Natural Resources Types, Renewable and Non-renewable Resources

Unit 2: Natural Resources Types: Renewable and Non-renewable Resources (8 lectures)

Environmental Studies Notes For BA, B.Com and BSC CBCS Pattern

– Land resources: land use change; land degradation, soil erosion and desertification

– Forest resources: Deforestation: Causes and impacts due to mining, Construction of big dams and their effects on forests and people.

– Water resources: Use and over-exploitation of surface and ground water, floods, droughts, conflicts over water (international & inter-state: Indo-China, Indo-Bangladesh, Cauvery disputes).

– Energy resources: Renewable and non-renewable energy sources, use of alternate energy sources, growing energy needs, case studies – coal mining, crude oil extraction.


natural resources types

Meaning of Natural Resources

Any material which can be transformed in a way that it becomes more valuable and useful can be termed as resource. In other words, it is possible to obtain valuable items from any resources. Similarly, nature gives us a large number of things and services from which we obtain valuable items. Such things and services which are provided by the nature, are known as Natural Resources. Water, air, soil, minerals, coal, forests, crops and wild life are all examples of natural resources. Natural resources can be broadly classified into two categories:

a) Renewable resources

Renewable resources are resources that are in-exhaustive and can be regenerated within a given span of time e.g. Crops, solar energy, forest, wildlife etc. Such resources are being continuously consumed by living beings but renewed by nature.

Examples of renewable resources:

– Crops

– Solar Energy

– Forest

– Wildlife

– Wind Energy

– Ground Water

– Products of lakes such as fresh water, fish, black bass, catfish.

– Products of Oceans such as marine fish, marine mammals

– Human Resources

– Soil

b) Non-renewable resources

Non-renewable resources are resources that which cannot be regenerated by nature after being consumed. Such resources are available only in finite quantities e.g. fossil fuel like coal, petroleum, minerals like iron, copper etc.

Examples of non-renewable resources:

– Fossils fuel like Natural gas, coal, petroleum etc.

– Minerals like Copper, iron, zinc etc.

– Nuclear energy etc.

Difference between Renewables resources and Non-renewable resources

Basis of difference

Renewable Resources

Non-renewable resources


Renewable resources are resources that are in-exhaustive and can be regenerated within a given span of time.

Non-renewable resources are resources that which cannot be regenerated by nature after being consumed.


Renewable resources mainly includes solar energy, wind, water etc.

Non-renewable resources mainly includes fossil fuels, minerals, nuclear energy etc.


These resources are inexhaustible in nature.

These resources are exhaustible in nature.


These resources cannot be depleted over time.

 These resources are depleted over time.

Natural Resources Types

Natural resources are further classified into the following types:

a) Land resources.

b) Forest resources.

c) Water resources.

d) Mineral resources.

e) Food resources.

f) Energy resources.

a) Land resources

Land resource is the most important natural resource which is essential for survival of life on earth. We depend on land for our basic amenities of life such as food, fibre, fuel, home etc. Land is a finite and most valuable resource as compared to other natural resource. The top layer of the earth is called the soil. Soil can be classified as a renewable resource because it is continuously regenerated by natural process thought at a slow rate. But when the rete of erosion of soil is faster than the normal rate of renewable of soil, then the soil becomes a non-renewable resource.

Types of Land resources in India

The total geographical area of India is about 329 million hectares, but statistical information regarding land classification is available for only about 305 million hectares. Various types of land in India are given below:

a) Barren Land: 13% of the total reporting land area of our country is mountains, deserts, ravines and hills which cannot be used for cultivation. Barren land also includes those land which are left uncultivated for at least 5 years.

b) Forest land area: 22% of the total reporting land area of our country is covered by forests. Areas under forests includes all land classified as forests by law or administered as forests, whether state owned or private, and whether wooded or maintained as potential forest land.

c) Pastures and Grazing Land: 4% of the total land area of our country is classified as permanent pastures. Such lands are used for cattle grazing.

d) Culturable waste land: Culturable Waste Land comprises land available for cultivation, either taken up or just not taken up once for harvesting, but not harvested over the last five years more than in sequence, including that of the current year. In India percentage of the Culturable waste land is 4.41%.

e) Fallow Lands: These are cultivable & cultivated lands but remain uncultivated or fallow during a given year. Fallow land means land that is not cropped and kept cultivated throughout a growing season and has a vegetative cover of less than 25 percent. Fallow lands are classified into current fallows and other fallows lands. Current fallows represent cropped areas which are kept fallow during the current year, for example the seeding are may not be cropped in the same year. Other fallow lands are temporarily out of cultivation for a period not less than one year and not more than 5 years.

f) Agricultural lands: Out of the total land area of 329 million hectares, only 199 million i.e., 60% percent hectares are presently used for agricultural activities.

