What are Natural Resources ?

If you have often heard of natural resources but don’t truly understand them, then this is for you. This PowerVersity guide explains the concept of what natural resources are.

After all, our existence on earth is based on these resources. The air you breathe, the food you eat, even the water you drink are all examples of natural resources.

Hence, at the end of reading this blog post, you’ll truly understand what they are, why they are important, the various types, their advantages, and the threats to these resources.

So read on to know more.

Natural Resources Explained

Natural Resources Explained

As the name implies, natural resources are resources that naturally exist without the actions of humans. Therefore, their existence is not based on human manipulation or intervention.

In another form, you can also say that natural resources are resources that God provides naturally to us. This is because humans can not produce or make these resources.

The only thing humans can do is transform or modify these resources in a way or manner that will benefit us.

Furthermore, one major thing about these resources is that our existence or survival as humans and other living things is dependent on them.

Some examples of natural resources are- minerals, water (lakes, seas, ocean, streams, rivers), land, forests (vegetation), rocks, animals (wildlife, fish), etc.

All these resources are helpful to all living things in one way or the other. For example, the air is responsible for wind energy.

We use water for many things like drinking, washing, etc.

Not only that, we use sunlight to dry our things. We also get solar energy from sunlight.

Forest supplies us with different medicines, wood, and paper.

Interestingly, it is from all these natural resources that we get the things we consume in our environment today. So every artificial product you see around you is from natural resources.

While we need to transform some resources into other forms before using them, we can consume these resources as they are. After all, some of these resources are inexhaustible, i.e., no matter how much we use them, they cannot finish, e.g., sunlight, air, etc.

Unfortunately, some natural resources are vulnerable to depletion and degradation when they are not used accurately.

Natural resources are of different categories, and I will be explaining them below.

Types of Natural Resources

Types of Natural Resources

We have different types of natural resources. I will be explaining each of them.

The first category of natural resources that I will discuss is renewable and nonrenewable.

Renewable Natural resources

Renewable natural resources are the type of resources that are always available irrespective of how people use them. You can quickly recover them after using them.

Examples of renewable natural resources are air, water, vegetation, and animals. Animals are under this category because they reproduce young ones that replace the old when they die.

Even though these resources are renewable, they are not always easy to replace. Sometimes, it can take 10 to 100 years to replace them.

The Renewable materials that we get from living things like animals and plants are organic, renewable raw materials. Meanwhile, the ones we get from non-living things like water, sun, and wind are inorganic renewable resources.

Non-Renewable Natural Resources

Nonrenewable natural resources are the type of resources that are not replaceable once they are used up. Examples of nonrenewable natural resources are minerals, fossil fuels, etc.

Minerals are in this category because their formation periods usually take thousands of years.

Furthermore, the raw material from nonrenewable living things like fossil fuel is nonrenewable organic resources. But, on the other hand, the ones we get from nonliving things like rocks and soil are organic nonrenewable resources.

The second category of natural resources that I will discuss is Biotic and Abiotic Natural Resources.

Biotic Natural Resources

Biotic natural resources are the resources that come from organic and living materials (ecosphere). Examples are forests (vegetation), animals, etc.

In addition, coal, fossil fuel like petroleum, oil are also in this category because they are all gotten from organic matter.

Abiotic natural resources

These types of natural resources are the ones that originate from non-organic and non-living materials. Examples are water, air, land, and heavy metals like gold, iron, silver, copper, etc.

The third category of natural resource I will be talking about is based on development. They include- stock natural resources. Potential resources, Actual resources, Reserve resources.

Stock Natural Resources

These natural resources are present in your environment but are not easily accessible to everyone because of the technology or necessary expertise it requires.

Potential Resources

Potential resources are those resources that can exist in a particular location for years. If they are not drilled out, they can remain there forever.

The exact quantity of these resources is unknown, requiring advanced technology before these resources can be used.

An example of a potential resource is petroleum. Sedimentary rocks contain petroleum in different regions across different countries, but if it is not drilled out, the petroleum can remain there forever.

Other examples of these resources are- Uranium found in the terrains of Ladakh, Nagercoil Tamilnadu, and Gujarat states of India.

Actual Resources

In this case, the exact quantity of a resource is known, and the resource is being used at the moment. In addition, these resources are easily accessible due to technological advancements.

