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Chapter - 2

Natural Resources
• Natural resources are naturally occurring resources
in the environment, which exist in their natural
• Human beings use the Natural resources for their
survival, shelter, comfort etc…
Some examples of natural resources include the
• Wind, plants, animals, water, land, soil, fossil fuels,
rock, minerals etc…
• Renewable Resources: Resources that can be replenished or
reproduced easily, which are continuously available and their
quantity is not affected by human consumption. Ex: Sunlight, air,
wind, agricultural crops, water, forests etc… Metals are also
considered as renewable resources, because they are not
destroyed during their extraction and use and can be recycled.
• Non-renewable Resources: Resources which cannot be
produced, re-grown, regenerated, or reused on a scale which can
sustain its consumption rate, because their formation takes
billions of years. These resources often exist in a fixed amount, or
are consumed much faster than nature can recreate them. Ex:
Fossil fuel (such as coal, petroleum and natural gas) and nuclear
Forest Resources
• Forests are important components of our environment
and economy. It constitute as an important renewable
natural resource.
• Forests contribute substantially to the economic
development of the country by providing goods and
services to the people and industry.
• They also play an important role in enhancing the
quality of environment by influencing the life
supporting system.
• The chief product that forest supply is wood, which is
over exploited now a days and used as fuel and raw
material in some industries.
• Wood is used in the production of pulp, paper, boards,
furniture, sports materials etc…
• Forests also supply minor forest products like gums,
resins, dyes, tanners, fiber, condiments, honey,
medicines etc…
• India has a very rich heritage of flora and fauna.
• Forest are also major factors of environmental
concern in providing protection to wild life,
balancing the gaseous cycles and atmosphere.
• Forests tend to increase local rainfall, water holding
capacity of soil, maintain the soil fertility, regulate
the earth temperature, water cycle, check soil
erosion, land slides and reduce the flood havoc.
• Forests serves as gene reservoirs of important species and
have aesthetic and touristic values.
• About 1/3rd of the world’s land surface is covered with
• It forms about 4028 mn hectares (about 10,000 mn acres)
in the world.
• Increasing human population has escalated the use of
natural resources.
• Over exploitation of resources also occurs when a
commercial market develops for a previously
unexploited or locally used species or products.
• Growing rural poverty and the globalization of the
economy combine to exploit species to the point of
• Deforestation is cutting Earth's forests on a massive scale, often
resulting in damage to the quality of the land and environment.
• Deforestation problem rises due to logging operations, which
provide the world with wood and paper products, urbanization is
also responsible for cutting of countless trees each year.
• Not all deforestation is intentional. Some is caused by natural
factors like wildfires and subsequent overgrazing by wild
animals, which may prevent the growth of young trees.
• The most dramatic impact is the loss of habitat for millions of
• 70% of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many
of them cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their
• Devastating effect of deforestation in India include soil, water
& wind erosion estimated to cost over 16,400 crs every year.
• According to UNEP 1987, about 29 crore hectares of land has
been deforested in the World on an average.
• India is losing about 6000 million tons of top soil annually due
to water erosion.
• India, today is poorest in the world as percapita forest land is
concerned, it is about 0.10 hectare compared to the world avg
of 1 hectare, Canada-14.2 ha, Australia-7.6 ha and USA 7.3 ha.
• Indian forests comprise only 0.50 % of the world forest area.
• India is losing about 1.5 million hectares of forest cover each
year, if this trend continues, in the next 20 yrs or so we may
reach zero forest value in the country.
Timber extraction, mining, dams & their
effects on forests & tribal people
• Population explosion has its tremendous pressure on
demand for goods & services in our country.
• In India firewood demand would continue to rise in
rural areas and for industrial purposes.
• Paper and newsprint industry also consume much of
our wood and percapita consumption of paper is
likely to increase form 2 kg to 4.5 kg.
• For paper & board bamboos and hard wood are the
chief source, about 87.5% wood is needed for
firewood, about 10.5% for timber and only 2% for
• The process of obtaining minerals from Earth’s crust
is called mining, mining involves large scale
removal of earth.
• Area which is to be mined is made free of all types of
vegetation, leaving hundreds of Kms of area as
waste land.
• Mining releases large amount of dust into the
atmosphere which causes severe health problems.
• After mining the area gives barren look which is
called Ghost town.
• Equally major demand on forests is the susceptibility of
water supply, all water regimes of the country are in forest
• Catchments and water sheds are to be managed for
regulated water yield by manipulation of forest cover, flood
control and water quality.
• The impact caused by construction of dams and reservoirs
include changes in micro climate like loss of vegetal cover,
soil erosion, variation in water table and enhanced seismic
activities due to pressure of water.
• The nature and magnitude of the impacts vary with the
projects locations and the conditions therein.
Water resources
• Water resources are sources of water that are useful or
potentially useful to humans.
• Uses of water include agricultural, industrial,
household, recreational and environmental activities.
Virtually all of these human uses require fresh water.
• 97% of water on the Earth is salt water, leaving only
3% as fresh water of which slightly over 2/3rd is frozen
in glaciers and polar ice caps. The remaining unfrozen
freshwater is mainly found in rivers and as groundwater.
• Water demand already exceeds supply in many parts of
the world and as the world population continues to rise,
so does the water demand.
Surface water
• Surface water refers to water occurring in lakes, rivers, streams,
or other fresh water sources.
• Surface flow in our country takes place through 14 major rivers,
Brahmani, Brahmaputra, Cauvery, Ganga, Godavari, Indus,
Krishna, Mahanadi, Mahi, Narmada, Perriar, Sabarmati,
Subarnarekha and Tapi.
• Between them they share 85% of the surface flow and house
80% of the total population.
• Apart from them, there are 44 medium and 55 minor river
systems, these are fast flowing monsoon fed and originate in the
coastal mountains of the major rivers, Brahmaputra, ganga and
indus basins along with godavari covering more than 50% of
the country.
• Groundwater refers to any subsurface water that
has accumulated under the earth’s surface.
• Scientists estimate that groundwater makes up
95% of all freshwater available.
• It is formed due to seepage of rain water down the
• Our ground water resources are abundant only in
the northern and coastal plains.
Uses of water
• Domestic use

