Classification of Natural Resources

Natural Resources:

Materials that occur in nature under different environmental conditions are termed natural resources. They are valuable in their natural form and their value is determined by the amount of material that can be extracted from them and the demand for the same. A commodity is usually considered a natural resource when the key activities associated with it are extraction and purification in contrast to manufacturing. Thus, quarrying, extraction, fishing, and forestry are referred to as natural-resource industries, whereas agronomy is not.

Classification of Natural Resources:

The natural resources can be classified on the basis of the following parameters:

1. On the basis of origin:

    i. Biotic Natural Resources: Biotic natural resources are obtained from the biosphere either in raw form or through cultivation. For example, fossil fuels, agricultural products fruits, wax, etc. Petroleum having an organic origin is a biotic resource.

    ii. Abiotic Natural Resources: These resources are procured from land, water, and minerals and are non-living. Air, water, land, gold, diamond, silver, bauxite, nickel, copper, iron ore, zinc, lead, sulfur, chromites, talc, marble, limestone, platinum, vanadium, salt, sand, gravel, etc. are all abiotic resources.

2. Based on the degree to which they are developing/processing:

    i. Currently used resources: Those resources which are presently used for human use. For example, coal and petroleum.

    ii. Potential resources: These include untouched and untapped resources for future use. Hydrogen is one such resource.

3. On the basis of regeneration ability or continual supply:

    i. Renewable Resources: They are resources that can be recycled or resources that can be replenished quickly through the natural cycle. For example, solar radiation, wind energy, water energy, biomass energy, agricultural products, forests, wildlife, etc. If they are consumed at a rate exceeding their natural rate of replacement, the stock will eventually run out.

    ii. Non-Renewable Resources: The resources which can’t be replenished or are replenished very slowly are non-renewable resources. They can be:

    Recyclable: These resources can be collected after use and recycled. For example, aluminum and other metals after being used are collected and recycled.

    Non-recyclable: These resources can’t be recycled in any way. For example, coal, oil, and natural gas.

4. Based on physical existence:

    i. Tangible Resources: A tangible resource is something that is physical in as much as we can touch or feel it. Coal and iron ore for example are tangible resources.

    ii. Non-Tangible Resources: A non-tangible resource is something that can’t be felt. The goodwill of a company or its brand value is an example of a non-tangible resource.