Examples of actual resources are the hydroelectric power of Niagara Falls, natural oil reserves of the Middle East, iron ore deposits of Madhya Pradesh. Some other ones include the dark soil Deccan plateau, rich coal deposits in Germany, petroleum and natural gas in West Asia, and India’s Mumbai High.

Reserve resources

Reserve resources are part of the actual resources that can benefit the people when developed in the future. For better understanding, let me give an illustration.

Let’s say you have a carton of biscuits. From that carton, you give your kid just one piece; then you hide the rest for future use.

The entire carton of biscuits now serves as a resource, defined as the total amount of substance, object, or energy available.

The available resources that are not for consumption are the reserve of the total resources, which is the remaining part of the cartoon of biscuits.

Many of the resources on earth today, like natural gas, coal, wind, and sunlight, have their reservations. The reserve parts are the part we can min, drill, etc.

Difference between Renewable and Non-Renewable resources

Difference between Renewable and Non-Renewable resources

The following are the major difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources.

Renewable resources are always available in respective of how people use them. Meanwhile, Nonrenewable resources can be exhausted.

Examples of renewable resources are sunlight, air, water, land, while nonrenewable sources are petroleum and coal.

Renewable sources usually have low carbon emissions and a low carbon footprint, while nonrenewable ones have higher carbon emissions and footprints.

Renewable energy has a high upfront cost. For example, generating electricity using renewable technologies is more costly than fossil fuels.

On the contrary, generating electricity from nonrenewable resources have very low upfront costs.

Furthermore, the method and equipment for harvesting renewable energy are more expensive, and it is not easy to find in many countries. On the other hand, the infrastructure for harvesting nonrenewable energy is easily accessible and less cost-effective.

Lastly, renewable resources need a large land area, especially solar and wind farms. Meanwhile, nonrenewable resources require lower land area.

Depletion of Natural Resources

Depletion of Natural Resources

Natural resources exist without human intervention or action. However, the excess consumption of these resources more than the way it replenishes is what we call depletion of Natural resources.

In a more simple way, depletion of natural resources happens when the rate at which people consume these resources is far more than the replacement rate.

Sadly, the depletion of these resources, most especially in developing countries, can result in the loss of the ecosystem. Not only that, but it can also cause social unrest and conflict.

Furthermore, the value of scarce natural resources due to the high depletion rate is more than those with low depletion rates. Unfortunately, the depletion rate of these natural resources today is alarming.

Going further, I will be discussing the major factors that cause natural resources depletion.

Causes of Natural Resources Depletion

Causes of Natural Resources Depletion

The following are threats that cause the depletion of natural resources.

  • Overpopulation
  • Intensive agriculture and gaming practices
  • Climate change and global warming
  • Environmental pollution
  • Land use and development
  • Poor farming practices
  • Logging


As the population of humans increases day by day, the number of people using the available natural resources also increases. As a result, there is pressure on utilizing these resources, which leads to overexploitation of the resources.

Due to the increasing population, those exhaustible natural resources like land, freshwater, fossil fuels are reducing sharply because of over-usage.

Furthermore, from research, UNEP Global Environment Outlook tells us that in the near future, the total number of people consuming natural resources will be more than the available natural resources.

Overpopulation increases the demand for natural resources. The more the population, the more need for these resources, e.g., natural gas, food, fish, etc.

In conclusion, overpopulation brings about overexploitation of these natural resources.

Intensive Agricultural and gaming practices

Intensive agriculture is one threat to our natural resources. This is because Famers now convert forests and grasslands to croplands.

Today, how people convert lands for the production of food, crops, and livestock rearing has led to the reduction of some natural resources. Examples are fertile land, wildlife, forest, etc.

Furthermore, the leakage of pesticides, agricultural waste, fertilizer into our rivers has also led to the destruction of many crop species, aquatic life, and natural water resources.

Climate Change and Global Warming

Many factors can lead to climate change. One of them is overpopulation, which will increase human activities. This increase can cause greenhouse gases and carbon footprint, leading to the destruction of some natural resources.

Climate change and global warming can change the nature of our atmosphere. If this happens, it will no longer be convenient for species already used to the environment.

The main effect of climate change and global warming is habitat loss and species survival. For illustration, wildlife needs cool temperatures of high elevations.

Examples are- mountain gorillas and rock rabbits. Unfortunately, they may not stay in the nearest future due to global warming.

Environmental pollution

Unfortunately, we have lost most natural resources due to toxic substances and chemicals emitted from industries.

