Natural resources



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  • Natural resources
  • Natural resources are natural assets (raw materials) occurring in nature that can be used for economic production or consumption.
  • Such as
  • Water,
  • Air,
  • Soil,
  • Minerals,
  • Forest,
  • Wildlife
  • are all example of natural resources.
  • Natural resources are divided into two broad category:
  • Renewable resources: These resources have the capacity to regenerate themselves within a given span of time. For example plant and animal species have the capacity of reproduce so any loss due to natural or artificial causes can be replaced with the new one. Example of renewable resources are: Forest, wildlife, wind energy, tidal energy, solar energy, water energy etc.
  • Non-renewable resources: For these resources generation time is too long, for example production of coal, mineral oil, mineral ores takes several thousand years, so if they exploited on large scale its not easy to replace them. Example of non-renewable resources are: coal, petroleum, minerals etc.
  • However renewable resources can also turn into non-renewable resources if the rate of exploitation or consumption exceeds their rate of regeneration. Examples: ground water depletion, extinction of plants and animals, fertile soil , forest.
  • Major Natural resource:
  • Forest resource
  • Water resource
  • Mineral resource
  • Food resource
  • Energy resource
  • Land resource
  • Problem associated with natural resource:
  • Overexploitation: leads to depletion and degradation of natural resources. Example: fish catch, ground water, forest
  • Pollution: due to pollution resource usefulness reduces. Example: fresh water, soil
  • Forest resources:
  • Are most important resource in term of providing material goods along with ecological services.
  • Definitions:
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO):
  • forest which includes a minimum threshold for the height of trees (5 m), at least 10 per cent crown cover (canopy density deter mined by estimating the area of ground shaded by the crown of the trees) and a minimum forest area size (0.5 hectares).
  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC):
  • 0.01-1.0 hectares for minimum area, 2-5 meters for minimum tree height and 10-30 per cent for minimum crown cover.
  • MOEF:
  • Forest cover in India is defined as all lands, more than one hectare in area with a tree canopy density of more than 10%.
  • How Are Forests Classified
  • Climate:
  • Temperature (e.g. boreal, temperate, subtropical, tropical)
  • Moisture (rain forest, monsoon forests, dry forests)
  • Seasonality:
  • Deciduous vs. Evergreen
  • Leafing Strategy:
  • Broadleaved vs. Needle-leaved
  • In total 28 type of forest class
  • are present in the world.
  • Tropical forest : Asia, Australia,
  • South America, Africa, Pacific
  • Caribbean
  • Temperate: North America,
  • Western and Central Europe, NE Asia
  • Boreal: Eurasia, Siberia,
  • Forest cover in India:
  • The total forest cover of the country (2007 assessment) is 690,899 km2 and this constitutes 21.02 percent of the geographic area of the country.
  • Very Dense Forest (tree cover of canopy density of 70% and above), Moderately Dense Forest (tree cover of canopy density between 40% to 70%), Open forest (tree cover of canopy density between 10% to 40%), Scrub (tree cover of canopy less than 10%)
  • Uses of Forest Resource:
  • Forest resources are useful in term of goods (commercial and consumptive) and
  • environmental services:
  • Consumptive and commercial use:
  • Timber Extraction: Used for the construction, industrial uses, paper and pulp industry
  • etc. Japan is the largest timber importer in the world and is responsible for the deforestation in tropical and temperate forest.
  • Fuel wood and charcoal for heating and cooking purpose: Fuel wood still support the need of energy in rural part of India.
  • Fodder for cattle: India has the largest livestock population in the world, with 485 million head of livestock, many of them raised by small and marginal farmers who depend on grazing land to meet the fodder requirements of their animals.
  • Minor forest produce (NTFPs): Forest are also an important source of NTFPs which play an important role in the livelihoods and resilience of rural communities and in some of India’s poorest regions, NTFPs contribute up to 60 percent of household income.” NTFP included variety of items—animal products like hides, horns, silk cocoons, ivory; bamboo and about 3000 plant species even by official definition, including canes, drugs, spices, fibers, flosses, grasses, gums, resins and oleoresins, lac, tans, dyes, vegetable oils and oil seeds, leaves, minor minerals like mica, lime, shells etc., and edible items .
  • Environmental Services provided by Forest:
  • Production of oxygen: called as earth’s lungs. Produce oxygen during the photosynthesis process, which is vital for life on this earth.
  • Reducing global warming: green house gas CO2 is absorbed by forest as a raw material for the photosynthesis.
  • Wildlife habitat : Homes of million of wild animal and plant. Tropical forest alone host 7 million species.
  • Watershed Protection: reduce the rate of surface run-off of water, so prevent the flash flood and soil erosion and also ensure prolonged run-off so maintaining the water flow in streams and river.
  • Soil conservation: due to dense root mat in the forest system soil are strongly bind thus prevent their erosion due to wind or rain. In the costal areas mangroves protect land form erosion due to strong ocean current.
