A resource represents a source of supply or support generally held in reserve. Natural resources refer to all those products provided by nature which man can make more valuable and useful and capable of supporting life and satisfying human needs. According to the definition recognized by the United Nations in its study on the subject, a natural resource is anything found man is his natural environment that he may in some way utilize for his own benefit.
Natural resources have been the base for initial economic development. As science and technology advance, capital and labor could become substitutes for land and other natural resources, but never entirely so, even in development of less development countries. Natural role in the influence the economic structure of a country, as the type of resources available, their quantity and distribution in a region determine the type and state of industries to be development.
Kinds of Natural Resources: we can classify natural resources as follows: I) Renewable or non-exhaustible natural resources are those resources that can be renewed with their exploitation such as forests, wild life, water, natural pastures etc. II) Nonrenewable or Exhaustible Natural Resources cannot be renewed with their exploitation such as mineral ores, fossil fuels etc.
With the growing consciousness of environment conservation, the efficient use of resources has become important even for developing countries. In the circumstances it is of utmost importance to increase our developmental efforts do explore for new resources, device technologies to minimize waste and conserve non-renewable resources, search for less resource-intensive goods and services for use.
Renewable or Non-Exhaustible Resources
Natural Vegetation: Natural Vegetation is the vegetation or plant cover on its original state without significant modification by man. It is result of climate soil and biotic influences acting in combination. The natural vegetation in India has seen a great biotic change through centuries. Depletion of vegetation occurs due to destruction of forest lands owing to indiscriminate felling and forest fire. Overgrazing, too, has been an important cause.
Forest Resources: Forests are important natural renewable natural resource. Forests cover 40% of world’s land. This nears about 1/3rdof world’s land area. India has rich flora and fauna, much of which is present in forest areas. Forests are dominated by trees. About 19.47 percent of the total area of 752.3 lakhs hectares constitutes the forest land in India. About the fifth of the forest area is, however inaccessible. About 57% is found in the plateau and peninsular hills, 18 percent in the Himalayas, 1% in the Sahyadris and the nearby coasts and an equal percentage in the Eastern Ghats and their coastal areas. Only about 5 percent of forest cover is seen in the plains of the north. Uses of forests: Forests are of utmost importance in the ecological system of the country. Forests play very important roe on the earth as they are the complete ecosystem in their-self. Forests provide us basic necessities of life, even by technological development and scientific techniques man has developed many alternate resources of wood e.g., plastic lead pencils instead of wood lead pencils. But these alternate sources do not totally replace the wood and even the present day, the need of timber in increasing. Timber is used as the basic material for construction and furnishing houses and officers, manufacture of railway sleepers, wooden boxes for packing purposes and so on. Thus forests are part and parcel of man.
Some of the important roles of forests are: 1) Forests provide food in the form of roots, tubers, leaves and fruits especially for tribal. 2) Forests provide fuel in the form of wood for cooking and keeping warm. More than 80% of total fuel used is wood. 3) Forests provide timber for building houses, bridges, doors, windows, furniture, railway sleeper’s poles, ships, sports goods, agricultural tools, toys etc. 4) Forests moderate the climate and reduce the extremes of temperature. By regulating, the humidity in the atmosphere, they resuce the Uncertainty of Rainfall. 5) Forests produce oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis for aerobic respiration in animals. 6) They prevent soil erosion, regulate water flow in streams and reservoirs and thus check the intensity of floods. 7) Forest also contributes in a substantial manner to the Indian economy by making a available a number of major and minor forest products. The major products includes timber, pulp, charcoal wood, fire wood, round wood and match wood which is largely derived from the forests of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Jammu & Kashmir. The minor forest products are came, bamboo, many types of grasses and fodder, kendu leaves, lac, resins, guns, tanning and dyeing materials.