Concept: Our Natural Resources
What are natural resources?
- The resources available in nature that can be harnessed and used directly or indirectly after being converted into other forms are called natural resources.
- The important natural resources are as follows—
- Natural resources are essential for the survival and continuity of life on Earth.
- They are harnessed, extracted, or converted into forms suitable for use.
- Crude oil is purified for obtaining products like petroleum and kerosene.
- Wind energy is harnessed through windmills for conversion into electricity.
Classification of natural resources:
Natural resources can be classified based on their state and origin.
- Based on the state, natural resources can be classified as—
- Based on the origin, natural resources are classified as—
- Renewable resources: The resources that are inexhaustible and can be used repeatedly are called renewable resources.
- Non-Renewable resources:The exhaustible resources that cannot be used again once consumed are called non-renewable resources.
Examples: Wind energy, solar energy, tidal energy, etc.
Examples: Coal, petroleum, and natural gas.
Water as a natural resource:
- Water covers almost 70% of the Earth’s surface.
- Water is vital for the existence of every living form on Earth.
- Water is widely used in industries and agricultural activities besides supporting life.
- Water is a renewable source of energy. Nowadays, advanced methods and technologies are used to recycle water, which aims to conserve water.
- Freshwater is available in a minimal amount on Earth; hence, it is necessary to use water judiciously and prevent it from getting contaminated with pollutants.
Air as a natural resource:
- Air surrounds the Earth in the form of the atmosphere, which makes the existence of life possible on Earth.
- Air contains life-supporting gases like oxygen and carbon dioxide, which animals and plants use.
- Moving air is called wind.
- The energy of wind is harnessed to produce electrical energy.
- Wind energy is a renewable form of energy.
Soil as a natural resource:
- Soil supports the growth of plants which are said to be the ultimate producers.
- Being at the base of the food chain, plants, directly and indirectly, provide food to all types of consumers on Earth.
- Soil also serves as the habitat of many microorganisms.
- Apart from these, the soil is the reservoir for many minerals and rocks which are exploited for commercial use.
Forest as a natural resource:
- A large area of land covered with trees is considered a forest.
- Forest covers 30% of the land on Earth.
- Forests can be divided into the following categories based on their distance from the Equator.
- Tropical forests:
- These are closest to the Equator and do not experience winters.
- The temperature and humidity in these forests are high because they receive direct sunlight.
- So the rate of decomposition in these forests is high, making the soil extremely fertile.
- They receive high rainfall and are home to many plant and animal species.
- The main plants found in these forests are palms, orchids, ferns, mosses, etc.
- Temperate forests are located between the tropical and boreal forests.
- They receive a considerable amount of rainfall and experience all four seasons.
- One can find oak, maple, and birch trees in temperate forests.
- Animals found in these forests are adapted to sustain cold winters.
- These forests are located farthest from the Equator.
- They experience short summers and long winters.
- The main trees in boreal forests are deodar, pine, and oak.
Resources we get from forests:
Apart from being a home to a large number of animals and plants, forests provide a large number of resources that are used directly or indirectly in our daily lives.
- Honey is used both in cooking food and preparing medicines. Apiculture is practised in places adjacent to forests. The forests have many flower-bearing plants, providing ample space for the bees to gather nectar.
- Fruits and mushrooms:
- Though fruits and mushrooms can be harvested via agricultural practices, they are also collected from the forests in a considerable amount.
- People residing in forests use them for food and sell them to earn money.
- Timber and wood products:
- Forests are a major source of timber and other types of woods.
- Timber is used as a raw material in both small and large-scale industries.
- Wood collected from the forest is majorly used for building houses and furniture.
- Wood pulp:
- The primary raw material used for the production of paper is wood pulp.
- Humans depend on forests to obtain wood pulp for making papers.
- A wide variety of trees and herbs that grow in forests has a significant role in synthesising medicines.
- Barks, roots, stems, leaves, and flowers of various plants are used for medicinal purposes.
- People in rural areas depend on the forest for collecting firewood that they use for cooking.
- Small plants and grasses in the forests are collected to use as fodder for animals.
- Wide different varieties of grass are found in forests.
- It is also called ‘poor man’s timber’.
- Bamboo is widely used for making stilt houses in flood-prone areas.
- Also, bamboo leaves and stems are used for making baskets, flooring materials, and mats.
- Tribal people depend on the products made from bamboo plants for their livelihood.
- Forests provide around 2 lakh tonnes of dyes and tannins every year.
- A wide variety of flowers found in the forests are used as raw materials for producing dyes.
Supplements: A concentrated form of nutrients.
Equator: An imaginary line that divides Earth into two equal halves—Northern and Southern hemispheres.
Apiculture: The occupation of owning and breeding bees for collecting their honey; also called beekeeping.
Did You Know?
- Forests are also called the ‘lungs’ of our planet because they maintain oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
- 80% of the plant and animal species on Earth are found in forests. Cutting down trees forces some animal species to migrate to other places, and eventually, disappear.