital for life on this earth. They arerightly called as earth’s lungs.2. Reducing global warming: The main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2)is absorbed by the forests as a raw materialfor photosynthesis. Thus forestcanopy acts as a sink for CO2 thereby reducing the problemof global warmingcaused by greenhouse gas i.e. CO2.3. Wild life habitat: Forests are the homes of millions of wild animals and plants.About 7 million species arefound in the tropical forests alone.4. Regulation of hydrological cycle: Forested watersheds act like giantsponges, absorbing the rainfall, slowing down the runoffand slowly releasing thewater for recharge of springs. About 50-80% of the moisture in theair abovetropical forests comes from their transpiration which helps in bringing rains.5. Soil Conservation: Forests bind the soil particles tightly in their roots andprevent soil erosion. They also actas windbreaks.6. Pollution moderators: Forests can absorb many toxic gases and can help inkeeping the air pure and clean. Theyhave also been reported to absorb noiseand thus help in preventing air and noise pollution
DEFORESTATION:The total forest area of the world in 1990 was estimated to be 7000 millionhectares whichwas reduced to 2890 million hectares in 1975 and fell down to just 2300 million hectares by2000. Deforestation rate is relatively less intemperate countries, but it is very alarming intropical countries where it is ashigh as 40-50 percent and at the present rate is it estimatedthat in the next 60years we would lose more than 90 percent of our tropical forests.Theforested area in India seems to have stabilized since 1982 with about 0.04%decline annuallybetween 1982-90. FAO (1983) estimated that about 1.44 mhectares of land were broughtunder afforestation during this period leading tostabilization. As per FAO estimates, thedeforestation rate per unit population inIndia is the lowest among the major tropicalcountries, despite the fact that wehave a huge population size and very low per capita forestarea (0.075 ha per capita). However, we are still far behind the target of achieving 33% forestareas,as per our National Forest Policy, as we are still having only 19.27% of our landarea(63.38m ha) covered by forests based on satellite data (MoFF, 1998
WATER RESOURCES:Water is an indispensable natural resource on this earth on which all lifedepends. About97% of the earth’s surface is covered by water and most of theanimals and plants have 60-65% water in their body.Water is characterized by certain unique features which make it amarvelousresource:•It exists as a liquid over a wide range of temperature i.e. from 0 to 100 C.•It has the highest specific heat, due to which it warms up and cools downvery slowlywithout causing shocks of temperature jerks to the aquatic life.•It has high latent heat of vaporization. Hence, it takes huge amount energyfor gettingvaporized. That’s why it produces a cooling effect as itevaporates.•It is in an excellent solvent for several nutrients. Thus, it can serve as avery good carrier ofnutrients, including oxygen, which are essential for life. But it can also easily dissolvevarious pollutants and become a carrier of pathogenic microorganisms.•Due to high surface tension and cohesion it can only easily rise throughgreat heightsthrough the trunk even in the tallest of the trees like Sequoia.
