Classification of the natural resources.

Natural resources are materials and components (something that can be used) that can be found within the environment. Every man-made product is composed of natural resources (at its fundamental level). A natural resource may exist as a separate entity such as fresh water, and air, as well as a living organism such as a fish, or it may exist in an alternate form which must be processed to obtain the resource such as metal ores, oil, and most forms of energy.

There is much debate worldwide over natural resource allocations, this is partly due to increasing scarcity (depletion of resources) but also because the exportation of natural resources is the basis for many economies (particularly for developed nations such as Australia).

Some natural resources such as sunlight and air can be found everywhere, and are known as ubiquitous resources. However, most resources only occur in small sporadic areas, and are referred to as localized resources. There are very few resources that are considered inexhaustible (will not run out in foreseeable future) – these are solar radiation, geothermal energy, and air (though access to clean air may not be). The vast majority of resources are exhaustible, which means they have a finite quantity, and can be depleted if managed improperly.

There are various methods of categorizing natural resources, these include source of origin, stage of development, and by their renewability. These classifications are described below. On the basis of origin, resources may be divided into:

Biotic – Biotic resources are obtained from the biosphere (living and organic material), such as forests and animals, and the materials that can be obtained from them. Fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum are also included in this category because they are formed from decayed organic matter.

Abiotic – Abiotic resources are those that come from non-living, non-organic material. Examples of abiotic resources include land, fresh water, air and heavy metals including ores such as gold, iron, copper, silver, etc.

Considering their stage of development, natural resources may be referred to in the following ways:

Potential resources – Potential resources are those that exist in a region and may be used in the future. For example petroleum occurs with sedimentary rocks in various regions, but until the time it is actually drilled out and put into use, it remains a potential resource.

Actual resources – Actual resources 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.

Reserve resources – The part of an actual resource which can be developed profitably in the future is called a reserve resource.

Stock resources – Stock resources are those that have been surveyed but cannot be used by organisms due to lack of technology. For example: hydrogen.

Renewability is a very popular topic and many natural resources can be categorized as either renewable or non-renewable:

Renewable resources – Renewable resources can be replenished naturally. Some of these resources, like sunlight, air, wind, etc., are continuously available and their quantity is not noticeably affected by human consumption. Though many renewable resources do not have such a rapid recovery rate, these resources are susceptible to depletion by over-use. Resources from a human use perspective are classified as renewable only so long as the rate of replenishment/recovery exceeds that of the rate of consumption.

Non-renewable resources – Non-renewable resources either form slowly or do not naturally form in the environment. Minerals are the most common resource included in this category. By the human perspective, resources are non-renewable when their rate of consumption exceeds the rate of replenishment/recovery; a good example of this are fossil fuels, which are in this category because their rate of formation is extremely slow (potentially millions of years), meaning they are considered non-renewable. Some resources actually naturally deplete in amount without human interference, the most notable of these being radio-active elements such as uranium, which naturally decay into heavy metals. Of these, the metallic minerals can be re-used by recycling them, but coal and petroleum cannot be recycled.

Mineral fuels are the minerals that are produced out of the Earth interior. About 200 mineral fuel and raw materials are used in the modern economy. Their classifications can be different. There is classification on the base of the technological resources’ use. There are fuel, metallic, technological and building resources.

Classification of resources


Earth is a universal natural resource;branch of the human economic activity (for example, industry, transport, agriculture and animal husbandry) can’t be existing without it. Land resources have some peculiarities in comparison with other kinds of natural resources. First of all, it is impossible to transfer them. Secondly, resources are exhaustible and bordered upon definite territory (district, country, etc.). Thirdly, at the definite time, some parcel of land can be occupied by building, tillage or pasture in spite of the wide multipurpose character of usage.

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