Classification of Natural Resources

In this article, I have explained natural resources, classification of natural resources, and types of natural resources in understandable details with plain English.

The earth is the only planet that has successfully sustained life for many centuries. This might be as a result of the various materials and services the earth has that have made survival possible in it. These materials are able to support the existence of various life forms. These materials are referred to as natural resources.

Classification of Natural Resources
Forest – Natural Resource

What are Natural Resources ?

Natural resources can, therefore, be said to be those materials; known or unknown to man, which have been provided by nature or came into existence through natural processes and are useful for sustenance on earth. In this definition, we are considering.natural resources from the human perspective.

Natural resources are widely distributed across nations. Some have them in abundance while others have a few of them. A good understanding of natural resources makes for proper management of these resources wherever they are found. They are resources because they can be harnessed and used directly, converted into other usable forms or monetarized.

Classification of Natural Resources

Natural resources are classified basically under only three categories. Namely:

  1. Classification based on origin
  2. Classification based on availability
  3. Classification based on level of development

Classification of Natural Resources Based On Origin

Here, we have biotic and abiotic resources.
  • Biotic Resources: The word ‘bio’ means life. Biotic resources are those natural resources that have life in them snd originate from living organisms. Examples include all species of plants and animals, microorganisms, fossil fuels, etc.
  • Abiotic Resources: These are resources that have no life in them or originate from non-living things. Examples include water, air, soil, rocks, minerals, etc.

Classification of Natural Resources Based On Availability

Here, we have renewable and non-renewable resources.
  • Renewable Resources: These are natural resources that can be replenished. The rate at which they can be replenished exceeds the rate at which they are being used up. Thus, they are always available. Examples include solar energy, water, wind, etc
  • Non-renewable Resources: Resources in this category are limited and can be exhausted. Their formation takes millions of years. Examples include fossil fuels, coal, rare species of organisms.

Classification of Natural Resources Based On Development

Here, we have the potential, reserved, stock, and actual resources.

  • Potential Resources: These are resources that are known to exist, have not been quantified and can be used for future use. For instance, wind energy exists in certain areas but has not been used to generate energy.
    Example: Wind, nuclear minerals.
  • Reserved Resources: They are natural resources that have been identified and quantified but have not been harnessed because they are being reserved for future use.
    Example: Rivers.
  • Stock Resources: These are resources that have been discovered, quantified but have not been harnessed due to insufficient technologies.
    Example: Hydrogen.
  • Actual Resources: These are resources that have been discovered, quantified, harnessed, and are being used.
    Examples: Crude oil, forest.

This is a concise basic classification of natural resources. All natural resources both known and unknown must fall into one of these classes and subsequently under any of the subclasses.

Natural resources are very important to man and his survival as they serve as a safety net for people of different localities and are a great source of income to nations all over the world. They provide different raw materials for men.

Types of Natural Resources

There is a huge difference between the classification of natural resources and types of natural resources and you have to understand this to be able to differentiate between both.
Crude oil, trees, coal, natural gas, forests, rocks, oceans, air, sunlight, soil, etc are typical examples of types of natural resources. Any organic or inorganic material provided by nature that is used by humans is regarded as a natural resource.
Every natural resource type is found under the three main classifications of natural resources,
For example, under the classification of natural resources based on development, crude oil is a type of actual resource. This way, every other natural resource you hear of, must fall under one of the classifications. This is the major difference between types of natural resources and classifications of natural resources.


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