• Agricultural use

• Industrial use

• In Stream use
Preparedness for disasters - floods
• Floods are temporary inundation of large regions as a result of an
increase in reservoir or of rivers flooding their banks.
• Floods occur due to heavy rains, high winds, cyclones, storm surge
along coast, tsunami, melting snow, levee failure or dam bursts.
Flash Flood:
• A flood that rises rapidly, with little or no advance warning, is
typically called a flash flood, it is due to intense rainfall or the
failure of a dam or levee, flash flood may take only minutes or
hours, making flash floods particularly dangerous.
• They can destroy bridges, severely damage buildings, move
boulders, wash away automobiles and cause land slides.
• Two key elements contribute to the conditions known as flash
flooding – rainfall intensity(slow moving storms) and duration.
Flood watches and warnings
• Flood watch means a flood is possible in your area, be
prepared to act quickly and move to higher grounds if needed.
• Put your furniture, valuables, business and important
documents in a waterproof container, get your pre-assembled
emergency supplies ready and finally make sure that your
vehicle’s fuel tank is filled in case an evacuation notice is
• Flood warning means flooding is already occuring or will
occur soon in your area.
• Be alert to signs of flooding, evacuate quickly to higher
ground and listen to weather radio or local radio or T.V
stations for recommended evacuation routes.
• Flash flood watch means that flash flooding is possible in your
area. Be alert to signs of flooding and be ready to evacuate on
a moments notice.

• Flash flood warning means a flash flood is already accruing or

will occur very soon in your area. Evacuate immediately. You
might only have seconds to escape. Move to higher ground
away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains and be sure
not to drive around barricades. If your car stalls in rapidly
rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher
Responding to floods
• Floods are caused by heavy rainfall associated with
severe storms or melting snow and ice.
Stay alert and informed:
• Know your area’s flood risk.
• There is a possibility of flooding if it has been raining
heavily for several hours or steadily for several days.
• Be alert if unusually warm weather occurs after a snowy
period or an extended period of cold weather.
• Listen to your local radio or TV stations for flood
When a flood watch is issued

• Flooding is possible in your area.