  • Pollution moderator: Forest have the capacity of absorbing toxic gases mainly VOCs and also can also absorb noise thus help in preventing air and noise pollution.
  • Aesthetic importance: Its lush green and pollution free environment make them a perfect tourist destination. Forests are now generating large amounts of revenue in various countries across the globe in response to the development of tourist industry.
  • Cultural and religious importance: Many of the tribal consider forests and its trees as abode of deities known as Sacred Grooves. They also worship trees and animals of forests. Thus, they are dependent on forests not only for their food and energy demands but also for the sustenance of their diverse cultural and religious beliefs. Example: Gumpa Forests in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Problem associated with the forest resource:
  • Over exploitation of forest resources:
  • Forest resource in India are over exploited due to which total forest cover area in India is lower than the required forest cover of 33%.
  • Very little Indian forest are pristine due to large scale human exploitation. Due to this exploitation tropical evergreen forest cover is now only reduced to Coastal western Ghat and Northeast India.
  • Major causes:
  • Increase in population: The population of India has grown from 361 million in 1951 to 846 million in 1991 and crossed the one billion mark on 11th May, 2000 and would grow further to 1.7 billion by 2050 as per the UN's long -range projections for India.
  • DECLINING PER CAPITA AVAILABILITY OF FOREST AREA IN INDIA:
  • As the per capita area of forest decrease it deplete resource much faster
  • Increase in urban and metropolis areas: As the number of city increase it increase the demand for the timber for construction and industrial purpose resulting into degradation of forest resource.
  • Increase pace of developmental project: After independence development projects such as road construction, Mining activity, thermal power plant were sanction in large number which also resulted into depletion of forest resource.
  • Deforestation:
  • Definition:
  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2001
  • defined as the direct human-induced conversion of forested land to non-forested land
  • Food and Agriculture Organization 2001
  • The conversion of forest to another land use or the long-term reduction of the tree canopy cover below the minimum 10 percent threshold.
  • Causes of deforestation:
  • Shifting cultivation: Shifting cultivation, also referred to as forest agrarian system, has been widely practiced by hill communities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America since the Neolithic period (13,000 to 3,000 BC). The practice is characterized by a cultivation phase, which involves clearing of primary or secondary forest and crop cultivation for one to three years, followed by a fallow phase, during which cultivation is suspended to allow recovery of soil fertility. In India this practice is common in North-east, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Growing Food needs: Conversion of forest land to agricultural land is major cause of deforestation in developing country.
  • Raw material for industrial use: with the increase in population demand for wood for making boxes, furniture, railway-sleeper, plywood, match-boxes, pulp for paper industry has increased.
  • Overgrazing: illegal grazing and overgrazing in forest tracks has also been primarily responsible for forest degradation in India. India's livestock population has increased from 228 million in 1951 to 336 million in 1992 and is projected to cross 500 million by the end of 2000.
  • Development projects: Massive destruction of forest occurs for various development projects such as hydroelectric projects, big dams, road construction and mining.
  • Major consequences of Deforestation:
  • Biodiversity loss: forest host large number of plant and animal and deforestation leads to their extinction due to habitat loss.
  • Loss of CO2 sink: due to deforestation the stored carbon in the forest released into atmosphere which further enhance the global warming problem.
  • Watershed depletion: due to loss of forest area, risk of flash flood increases, it also reduces the amount of ground water recharge their by reducing the amount of fresh water.
  • Problem of soil erosion and loss of soil fertility increases due to loss of forest area.
  • Case studies:
  • Desertification in Hilly regions of the Himalayas
  • Disappearing tea garden in Chhota Nagpur
  • Waning rainfall in Udhagamandalam (Ooty)
  • Forest (conservation) Act,1980
  • This act was formulated to check indiscriminate dereservation and diversion of forest land to non- forest purpose. The main point in this act:
  • Prior permission from central government before any forest land is diverted to
  • non-forest purpose.
  • If diversion is permitted, compensatory afforestation is insisted upon. If non-forest land is available then afforestation be raised over equivalent area of non forest land. In case of non-aviability of non-forest land plantation will be done degraded forest twice in extent of diverted land.
  • Amendment in 1988 for including stricter panel provision against violators
  • Joint Forest Management (JFM):
  • National forest policy of 1988 formulated the JFM, where local village community and the forest department work in co-ordination to protect and conserve forest resource. In the guideline issued in 2000 by MOEF, at least 25% of income from the area must go to the community . Until 2002, there were 63,618 JFM committees managing over 140,953sq km of forest in 27 state in India.
  • Social forestry: It includes
  • Creation of woodlots in the village common land, government waste land and panchayat land (estimated at least 12 mha)
  • Planting trees on the side of roads, canals and railways (1mha)
  • Afforestation of degraded government forest in close proximity to village (10mha)
  • Planting of trees on and around agricultural boundaries and on marginal, private lands, constituting farm forestry, or agro-forestry(143 mha).


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