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INTRODUCTION

Natural resources (economically referred to as land or raw materials) occur


naturally within environments that exist relatively undisturbed by mankind, in
a natural form. A natural resource is often characterized by amounts
of biodiversity existent in various ecosystems.

Natural resources are derived from the environment. Many of them are essential
for our survival while others are used for satisfying our wants. Natural resources
are further classified into groups such as:

Actual resources - Actual resources are those resources whose quantity is


known. These resources are being used in the present. The rich deposits of coal
in Ruhr region of Germany and petroleum in West Asia, the dark soils of Deccan
plateau in Maharashtra are all actual resources.
Potential Resources - Potential Resources are those resources whose entire
quantity may not be known and these are not being used at present. These
resources could be used in the future. The level of technology we have at present
may not be advanced enough to easily utilize these resources. Uranium found in
Ladakh is an example of potential resource that could be used in future. High
speed winds were potential resources two hundred years ago. Today they are an
actual resource and wind farms generate energy using windmills like in
Netherlands.

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 formed from decayed organic matter.

Abiotic - Abiotic resources include non-living things. Examples include land,


water, air and ores such as gold, iron, copper, silver etc.

Renewable – Renewable resources are those resources are those which get
renewed or replenished quickly. Some of these are unlimited and are not affected
by human activities such as solar and wind energy. Yet careless use of some
resources like water, soil and forest can affect their stock.

Non-renewable – Non-renewable resources are those which have limited stock.


Once the stocks are exhausted it may take thousands of years to be renewed or
replenished. Coal, petroleum and natural gas are some examples.

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Ubiquitous – Resources that are found everywhere are called ubiquitous
resources. Example – air we breathe.

Localized – the resources which are found only in certain places are localized,
like copper and iron ore.

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DEPLETION OF NATURAL RESOURCES:
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Resource depletion is an economic term referring to the exhaustion of raw


materials within a region. Resources are commonly divided between renewable
resources and non-renewable resources. Use of either of these forms of
resources beyond their rate of replacement is considered to be resource
depletion.

Resource depletion is most commonly used in reference to


the farming, fishing, mining, and fossil fuels.

Causes of resource depletion

 Excessive or unnecessary use of resources


 Non-equitable distribution of resources
 Overpopulation
 Slash and burn agricultural practices, currently occurring in
many developing countries
 Technological and industrial development
 Erosion
 Irrigation
 Mining for oil and minerals
 drainage of wetlands
 forestry

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Minerals and oil

Today’s economy is largely based on fossil fuels, minerals and oil. The value
increases because of the large demand, but the supply is decreasing. This has
resulted in more efforts to drill and search other territories. The environment is
being abused and this depletion of resources is one way of showing the affects.
Mining still pollutes the environment, only on a larger scale.

Deforestation

Deforestation is the clearing of natural forests by logging or burning of trees and


plants in a forested area.[3] As a result of deforestation, presently about one half
of the forests that once covered the Earth have been destroyed.[4]

Environmental impact Because deforestation is so extensive, it has made


several significant impacts on the environment, including carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere, changing the water cycle, an increase in soil erosion, and a
decrease in biodiversity. Deforestation is often cited as a cause of global
warming. Because trees and plants remove carbon dioxide and emit oxygen into
the atmosphere, the reduction of forests contributes to about 12% of
anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.[7] Trees transfer water from the ground
to the atmosphere through their roots, and deforestation reduces the amount of
water in the soil and in the atmosphere.[8] One of the most pressing issues that
deforestation creates is soil erosion. The removal of trees causes higher rates of
erosion, increasing risks of landslides, which is a direct threat to many people
living close to deforested areas.1 As forests get destroyed, so does the habitat
for millions of animals. It is estimated that 80% of the world’s known biodiversity
lives in the rainforests, and the destruction of these rainforests is accelerating
extinction at an alarming rate.

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Controlling Deforestation Efforts to control deforestation must be taken on a
global scale. Organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank have
started to create programs like Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and
Forest Degradation (REDD) that works especially with developing countries to
use subsidies or other incentives to encourage citizens to use the forest in a
more sustainable way.

Wetlands

A wetland is a term used to describe areas that are \often saturated by enough
surface or groundwater to sustain vegetation that is usually adapted to saturated
soil conditions, such as cattails, bulrushes, red maples, wild rice, blackberries,
cranberries, and peat moss.

Years ago people assumed wetlands were useless so it was not a large concern
when they were being dug up. Many people want to use them for developing
homes etc. On the other side of the argument people believe the wetlands are a
vital source for other life forms and a part of the life cycle.