The environment today suffers from water, air, and land pollution, which has greatly affected the natural resources present in our society.

Sadly, the natural resources that are already polluted will be useless to society because pollution makes the resources harsh to accommodate biotic and abiotic components.

Additionally, pollution destroys the chemical component that is available in the resources. For example, consider an acidic lake that cannot support aquatic life forms.

Land use and Development

Due to development, there is a high conversion of lands into housing development projects, shopping malls, office spaces, and lots more. All of this leads to the reduction of lands that are meant for wildlife and other living organisms.

Unfortunately, this development has led to the loss and destruction of millions of acres of a natural habitable environment.

Poor Farming Practices

Farming has become the major source of livelihood for many people today. However, the over-reliance on food production has put more stress on land resources.

An example is poor irrigation practices. This is the major contributing factor to the salinization and alkalization of the soil that assists the growth of plants.

Also, the use of large machinery poor soil management practices destroys the structure of the soil. Due to this, the land becomes unsuitable for plant growth.

Another thing that kills the soil nutrient is some farming practices involving excess pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.


According to records, the net loss of global forest between 1990 and 2016, according to Word Bank, was 1.3 million square kilometers. Also, tropical deforestation is estimated to happen at a rate of one percent yearly – mostly in Latin American regions.

It is quite unfortunate that deforestation results in tree losses, and many animals and plants lose their home due to this.

Effects of Depletion of Natural Resources

Humans suffer from the depletion of these resources. I will be explaining how this depletion affects the inhabitant of a place.

Shortage of Water

Water shortage is one of the effects of the depletion of these resources. The major causes of water shortage are deforestation, poor farming practices, and pollution.

The water shortage can result from contamination, the vandalization of natural water catchment areas, or water wastage. Sadly, in our world today, almost one billion people across various countries find it difficult to access clean water.

Additionally, the water shortage plays a role in famine and food insecurity.

Oil depletion

Approximately oil accounts for about 40% of the energy used globally. However, according to research, the quantity of oil remaining would only last for 25 years, which is bad.

This is a result of the high rate of oil exploitation.

As we all know, oil is a very important factor in planting, manufacturing, transportation, mining, etc. With its level of importance, its depletion would be destructive.

Also, it will lead to a high cost of living, mostly in developing countries, high cost of transportation, and crashes of many businesses.

Depletion of minerals

Another effect of the depletion of natural resources is the depletion of minerals. There is a high increase in the exploitation of minerals.

In other to sustain the total amount of people on earth, there is a high rate of exploitation of these minerals.

The minerals include phosphorus, copper, gasoline, and zinc.

Progressively, I will further explain natural resources’ economic effect and importance.

Economic Effect/ Importance of Natural Resources

Everything we see today in our environment comes from natural resources. It is so clear that without these resources, there is no way we can survive on earth.

Here I will explain how all these resources benefit you in one way or another.

These resources give you the primary things you need to live comfortably in your environment. Examples are water, food, sunlight, etc.

Most of these industrial materials and biological materials are used in the production of the drugs you consume.

Natural resources enhance the growth of nations. For example, for any country to be able to produce the energy it must need fossil fuel, and for industrial development, it must need mineral resources.

Another important thing is that we can recycle and reuse some of the things we get from natural resources, e.g, paper.

Overutilization and misuse of these resources can lead to environmental and socio-economic problems.

They enhance the growth of agriculture, imports, exports, trade, etc, which is a key factor in the development of any nation.

Wrapping up/ Conclusion

Wrapping up_ Conclusion (1)

Humans cannot exist without natural resources. The water you drink, the air you breathe, the energy you receive, and lots more are all examples of natural resources.

Also, the growth and development of any nation rely on the effective utilization of its natural resources.

Here you have it! I have successfully discussed all you need to know about these resources, including what they are, their importance, and lots more.

I hope this PowerVersity guide was helpful to you?

Please consider leaving a comment if you found it helpful using the “Leave a Reply” form located near the bottom of this page.

Lastly, you might be interested in other articles like this one. Take a look below:

What Is A Windmill: Meaning, Benefit, and how windmill work

Gloria Daniel
Gloria Daniel
Daniel Gloria Ojone is a Technical Writer at powerversity.com. She has a B.sc in Economics. Gloria loves writing, reading, and dancing. In PowerVersity.com, she writes product best picks, buying guides, and product comparisons.


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