We all know that natural resources are essential, but why? In this article, we take a look at what natural resources are and how they are important for society and the future.
How Do You Define Natural Resources?
Fundamentally, a natural resource is a component of nature – specifically the raw materials – that can be used for economic purposes.
What are Five Types of Natural Resources?
Earth provides us with natural resources that can be used without creating or modifying them. In addition, commercial and industrial uses, aesthetic appeal, scientific interest programs, and cultural significance are included in this category. We have more than five examples to share from the environment! From research, these include:
- Wildlife (including fish and other ocean inhabitants)
- Minerals (like copper or iron ore minerals)
- Land (not specifically forests)
How are Natural Resources Classified?
The most simple classification of natural resources is non-renewable and sustainable sources. These sustainable resources can quickly be replenished naturally despite human consumption. This aims for sustainable development (enacted by government research), so future generations will have resources for their lives.
You can read more about renewable resources on this page.
Why Should We Conserve Nature?
Recent years have seen governments and organizations such as the UN department focus on the depletion of natural resources. Several steps are outlined in Agenda 21 to ensure countries’ sustainability of natural resources. At an alarming rate, resources are depleting, and this is considered a sustainable development issue due to the wrong actions. Natural resource depletion poses a threat to sustainable development since it degrades current environments and affects future generations.
Currently, rainforest regions, which hold most of Earth’s biodiversity, are of particular concern. A deforestation rate of 8.5% and a degradation rate of 30% affect the world’s forests and the planet’s surface. Since 80% of the world’s population relies on medicines derived from plants, and 34% of all prescription medicines contain plant-derived ingredients, losing the world’s rainforests could mean fewer potential life-saving medicines being discovered.
There is an association between natural resource depletion and social inequality and freedom. Most of the biodiversity is located in developing countries, so depleting this resource could negatively impact these countries’ ecological communities. It has been argued that this depletion is a significant source of social unrest and conflict in developing countries.
There are also indirect negative changes from human activity when it comes to the depletion of natural resources, which include:
Current agricultural practices also contribute to the depletion of natural resources. Excessive use of nitrogen and desertification, for example, deplete soil nutrients. Communities are concerned about natural resource depletion, so it is essential to conserve the Earth’s land and air from pollution, helping millions across the globe.
Local partners (like us! Take a look at our main menu page) and field offices can help protect our natural sources.
How Can We Conserve Natural Resources?
As a result of the 1982 World Charter for Nature, the United Nations recognized the need to preserve the environment from further deterioration. To protect our land, all levels of society must take action. Whether the Canada government to the natural resources Wales provides, international cooperation is vital. Individual help is also necessary; it can teach our children the skills needed for conservation. This is why the government (at least in the UK) now provides grants, documents, consultations and programs to make sustainable living more accessible for everyday life.
You can see the gov regulations here.
It emphasises the importance of sustainable resource use and recommends that national and international law systems safeguard natural resources. In 1990, the IUCN, WWF, and UNEP developed the World Ethic of Sustainability page, which outlined eight values for sustainability, including the necessity of protecting natural resources. Each document page led to the establishment of scientific fields of conservation biology and habitat conservation, as well as the creation of many measures to protect natural resources.
Conservation biology aims to prevent species, their habitats, and ecosystems from becoming extinct at excessive rates. Science, economics, and natural resource management are all incorporated into this subject.
In habitat conservation, plants and creatures, especially those that rely on habitat survival, are conserved, protected, and restored to prevent extinction, fragmentation, and range reductions.
Does the UK Have Good Natural Resources (Wales and Scotland Included)?
The UK has historically had a large amount of forest cover. Throughout history, humans have deforested much of the UK and animal hunting was standard practice, ridding lots of natural resources (Wales included).
By European standards, agriculture produces 60% of food needs and uses only 1% of the workforce. The agricultural industry is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient. Approximately 2% of the GDP is derived from it. In terms of production, livestock accounts for two-thirds, while arable crops account for one-third.
There are a variety of natural resources in the UK, including:
- Geological (such as iron, silver, gold, rock salt, chalk, etc.)
- Non-renewable (such as coal, natural gas and oil)
- Agricultural (like barley, wheat and animals – primarily sheep)
As the most densely populated major nation in Europe, England is also one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Water resources in the United Kingdom will likely be under extreme pressure because, in combination with a changing climate, the southeast of England has a high population density.
UK greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced. We managed to meet the Kyoto Protocol target of a 12.5% reduction from 1990 levels, and it has only improved from then on.
The United Kingdom came in 189th out of 218 countries in a 2018 World Wide Fund for Nature survey. So there is still severe pressure to do better as a nation, although this could be said worldwide.
How Can Biomass Help With the Conservation of Natural Resources?
To read about the basics of biomass, check out our other article to get up to date!
Biomass, or organic material from plants or animals, is the most significant source of renewable energy in the UK, which we consume most.
There are greenhouse gas emissions associated with biomass combustion, unlike other renewable electricity sources. Government and private sector research show that biomass can emit lower greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity than fossil fuels like gas or coal, depending on where and what type of biomass is burned.
Biomass is a renewable energy source since it removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere (e.g. carbon dioxide) and stores them in soil, trees, and other vegetation. Therefore, biomass can help reduce carbon emissions when managed and harvested sustainably.
See our main menu page for our site rules surrounding the environment regulations we have in place when providing biomass fuel.
It appears that biomass will continue to contribute to meeting the UK’s long-term (2050) emissions targets to help the UK move towards net-zero emissions in the future. This, along with new technologies being developed to capture the emissions generated when it is combusted (Carbon Capture Usage and Storage).
A growing concern will be ensuring the sustainability of its use as greenhouse gas emissions, and broader environmental impacts are taken into account on a global scale.