Natural resources are naturally occurring entities that exist undisturbed by man-kind, in its own natural form. A natural resource is characterized by extent of biodiversity and geodiversity in various ecosystems. Natural resources are substance derived from the environment. These are substances or material that can be found within the environment.
Natural resources of various types, they can be listed by various methods include source of origin, development stage, and their renewability. The list of natural resources are:
Biotic - Biotic are the resources that are obtained from the living and organic material like forests and animals and the materials that can be obtained from them. Coal and petroleum are fossil fuels that are included in this category as they are formed from decayed organic matter.
Abiotic - These are resources that come from non-living and inorganic material. Examples of abiotic resources are land, water, air and metals that include gold, copper, silver, iron, etc.
With respect to their stage of development, natural resources can be referred in the following ways:
Potential resources - these resources exist in a region that may of use in the future. Example of potential resources include petroleum, sedimentary rocks, until these resources are extracted they remain a potential source.
Actual resources are those that have been surveyed and whose quantity and quality determined and are being used.
Reserve resources - These are part of an actual resource which can be developed profitably in the future and is known as reserve resource.
Stock resources - These are resources are those that have been surveyed but cannot be used due to lack of technology.
Natural resources can be categorized as renewable or non-renewable:
Renewable resources - Renewable resources are natural entities that can be renewed naturally. Some resources like sunlight, water, air, wind, etc are available continuously and their quantity is not affected by human consumption. Many renewable resources do not have rapid recovery rate and they may deplete due to over-use.
Non-renewable resources - These are natural resources that either form slowly or do not form naturally in the environment. Minerals are a type of non-renewable resources. Resources are said to be non-renewable when their rate of consumption exceeds the rate of recovery. A good example of non-renewable sources are fossil fuels because the rate of formation is extremely slow. Some minerals can be re-used by recycling them, but fossil fuels like coal and pertoleum cannot be recycled.
Extraction of natural resources involves the withdrawal of resources from nature. The process of extraction can scale from traditional use to global industries. Extraction of resources produces raw materials which are of more value when processed. Examples of such industries are mining, oil drilling, gas drilling, forestry, hunting and trapping. Natural resources add to country's wealth and in less-developed countries they can be a large growing activity.
Depletion of natural resources is considered as a development issue. It is of concern as it is a sustainable development issue can negative impact the current environment and also can impact the needs of future generations. Depletion of natural resources can also be connected to social injustice. Most of the biodiversity are located in developing countries. The depletion of natural resources is caused by activities like mining, extraction of petroleum, fishing, forestry; certain causes like demography, politics, economy, society and technology are also reasons for depletion of natural resources. The present agricultural practice is another factor for depletion of natural resources as current agriculture practices deprive soil of nutrition due to excessive usage of nitrogen and desertification. The depletion is a constant concern for the society.
Environmental protection is to protect the natural environment and natural resources. The World Charter for Nature is developed by the UN to need to protect nature from depletion due to human activity. Measures need to be taken at all level of the society to protect nature. There are outlines for the sustabinable use of natural resources and suggest that protection of resources should be incorporated into the law system.