• Be prepared to act quickly and move to higher
• If possible shift furniture, valuables and equipment to
a higher floor of your home.
• Place important documents in waterproof containers,
get emergency supplies ready and fill your vehicle’s
fuel tank.
When a flood warning is issued
• Flooding is already occuring or will occur soon in your area.
• You might need to evacuate quickly to higher ground.
• Listen to weather radio or local radio or T.V stations for
recommended evacuation routes.
• If you are driving and come upon rapidly rising waters, turn
around and take another route.

When a flash flood watch is issued

• Conditions are in place that could cause rapid and
dangerous flooding in your area.
• Be alert to signs of flooding and be ready to evacuate at a
moments notice.
When a flash flood warning is issued
• Water is rapidly rising and is flooding your area or will be
• Evacuate immediately you might have only seconds to
• More quickly to higher ground away from rivers, streams,
creek and storm drains.
• If you are driving and come upon rapidly rising waters, turn
around and find another route.
• If your vehicle stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it
immediately and climb to higher grounds.
Flood control
• It refers to all methods used to reduce or prevent the
detrimental effects of flood waters.
• Flood control methods include planting vegetation, terracing
hillsides to slow the flow downhill, and the construction of
• Other techniques include the construction of levees, dikes,
dams, reservoirs or retention ponds to hold extra water during
times of flooding.

Construction of engineered structures

• Buildings should be constructed away from water bodies and
should be constructed on an elevated area.
Benefits of dams
• Dams were traditionally built to impound rivers and
rain water that could be used later to irrigate
agricultural fields.
• Today dams are built not just for irrigation but for
electricity generation, water storage, flood control,
recreation, inland navigation and fish breeding.
• Dams are now referred to as multi-purpose projects
wherein many uses of impounded water are
integrated with one another. Ex, Bhakra Nangal,
Hirakud etc…
Problems caused by dams
• Sedimentation brought about by the rivers are deposited each
• Fast-flowing streams have the capacity to erode and transport
soil, sand, gravel and stones. When this fast flowing stream
enters a calm reservoir, this solid material is deposited.
• Sedimentation result in the reduction of nutrients, this leads to
reduction in the planktons.
• Reduction in plankton further leads to falling population of
• Very high rate of soil salinity reduces the agricultural
• There will be considerable increase in the incidence of
Mineral resources
• According to geologists minerals can be defined as
homogenous, naturally occuring substance with
definable internal structure.
• They are as hard as diamond and as soft as talc, they are
varied due to different conditions of their formation
within earth.
• Some rocks contain a single mineral like limestone,
sandstone, while others consists of several minerals in
varying proportions.
• Minerals are classified into two types based on their
properties as: 1) Metallic Minerals, 2) Non Metallic
Use and exploitation
• Minerals are used as raw materials in many industries.
• Rapid industrialization requires more amount of minerals
like iron, copper, bauxite, manganese, zinc, tin etc…
• Urbanization leads lot of building constructions which
needs limestone, marble, granite, iron etc…
• All the above mentioned minerals were not formed in few
years, it takes millions of years for these minerals to form.
• Industrialization is fast picking up with growing technology
and development.
• Minerals provide raw materials to almost all the
manufacturing industries.
Food resources
World food problems:

