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Natural resource

Management of natural resource

Need to manage natural resources

Types of natural resources

Exhaustible (or non-renewable) resources

Inexhaustible (or renewable) resources

Sustainable development

3Rs for conservation of resources




Forest and wildlife

Stakeholders in forest and wildlife


Early attitude of government towards conservation of forests

Local people and forest conservation

Case of khejri tree

Nomadic herders of himalayas

Chipko movement

Arabari’s example of people’s participation in forest management

Water as natural resource

Advantages of ground water over open surface water

Ancient water storage and irrigation methods


Problems due to dams

Water harvesting

Khadins of Rajasthan

Kulhs in Himachal Pradesh

Advantages of traditional water harvesting techniques

Coal and petroleum natural resource

Pollution caused due to burning of fossil fuels

Minimising the use of fossil fuels



Natural Resource

Anything in the nature which can be used is called natural resource.

Management of Natural Resource

A system of controlling the use of natural resources in such a way as to avoid their wastage and to use them in the most effective way is called Management of Natural Resources.

Need to Manage Natural Resources

  1. Resources of the earth are limited. Due to rapid increase in population demand for natural resources is increasing. The proper management can ensure that the resources are used judiciously, so that they can fulfill the needs of present generation and also last for generations to come.

  2. Proper management of resources will lead to long term perspective and will prevent over exploitation for short term goals.

  3. Proper management will lead to equitable distribution of natural resources so that all the people get benefited from the development.

  4. Proper management will also ensure that minimum or no damage is caused to the environment during extraction or use of these resources. For example we should plan for the safe disposal of wastes.

Types of Natural Resources

Natural resources can be broadly categorized into two types, viz. exhaustible and non-exhaustible.

Exhaustible (or Non-renewable) Resources

Resources of which exist in a finite or limited quantity are called exhaustible resources. This means that if we extract this resource at a constant rate, it will be run out, for example mineral resources.

Inexhaustible (or Renewable) Resources

Inexhaustible resources are those resources which are present in unlimited quantity in nature and those resources which do not get exhausted or depleted by human activities. Inexhaustible resources are also known as renewable resources. These include air, clay sand, water and solar energy.

Sustainable Development

The development which meets the current basic requirements and also preserves the resources for the needs of future generations is called sustainable development.

3Rs for Conservation of Resources


This means that we use less. For example we can save electricity by switching off unnecessary lights and fans, we can save water by repairing leaky taps and we should avoid wasting food.


In the ‘reuse’ strategy, we simply use things again and again. Instead of throwing away used envelopes, you can reverse it and use it again. The plastic bottles in which you buy various food-items like jam or pickle can be used for storing things in the kitchen.


This means that we collect plastic, paper, glass and metal items and recycle these materials to make required things instead of synthesising or extracting fresh plastic, paper, glass or metal. In order to recycle, we first need to segregate our wastes so that the material that can be recycled is not dumped along with other wastes.

Forest and Wildlife

Forests are ‘biodiversity hot spots’, because a large number and range of different life forms (bacteria, fungi, ferns, flowering plants, nematodes, insects, birds, reptiles and so on) are found in them.

Conservation of forests and wildlife is necessary to protect the biodiversity. This is important because loss of biodiversity leads to ecological imbalance.

Stakeholders in Forests and Wildlife

Any person with interest or concern in something is called stakeholder.

Any conservation effort for forest and wildlife must keep the interests of all stakeholders in mind.

The stakeholders who are directly or indirectly affected by forest are,


Silviculture is the process of tending, harvesting and regenerating a forest.

Early Attitude of Government Towards Forest Management

Before the beginning of the colonial rule in India, forest dwellers were free to utilize the resources from forests as they wished.

Things changed when the British rulers took over the control of the forests in India. They restricted the access of forest dwellers to forest resources.

After the independence of India, the forest department took over but the interests of forest dwellers continued to be ignored for a long time. The forest was cut to obtain timber for making railways and for various construction activities. The cleared forest was replaced by planting eucalyptus trees which led to the problem of monoculture. Growing a single species is called monoculture. It disturbs the biodiversity of an area.

Local People and Forest Conservation

There are many examples which suggest that involvement of local communities is necessary for any conservation effort.

Case of Khejri Tree

The Bishnoi community of Rajasthan is one such example. Amrita Devi Bishnoi is still remembered with reverence for the way she fought for protecting the khejri trees in Khejrali village. She; along with 363 other people, sacrificed her life for the protection of khejri trees in 1731. The ‘Amrita Devi Bishnoi National Award for Wildlife Conservation’ has been named in her honour.