Soil Erosion – Meaning, Types, Causes and Conservation

Soil Erosion Meaning

Soil erosion is a naturally occurring process that affects all landforms. It is the removal of the top fertile layer of the soil. In other words, it is the displacement of the upper layer of soil due to water and wind. Soil erosion by water and wind is the most common and extensive form of soil erosion. The loss of soil from farmlands may be reflected in reduced crop production, lower surface water quality and damaged drainage networks. Intensive agriculture, deforestation and climate change are the most significant factors responsible for soil erosion. Due to soil erosion, one third of the world’s total cropland is eroded.

Types of Soil Erosion

1. Normal erosion: This is caused by the gradual removal of top soil by natural processes which bring an equilibrium between physical, biological and hydrological activities and maintain a natural balance between erosion and renewal.

2. Accelerated erosion: This is mainly caused by man mad activities such as overgrazing, deforestation, mining etc.

Causes of soil erosion

1.    Loss of top soil: Loss of top soil due to wind and water.

2.    Deforestation: Deforestation for agriculture is the main cause of soil erosion. Due to high population in our country, deforestation is going at a rapid speed.

3.   Water Logging: Accumulation of excess water under the ground.

4.   Salinization: It is the accumulation of soluble salts of sodium, magnesium and calcium in soil to the extent that soil fertility is severely affected.

5.   Overgrazing: Overgrazing by cattle can cause soil erosion.

Checking/Conservation of Land resources

Land resources can be conserve by taking the following steps:

1. Soil erosion can be minimized by Afforestation in the hilly slopes.

2. Use of pesticides and fertilizers should be banned and organic fertilizers should be encouraged.

3. Proper disposal of industrial waste is a must.

4. Cultivation of tradition crops variety in a region should be encouraged.

5. Alley cropping helps in reducing soil erosion. In such cropping, crops are planted between rows of trees or shrubs.

6. Planting of trees in long rows along the cultivated land boundary so that strong winds can be blocked.

Desertification – Meaning, Causes and Effects

Desertification Meaning

Desertification is a type of land degradation in which a relatively dry area of land becomes increasingly arid, typically losing its water bodies as well as vegetation and wildlife. It is caused by climate change and soil erosion. When deserts appear automatically over the natural course of an Earth’s life cycle, then it can be called a natural phenomenon. Desertification is a significant global ecological and environmental problem. The UNO Conference on Desertification has defined it as “the destruction of the biological potential of land and can lead ultimately to desert like

Causes of Desertification

a) Mismanagement of forests

b) Overgrazing by cattle

c) Mining and quarrying.

d) Deforestation.

e) Climate Change

f) Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides.

g) Stripping the land of resources.

Effects of Desertification

a) Farming becomes next to impossible in such lands.

b) Decrease in crop yields which can lead to high inflation and hunger problem.

c) If an area becomes a desert, the water quality is going to become worst.

d) Reduction in crops and poor water quality leads to poverty like situation.

e) Migration of people from such areas for better life leads to over population and unemployment in other areas.

Environmental Studies  MCQs  Multiple Choice Questions and Answers

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Environmental Studies  Chapterwise  Notes

Unit 1: Introduction to Environmental Studies

Unit 2: Ecosystems

Unit 3: Natural Resources: Types, Renewable and Non-renewable Resources

Unit 4: Biodiversity and Conservation (Available in DTS App – Only for Members)

Unit 5: Environmental Pollution

Unit 6: Social Issues and the Environment

Unit 7: Environmental Policies & Practices

Unit 8: Human Communities and the Environment

Unit 9: Field work

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Land Degradation – Meaning, Causes and Effects

Land Degradation Meaning

Land degradation takes place when land use exceeds the carrying capacity of a system. It is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human induced processes acting upon the land.

Houghton and Chairman defines land degradation “It encompass soil degradation and the deterioration of natural landscape and vegetation”.

Human induced degradation includes the adverse effects of overgrazing, erosion, urbanization, disposal of industrial wastes, road construction, decline of plant communities and pollution of the air with its effects on land.

During the last few decades, there has been tremendous pressure on land in India due to increase in population. As urban centers grow and industrial expansion occurs, the agricultural land and forests shrink.