DAMS AND THEIR EFFECTS ON FORESTS AND PEOPLE:Big dams and rivers valley projects have multi-purpose uses and PanditJawaharlal Nehruused to refer to these dams and valley projects as “Temples of modern India”.However, these dams are also responsible for the destruction of vast areas of forests. Indiahas more than 1550 large dams, the maximum beingin the state of Maharashtra (more than600), followed by Gujarat (more than 250)and Madhya Pradesh (130). The highest one isTehri dam, on river Bhagirathi inUttaranchal and the largest in terms of capacity is Bhakradam on river Satluj inHimachal Pradesh.Big dams have been in sharp focus of variousenvironmental groups all over theworld which is mainly because of several ecologicalproblems includingdeforestation and socio-economic problems related to tribal or nativepeopleassociated with them.The Silent valley hydroelectric project was one of the first suchprojects situatedin the tropical rain forest area of Western Ghats which attracted muchconcern of the people.The crusade against the ecological damage and deforestation causeddue toTehri dam was led by Shri..Sunder lal Bahaguna, the leader of ChipkoMovement. Thecause of Sardar Sarovar Dam related issues have been taken upby the environmentalactivitist Medha Patkar, joined by Arundhati Ray and BabaAmte.For building bigdams, large scale devastation of forests takes place whichbreaks the natural ecologicalbalance of the region. Floods, droughts andlandslides become more prevalent in suchareas.Forests are the repositories of invaluable gifts of nature in the form of biodiversityandby destroying them (particularly, the tropical rain forests) we are going to20
WATER USE AND OVER-EXPLOITATION:Due to its unique properties water is of multiple uses for all living organisms.Water isabsolutely essential for life. Most of the life processes take place inwater in water containedin the body. Uptake of nutrients, their distribution in thebody, regulation oftemperature, and removal of wastes are all mediated throughwater.Water use by humans isof two types:1.Water withdrawal: taking water from groundwater or surface water resourceand2.Water consumption: the water which is taken up but not returned for reuse.Water: A precious Natural Resource:Although water is very abundant on this earth, yet it is very precious. Out of thetotal waterreserves of the world, about 97% is salty water (marine) and only 3%is fresh water. Even thissmall fraction of fresh water is not available to us mostof it is locked up in polar ice capsand just 0.003% is readily available to us in theform of groundwater and surfacewater.Overuse of groundwater for drinking, irrigation and domestic purposes hasresultedin rapid depletion of groundwater in various regions leading to loweringof water table anddrying of wells. Pollution of many of the groundwater aquifershas made of these wells unfitfor consumption.Rivers and streams have long been used for discharging the wastes.Groundwater:About 9.86% of the total fresh water resources is in the form of groundwater and it is about35-50 times that of surface water supplies.
BIG DAMS- BENEFITS AND PROBLEMSBenefits:River valley projects with big dams have usually been considered a key role inthedevelopment process due to their multiple uses. India has the distinction of having thelargest number of river valley projects. These dams are oftenregarded as a symbol ofnational development. There are hopes all over fromevery corner of the region where suchdam is planned to be constructed. Suchprojects result providing much employment ofopportunities, raise in the standardof living and improvement in quality of life. Suchprojects have tremendouspotential for economic upliftment and growth. It can checkfloods and famines,generate electricity and reduce water and power shortage, provideirrigationwater to lower areas, provide drinking water in remote areas and bring outoveralldevelopment of the region.23
Environmental problems:The environmental impacts of big dams are also too many due to which veryoften big damsbecome an issue of controversy. The impacts can be at theupstream as well as downstreamlevels.Upstream problems:•Displacement of tribal people•Loss of forests, flora and fauna•Changes in fisheries and the spawning grounds•Siltation and sedimentation of reservoirs•Loss of non-forest land•Stagnation and water logging near reservoir•Breeding of vectors and spread of vector-borne diseases•Reservoir induced seismicity (RIS) causing earthquakes•Growth of aquatic weeds•Microclimatic change
Downstream impacts:•Water logging and salinity due to over irrigation•Micro-climatic changes•Reduced water flow and silt deposition river•Flash floods•Salt water intrusion at river mouth•Loss of land fertility along the river since the sediments carrying nutrientsget deposited inthe reservoir•Outbreak of vector-borne diseases like malariaThus dams are built to serve the society withmultiple uses, but it has severalserious side-effects. That it why now there is a shift towardsconstruction of small dams or min-hydel projects.