The losses of coastal wetlands resulted from dredging for marinas, canals, port
development, and, to some extent, from natural shoreline erosion. The
conversion of wetlands causes the loss of natural pollutant sinks. The dramatic
decline in wetlands globally suggests not only loss of habitat but also diminished
water quality.

Erosion

Erosion is the process in which the materials of the Earth's crust are worn and
carried away by wind, water, and other natural forces.

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deforestation has allowed water and wind greater opportunity to erode the soil.
Changes in river flow human activity have dramatically shifted the runoff
patterns of water and the sediment load of rivers that deposit into lakes and
oceans. Erosion has become a problem in much of the world in areas that are
over farmed or where topsoil cannot be protected.

Agricultural lands are the main source of eroded soil. Demands on the Earth to
feed growing populations and changes in the Earth's landscape caused by human
activities have speeded up soil erosion. Soil erosion has increased to the point
where it far exceeds the natural formation of new soil, and experts consider the
problem to be of epidemic proportions.

Notes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_depletion

CONSERVATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES


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Conservation is an ethic of resource use, allocation, and protection. Its primary


focus is upon maintaining the health of the natural world: its, fisheries, habitats,
and biological diversity.
Secondary focus is on materials conservation and energy conservation, which are
seen as important to protect the natural world. Those who follow the
conservation ethic and, especially, those who advocate or work toward
conservation goals are termed conservationists.

Since industrial revolution we have been exploiting natural resources for


betterment of life but now we have realized that mindless excavation for
minerals, deforestation, and use of chemicals in farming has led to global
warming. Use of fossil fuels has polluted the air we breathe.

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To protect life forms on earth it is necessary to stop pollution of air, water and
soil. For that we have to make investments in research and development of
alternative /renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, Hydro and tidal.
By using solar energy we have started generating electricity, water heating and
driving automobiles. To take advantage of wind energy in coastal area Wind
farms are raised that produce electricity with wind turbines. We are also thinking
to harness tidal energy for generating electricity. Curtailing the use of fertilizers,
insecticides in farming for soil and water conservation, use of bio-gas for
cooking, reducing the use of paper etc. are some initiatives that are taken for
conservation of resources.

The government of India has setup many natural parks, wildlife sanctuaries and
bio-reserves to protect these natural resources. There are 13 bio-reserves spread
across India. Of them, only three have been recognized by UNESCO: Nilgiri in the
Tamilnadu-Karnataka-Kerala border, Nanda Devi in Uttar Pradesh and Gulf of
Mannar in Tamilnadu. India has 89 national parks and 489 wildlife sanctuaries. In
total, India has 578 protected areas covering nearly 154,572 square kilometers.
BIORESERVES

Biosphere Reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems which are
internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere
(MAB) Programme. These reserves are required to meet a minimal set of criteria
and adhere to a minimal set of conditions before being admitted to the World
Network of Biosphere Reserve designated by UNESCO for inclusion in the World
Network of Biosphere Reserves. The world’s major ecosystem types and
landscapes are represented in this network, which is devoted to conserving
biological diversity, promoting research and monitoring as well as seeking to
provide models of sustainable development in the service of humankind.

Each biosphere reserve is intended to fulfill 3 basic functions, which are


complementary and mutually reinforcing:

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-a conservation function - to contribute to the conservation of landscapes,
ecosystems, species and genetic variation;

-a development function - to foster economic and human development which is


socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable;

-a logistic function - to provide support for research, monitoring, education and


information exchange related to local, national and global issues of conservation
and development

The origin of Biosphere Reserves goes back to the "Biosphere Conference"


organized by UNESCO in 1968. This was the 1st intergovernmental conference
examining how to reconcile the conservation and use of natural resources,
thereby foreshadowing the present-day notion of sustainable development. This
Conference resulted in the launching of the UNESCO "Man and the Biosphere"
(MAB) Programme in 1970. One of the original MAB projects consisted in
establishing a coordinated World Network of sites representing the main
ecosystems of the planet in which genetic resources would be protected, and
where research on ecosystems as well as monitoring and training work could be
carried out. These sites were named as "Biosphere Reserves", in reference to the
MAB programme itself

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NATIONAL PARKS

A national park is a reserve of natural or semi-natural land, declared or owned


by a government, set aside for human recreation and enjoyment, animal and
environmental protection and restricted from most development.

An international organization, the International Union for Conservation of


Nature (IUCN), and its World Commission on Protected Areas, has defined
National Parks as its category II type of protected areas. The largest
national park in the world meeting the IUCN definition is the Northeast Greenland
National Park, which was established in 1974. According to the IUCN, there are
about 7000 national parks worldwide.