Causes of land degradation

a) Soil erosion: Loss of top soil due to water and wind.

b) Water Logging: Accumulation of excess water under the ground.

c) Salinization: It is the accumulation of soluble salts of sodium, magnesium and calcium in soil to the extent that soil fertility is severely affected.

d) Contamination of soil with industrial waste like heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizers etc.

e) Overgrazing: Increase in livestock population results in overgrazing in pastures land.

f) Desertification: Desertification is a type of land degradation in which a relatively dry area of land becomes increasingly arid, typically losing its water bodies as well as vegetation and wildlife.

Effects of land degradation

a) Deterioration of Soil texture.

b) Loss of soil fertility.

c) Accelerated soil erosion by wind and water.

d) Increased vulnerability of the environment or people to destruction or crisis.

e) Increase in water logging, salinity and acidity problems.

f) Affects social, economic and biodiversity level.

Forest Resource – Meaning and Uses

Forest Resources Meaning

Forest is important renewable resources. Forest vary in composition and diversity and can contribute substantially to the economic development of any country if the areas under them is used properly. Plants along with trees cover large areas, produce variety of products and provide food for living organisms, and also important to save the environment.

It is estimated that about 31% of world area is covered by forest whereas 20% to 40% by pastures. Among all continents, Africa has largest forested area (33%) followed by Latin America (25%), whereas in North America forest cover is only 11%. Asia and former USSR has 14% area under forest. European countries have only 3% area under forest cover. India’s Forest Cover accounts for 24.6% of the total geographical area of the country as of 2021.

Uses of forests Resources

Forest can provide prosperity of human being and to the nations. Important uses of forest are as under:

a) Forests plays an important role in the lives of tribal. It provides food, shelter and other essentials to them.

b) Forest land can be used for agriculture and mining.

c) Forest help in reducing global warming.

d) Forest reduce pollution by absorbing toxic gases.

e) Forest provide food, fruits, edible oils raw materials and medicine raw materials.

f) Forest is important source of development of dams, recreation and mining.

g) The green forests produce oxygen by photosynthesis which is very vital for life on earth.

h) The forests give shelter to millions of life forms starting from the insects to the huge wild animals.

i) It retards soil erosion.

j) It regulates local climatic condition and hydrological cycle.

Deforestation and Afforestation

Deforestation Meaning

Deforestation implies the destruction or over-utilisation of forests by different means, such as construction of road, building and damns etc., extension of farm lands, extension of urbanisation, collecting firewood, collecting timber for different commercial and household purposes, exploring mines etc.

Thus deforestation is the major cause of environmental damages. It causes shortage of oxygen and increases carbon-di-oxide in the atmosphere. As a result, the atmosphere becomes warmer and inadequate for an easy life of all living being. Moreover, deforestation cause the topsoil to be loosen and it becomes so delicate as to be washed away by rain water which in return causes flood by increasing the water content and by depositing soil in the river beds. Thus, on one hand in rainy season, deforestation is the major cause of flood and on the other side at winter it is the root cause sandy storm.

Afforestation Meaning

Afforestation is the act or process of establishing a forest especially on land not previously forested or deserted land. Afforestation is just the opposite of deforestation. It is the primary solution of environmental damages. It retards all the negative effects of deforestation. By afforestation there are chances of shifting a desert into greenery field. Afforestation should be moto of both government and individuals so we can say that if deforestation is the way to untimely death, afforestation is the venture to come back therefrom and to live a long and healthy life.

Causes of deforestation

a) Conversion from forest to agricultural land to meet the growing food needs.

b) Infrastructure development like roads, bridges, industries etc.

c) Encroachment by illegal immigrants.

d) Illegal extraction of forest products like timbers.

e) Increased population has lead to increasing demand for fuel wood which is also acting as an important deforestation agent, particularly in dry forest.

f) Forest provides raw material for industry and it has exerted tremendous pressure on forest.

g) Urbanisation of forests for the settlement of increased population.

h) Fire in forests due to voidable and unavoidable reason.

i) Jhum cultivation which is considered as shifting cultivation.

i) Mining

Effects of Deforestation

Deforestation can have a negative impact on the environment. The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of species. Eighty percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes. Deforestation also drives climate change. Deforestation adversely and directly affects and damages the environment and living beings. Major causes of deforestation are:

a) Soil erosion and loss of soil fertility

b) Decrease of rain fall due to effects of hydrological cycle.

c) Expansion of deserts.

d) Climate change and depletion of water table

e) Loss of biodiversity, flora and fauna.

f) Environmental changes and disturbance in forest ecosystems.

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