• In the beginning of twentieth century the world

population was 1.6 billion, in 1960 it was 3 billion, in
1999 it raised to 6 billion and now in 2014 it has
reached 7.2 billion.
• As the population grows the need for food and other
basic resources will increase, which leads to short fall of
• The point of concern is that the per capita consumption
of resources is much higher in developed countries than
in developing countries.
Changes caused by agriculture and over grazing
Agricultural causes:
• Many activities associated with agriculture are not
environment friendly, some affect directly and others affect
• Cutting forests and removing weeds to prepare the soil for
plantations, continuous use of pesticides and insecticides etc…
Changes due to over grazing:
• As the size of live stock increases, the perennial grasses and
biotic soil crusts are consumed and trampled.
• The consequences of all these changes is lowered water
availability in soil and it becomes harder for plants to establish
in the compaction eroded and drier soil.
Effects of modern agriculture,
fertilizers-pesticides problems
• Every year farmers have to fight with the pests, insects
and diseases, this increases the use of fertilizers and
• They are used to get large harvest from the fields, at the
same time it is degrading the environmental quality.
• Around 70,000 pesticides are used worldwide which are
carried by wind and water to distant places and capable
of becoming toxic.
• Pesticides become part of the food chain and are
transported form one organism to another thus affecting
the whole environment.
Water logging and salinity
• Since independence there has been increase in net irrigated area
of the country.
• Though there has been a phenomenal growth in irrigation
potential, it has not given return in terms of yield or money
commensurate with the investment, added to these are the
problems of water logging and salinity.
• In punjab the seepage from unlined canals raised the water table
by 7-10 meters above the previous level.
• It is estimated that fertility between 30-80% of the world
irrigated land has been affected due to salinization.
• In high rainfall area of Assam, Bihar, M.P, Orissa, W.B, and kerala
canal water is difficult to manage during rainy season, water
logging and salinity are the major outcome of poor drainage in
area with massive irrigation projects.
Based on previous slide, following conclusion could be drawn:
• Benefit from canal irrigation can be sustained in low
rainfall areas for the first 15-20 yrs and there after occur
water logging and salinity.
• Canal distributaries and field canal are to be lined.
• Water needs proper management at the farm level for
regular and timely supplies.
• Proper land leveling to increase water use efficiency.
• A critical review of the extent and nature of irrigation in
high rainfall area.
Energy resources
Growing energy needs:
• Increasing population leads to increasing consumption
of energy, there exists a great disparity in the distribution
of energy in the world.
• Sun provides energy to earth and all the living organisms
on the earth depend on that energy.
• New technologies should be looked for renewable
sources of energy, which has been underutilized.
• Energy is also locked in coal and oil which are used by
man to generate energy, energy resources may be
exhaustible or inexhaustible.
Inexhaustible energy resources:
These are biomass based and available in unlimited
amount in nature and these can be renewed over short
period of time.
Ex: all non-conventional sources of energy like solar,
water, geothermal, wind, tidal, forests etc…

Exhaustible energy resources:

These resources are used only once and after that
they cannot be reproduced.
Ex: it includes all non-living elements of the earth like
coal, petroleum, natural gas, uranium etc…
Land resources
• Land is an important component of the life support
system as well as every primary production system such
as roads, industries, homes and storage for surface and
ground water etc…
• Out of limited land available to man, efforts are made in
order to get large amount of food from agriculture, place
to live and for industries in the process more fields are
created out of forest land.
• Every year thousands of people migrate from villages to
the cities, slums, therefore, develop in every city specially
in the developing countries.
• Improper use of land destroys the eco system like clearing of
forests for agriculture causes soil erosion. Unfortunately land
has been over used and even abused over the countries.
• In a predominantly agricultural country like ours land comes
• Careless use damages soil that results into reduction in
quality, quantity of wood land, grass land, crop land, soil
erosion, degradation of land, water sheds and catchments,
deforestation and desertification.
• Proper land use protects the environment, maximum land
should be under forest cover, it not only cleans the air but also
checks soil erosion besides providing numerous things as
Land degradation
• Land degradation is a concept in which the value of the
biophysical environment is affected by one or more
combination of human-induced processes acting upon
the land.
• The causes of land degradation are
– Land clearance, such as clear cutting and deforestation
– Agricultural depletion of soil nutrients through poor farming
– Livestock including overgrazing
– Accelerated soil erosion by wind and water
– Urban sprawl and commercial development
– Land pollution including industrial waste
– Quarrying of stone, sand, ore and minerals
• In India of the total 329 Mha of land it is estimated that
only266 Mha poses potential for production, of this land 143 is
agriculture land and it is estimated that 85 Mha suffers from
reaming degrades of soil degradation, of the remain 123 Mha,
40 Mha are completely unproductive.
• The balance 83 Mha is classified as forest land of which over
half is denuded to various degrees.
• Recent data suggests that 13 crore hectares of land has become
degraded of this land degradations, 28 % by deforesters, 57 %
by water, 10 % by wind and rest 5 % by salt and alkaline
Soil erosion and desertification
• Soil erosion has many adverse impacts like desertification and
occurrence of floods. Gullies and ravines are formed which make
the area undulating and this is unsinkable for the human
• Overgrazing leads to duplication of pasture lands, landslides are
most destructive impact of soil erosion, it sweeps the whole area
by razing all the vegetation and human structures.
Role of individuals and equitable use of resources for sustainable
life styles:
• People should understand that earth does not have infinite
• Efforts must be made to reuse the resources which can interlink
the environmental conservation and economic development.