Nomadic Herders of Himalayas

The nomadic herders used to graze their animals near the great Himalayan National Park. Every summer, the nomadic people brought their herds down the valley so that the sheep could get plenty of grass to eat.

When the National Park was made in that area, the nomadic herders were stopped from grazing their sheep in the protected area.

Now, in the absence of grazing by the sheep, the grasses grow very tall in the region. Tall grasses fall over and prevent fresh growth of grass.

This shows that by excluding and alienating the local people from forests, proper conservation efforts cannot be carried out.

Chipko Movement

The Chipko Movement began in the early 1980s from a small village, Reni in Garhwal district. The women of the village began hugging the trees to prevent the cutting of trees by the contractors. This movement later spread to other parts of India. It has been instrumental in stopping deforestation to a large extent.

Arabari’s Example of People’s Participation in Forest Management

Arabari sal forest lies in Midnapore district of West Bengal. Before 1972, the forest department was not allowing participation of local people. The earlier methods of policing and surveillance were a total failure as they often led to frequent clashes with local people. It also led to alienation of people from the conservation programme.

A forest officer; named A K Banerjee involved the local people in the revival of 1,272 hectares of forest. In lieu of that the villagers were given employment in silviculture and harvest and were given 25% of the harvest. They were also allowed to gather firewood and fodder against a nominal payment. Due to active participation of the local community there was remarkable revival of the Arabari sal forest.

Water Natural Resource

Water is a basic necessity for all terrestrial forms of life.

Rainfall pattern in India is not uniform in all the regions.

Rains in India are largely due to the monsoons. This means that most of the rain falls in a few months of the year.

Advantages of ground water over open surface water

Due to following factors the availability of underground water has gone down in recent times,

Ancient Water Storage and Irrigation Methods

Irrigation methods like dams, tanks and canals have been used in various parts of India since ancient times.

These were small and generally managed by local people and assured that the basic minimum requirements for both agriculture and daily needs were met throughout the year.

The use of this stored water was strictly regulated and the optimum cropping patterns based on the water availability were arrived at on the basis of decades/centuries of experience.

The maintenance of these irrigation systems was also a local affair,

Later, the government also increasingly took over the administration of these systems leading to the loss of control of the local people over the local water sources.


Problems due to dams

Dams have been associated with following problems,

Water Harvesting

Watering harvesting means capturing rain water where it falls and capturing the runoff from catchment and streams etc. and collection of rain water. This collected water could be stored for later use and recharged into the ground water again.

Water harvesting is an age-old concept in India. Some examples which are still in use are,

Khadin of Rajasthan

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A khadin is an ingenious construction designed to harvest surface runoff water for agriculture in Rajasthan. Its main feature is a very long (100-300 m) earthen embankment built across the lower hill slopes lying below gravelly uplands. Sluices and spillways allow excess water to drain off. The water-saturated land is used for crop production.

Kulhs in Himachal Pradesh

Parts of Himachal Pradesh had evolved a local system of canal irrigation called kulhs over four hundred years ago. The water flowing in the streams was diverted into man-made channels which took this water to numerous villages down the hillside.

The management of the water flowing in these kulhs was by common agreement among all the villages. During the planting season, water was first used by the village farthest away from the source of the kulh, then by villages progressively higher up. These kulhs were managed by two or three people who were paid by the villagers.

In addition to irrigation, water from these kulhs also percolated into the soil and fed springs at various points. After the kulhs were taken over by the Irrigation Department, most of them became defunct and there is no amicable sharing of water as before.

Advantages of Traditional Water Harvesting Techniques

Coal and Petroleum Natural Resource

Coal and petroleum are fossil fuels and the main energy resources for us.

Coal and petroleum were formed from the degradation of bio-mass millions of years ago and hence these resources will be exhausted in the future no matter how carefully we use them.

It is estimated that at present rates of usage, our known petroleum resources will last us for about forty years and the coal resources will last for another two hundred years.

Hence we need to find out alternate sources of energy. Scientists are working on developing some alternate energy sources so that dependency on coal and petroleum can be reduced. Some examples are,

Pollution caused due to burning of fossil fuels

Minimising the use of fossil fuels

A few simple steps on our part may lead to lower consumption of fossil fuels thereby helping in judicious use of resources and saving the environment from pollution,