Depending on the area and terrain, National Parks provide ample opportunities to
the visitors to have a close encounters with the wilds. But what is so exquisite
about the Indian National Parks is the variance that they are equipped with.
Whether it comes to the flora, avifauna, and aquafauna, or witnessing various
wild forms in their natural surroundings.

Some of the best jewels of Indian wilderness include


1. The Great Himalayan National Park,
2. Dachigam National Park near Srinagar,

3. Jim Corbett National Park in Uttar Pradesh, which is also a famous tiger
reserve, named after the hunter turned conservationist Jim Corbett who played a
key role in its establishment—is the oldest national park in India. The park was
established in 1936 as Hailey National Park. Situated in Nainital
district of Uttarakhand the park acts as a protected area for the critically
endangered Bengal tiger of India. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_National_Park

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Desert National Park, Rajasthan, India, is situated in the west Indian state of
Rajasthan near the town of Jaisalmer. This is one of the largest national parks,
covering an area of 3162 km². The Desert National Park is an excellent example
of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert. Despite a fragile ecosystem there exists an
abundance of birdlife. The region is a haven for migratory and resident birds of
the desert. The Desert National Park has a collection of fossils of animals and
plants of 180 million years old. Some fossils of Dinosaurs of 6 million years old
have been found in the area. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_National_Park

4. Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan,


5. Sundarbans National Park in West Bengal is a National Park, Tiger
Reserve, UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve located in
the Sundarbans delta in the Indian state of West Bengal. This region is densely
covered by mangrove forests .
6. Kaziranga national park in Assam.

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WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES

A wildlife refuge, also called a wildlife sanctuary, may be a naturally-occurring


sanctuary, such as an island, that provides protection for
species from hunting, predation or competition, or it may refer to a protected
area, a geographic territory within which wildlife is protected. Such wildlife
refuges are generally officially designated territories, created by
government legislation, though the land itself may be publicly or privately
owned.
India is home to several fabulous wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. The
wildlife sanctuaries in India are home to around two thousand different species of
birds, 3500 species of mammals, nearly 30000 different kinds of insects and
more than 15000 varieties of plants. Travelers from all across the globe come to
India to take a look at its rich wildlife and natural vegetation. There are 441
wildlife sanctuaries in India, covering nearly 4.5% of the total geographical area
of the country. Among these, the 28 Tiger Reserves are governed by Project
Tiger, and are of special significance in the conservation of the tiger. The Kanha
National Park in Madhya Pradesh is one of the largest tiger reserves of India.

Bird sanctuaries:
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The wildlife sanctuaries of India also include the bird sanctuaries, like the one
at Bharatpur in Madhya Pradesh. The different species of birds that one can find
over here is truly fascinating. Great Indian bustard, Himalayan monal pheasant,
lammergiers, choughs, white-bellied sea eagle, white breasted swiftlet, fruit
pigeons and griffon vultures are just some of the bird species that you can get to
see here.

Some wildlife sanctuaries are specifically named Bird Sanctuary, eg. Keoladeo
National Park before attained National Park status. Many National Parks were
initially Wildlife Sanctuaries. Wildlife sanctuaries of national importance to
conservation, usually due to some flagship faunal species, are named National
Wildlife Sanctuary, like:

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National Chambal Sanctuary is a wildlife sanctuary near Etawah in Uttar
Pradesh,India. It was founded in 1979 and constitutes a large eco-reserve co-
administered by the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. It is
also called theNational Chambal (Gharial) Wlidlife Sanctuary.

About 400 km of the Chambal river cuts picturesque ravines through the reserve,
which covers 5,400 sq.km. In earlier times, the labyrinthine ravines were under
the sway of a tradition of banditry by colourful figures like Man
Singh and Phoolan Devi. The last notable dacoit, Nirbhay Gujjar was killed in
2005. Today a tourist lodge and other facilities promote eco-tourism.

CONCLUSION

Natural resources are a gift which nature has provided us. Therefore it becomes our duty to
use these resources in an efficient manner. There are mainly two types of natural resources –
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renewable and non renewable resources. The renewable resources get replenished or renewed
quickly and are not affected by human activities. On the other hand non-renewable resources do
not get replenished once their stock is over. We must use these non-renewable natural sources of
energy like coal, petroleum etc carefully so that their stock is not exhausted. Moreover the
excessive use of fossil fuels have polluted the air we breathe. To stop further degradation of
environment we must make advances for alternative renewable sources of energy like solar,
wind, tidal and hydro energy.

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