MINERAL RESOURCES:Minerals are naturallyoccurring, inorganic, crystalline solidshaving definitechemical composition andcharacteristic physical properties. Therearethousands of minerals occurring indifferent parts of the world. However, mostof the rocks, we see everyday are justcomposed of few common mineralslikequartz, feldspar, biotite etc. Theseminerals in turn are composed ofsomeelements like silicon, oxygen, iron etc.Minerals are generally used for development of industrial plants, generationof energy, construction, equipments and armament fordefence, transportationmeans, medical system, communication, jewellery- gold, silveretc.Environmental impacts of mineral extraction and use are devegetation anddefacing oflandscape, subsidence of land, groundwater contamination, surfacewater pollution, airpollution, occupational health hazards etc.Remedial measures include adoption of eco-friendly technology, microbialleaching technique, restoration of mined areas by re-vegetating them withappropriate plant species, stabilization of the mined lands, gradualrestoration of flora etc
FOOD RESOURCES:There are thousands of edible plants and animals over theworld out of whichonly about three dozen typesconstitute major food of humans. The mainfoodresources includewheat, rice, maize, potato, barley, oats etc. about twentyor socommon fruits and vegetables, milk, meat, fish andseafood.World food problems: Every year food problem iskilling as many people as werekilled by the atomic bombdropped on Hiroshima during World War II. Thisshowsthat there is drastic need to increase foodproduction, equitably distribute it andalso to controlpopulation growth. Although India is the third largestproducer of staple crops, an estimated 300 millionIndians are still undernourished. India hasonly half asmuch land as USA, but it has nearly three timespopulation to feed.Our food problems are directly relatedto population
ENERGY RESOURCES:Energy consumption of a nation is usually considered as an index of itsdevelopment. Thisis because almost all the development activities are directly or indirectly dependent uponenergy. There are wide disparities in per capita energyuse between developed and thedeveloping nations.The very original form of energy technology probably was thefire, whichproduced heat and the early man used it for cooking and heating purposes.Windand hydropower has also been used. Invention of steam engineers replacedtheburning of wood by coal and coal was further replaced by oil. The oil producinghavestarted twisting arms of the developed as well as developing countries bydictating theprices of oil and other petroleum products.Energy resources are primarily divided into twocategories viz. renewable andnon-renewable sources.Renewable energy resources must bepreferred over the non-renewableresources. This will seek to end the energy crisis whichthe world is facing today.It is inevitable truth that now there is an urgent need of thinkingin terms of alternative sources of energy, which are also termed as non-conventionalenergysources which include: 1. solar energy- made up equipments such has solarheatcollectors, solar cells, solar cooker, solar water heater, solar furnace, solar power plantsare must. 2. Wind energy 3. Hydropower, Tidal energy, ocean thermalenergy, geothermalenergy, biomass, biogas, biofuels etc.The non renewable energy sources includecoal, petroleum, natural gas, nuclear energy.
Land as a resource:Land is a finite and valuable resource uponwhich we depend for our food, fiber and fuelwood, the basic amenities of life. Soil is alsoa valuable resourceLand Degradation:Because of increasing of population growththe demands for arable land for producingfood and fuel wood is also increasing. Hencethere ismore and more pressure on thelimited land resources which aregettingdegraded due to over-exploitation. Soilerosion, water logging, salinizationandcontamination of the soil with industrialwastes like fly-ash, press mud or heavymetalsall cause degradation of land
EQUITABLE USE OF RESOURCES FOR SUSTAINABLE LIFE STYLEThere is a big divide in the world viz. North and South, more developed countries(MDCs)and Less Developed countries (LDCs), haves and have-nots.But this is observed that MDCshave only 22% of world’s population but they use88% of natural resources, 73% of energyand command 85% of income, in turnthey contribute very big proportion to its pollution.On the other hand LDCs havevery low or moderate industrial growth and have 78% ofworld’s population. Theyuse only 12% of natural resources, 27% of energy and have only15% of globalincome. The rich have gone richer and the poor have stead even poorer. Thereisa huge gap between those two worlds. This is not sustainable growth.The solution to thisproblem is to have more equitable distribution of resourcesand wealth. A globalconsensus has to be reached for balanced distribution.There are two major causes ofunsustainability.1. Over population in poor countries and2. Over consumption of resourcesby rich countries
EQUITABLE USE OF RESOURCESFOR SUSTAINABLE LIFE STYLEJUST SAY NO JUST SAY NO