Resources and Development

Resources – Everything available in our environment which can be used to satisfy our needs, provided, technologically accessible, economically feasible, and culturally acceptable can be termed a ‘Resource’.

Two types of Resources – Natural resources and Man-Made Resources  

Natural Recourses – Natural resources are materials from the Earth that are used to support life and meet people’s needs.

Examples – Oil, coal, natural gas, metals, stone, and sand are natural resources. Other natural resources are air, sunlight, soil, and water. Animals, birds, fish, and plants are natural resources as well.

  • Natural resources are used to make food, fuel, and raw materials for the production of goods. All of the food that people eat comes from plants or animals.

Man-made Resources – If humans use natural things to create something better that makes our lives useful and meaningful, it’s considered human-made resources.

  • When human uses woods, metals, sand, cement, and solar energy to make houses, machinery, cars, bridges, roads, and so on are known to be human-made resources.

Classification of Resources

Types of Resources

On the Basis of Origin

  • Biotic Resources: These are obtained from the biosphere and have life such as human beings, flora, and fauna, fisheries, livestock, etc.
  • Abiotic Resources: All those things which are composed of non-living things are called abiotic resources. For example, rocks and metals.

On the Basis of Exhaustibility

  • Renewable Resources: A renewable resource is one that can be used repeatedly and does not run out because it is naturally replaced. A renewable resource, essentially, has an endless supply such as solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal pressure.
  • Non-Renewable Resources: A non-renewable resource is one that can be used once and is not replenished with the speed at which it is consumed. It is a finite resource.                                          Fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal are examples of non-renewable resources.           

On the Basis of Ownership

  • Individual Resources: These are owned privately by individuals. In villages, there are people with land ownership but there are many who are landless. Urban people own plots, houses, and other property. Plantation, pasture lands, ponds, water in wells, etc. are some of the examples of resource ownership by individuals. 
  • Community Owned Resources: There are resources that are accessible to all the members of the community. Village commons (grazing grounds, burial grounds, village ponds, etc.) public parks, picnic spots, and playgrounds in urban areas are de facto accessible to all the people living there.
  • National Resources: Natural Resources mean all the resources belong to the nation. The country has legal powers to acquire even private property for the public good. You might have seen roads, canals, and railways being constructed on fields owned by some individuals. Urban Development Authorities get empowered by the government to acquire land. All the minerals, water resources, forests, wildlife, land within the political boundaries, and oceanic area up to 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) from the coast are termed territorial water, and resources therein belong to the nation.
  • International Resources: There are international institutions that regulate some resources. The oceanic resources beyond 200 nautical miles of the Exclusive Economic Zone belong to the open ocean and no individual country can utilize these without the concurrence of international institutions.

On the Basis of the Status of Development

  • Potential Resources: Resources that are found in a region, but have not been utilized. For example, the western parts of India particularly Rajasthan and Gujarat have enormous potential for the development of wind and solar energy, but so far these have not been developed properly.
  • Developed Resources: Resources that are surveyed and their quality and quantity have been determined for utilization. The development of resources depends on technology and the level of their feasibility.
  • Stock: Materials in the environment that have the potential to satisfy human needs but human beings do not have the appropriate technology to access these, are included among stock.                 For example, water is a compound of two gases; hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen can be used as a rich source of energy. But we do not have advanced technical ‘know-how’ to use it for this purpose. Hence, it can be considered stock.
  • Reserves: are the subset of the stock, which can be put into use with the help of existing technical ‘know-how’ but their use has not been started. These can be used for meeting future requirements. River water can be used for generating hydroelectric power but presently, it is being utilized only to a limited extent. Thus, the water in the dams, forests, etc. is a reserve that can be used in the future.

What is the Development of Resources?

The development of resources is vital for human survival as well as for maintaining the quality of life. It was believed that resources are free gifts of nature. As a result, human beings used them indiscriminately.

The following major problems of Resource Development.

  • Depletion of resources for satisfying the greed of a few individuals.
  • Accumulation of resources in few hands, which, in turn, divided the society into two segments i.e., haves and have nots or rich and poor.
  • Indiscriminate exploitation of resources has led to global ecological crises such as global warming, ozone layer depletion, environmental pollution, and land degradation.

Sustainable economic development

Sustainable economic development means ‘development should take place without damaging the environment, and development in the present should not compromise with the needs of the future generations.’

Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, 1992

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the ‘Earth Summit, was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 3-14 June 1992. The Summit brought together political leaders, diplomats, scientists, representatives of the media, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from 179 countries.

The primary objective of the Rio ‘Earth Summit’ was on Global Climatic Change and Biological Diversity. The Rio Convention endorsed the global Forest Principles and adopted Agenda 21 for achieving Sustainable Development in the 21st century.

Agenda 21

Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the Statement of principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests

 How are natural resources important for man?

Importance of resources for man:

  • Resources are vital for human survival.
  • They are important for maintaining the quality of life as man has been using the bio-physical environment to satisfy his needs.
  • Natural resources form the backbone of the economy of a nation.
  • These are the bases for economic strength and prosperity of the people.
  • They provide material, energy and favourable conditions for development.

Resource Planning

Planning is importance in a country like India, which has enormous diversity in the availability of resources. There are regions which are rich in certain types of resources but are deficient in some other resources.

For Example

  • The states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are rich in minerals and coal deposits.
  • Arunachal Pradesh has abundance of water resources but lacks in infrastructural development.
  • The state of Rajasthan is very well endowed with solar and wind energy but lacks in water resources.
  • The cold desert of Ladakh is relatively isolated from the rest of the country. It has very rich cultural heritage but it is deficient in water, infrastructure and some vital minerals.
  • This calls for balanced resource planning at the national, state, regional and local levels.

Land resources

We live on land; we perform our economic activities on land and we use it in different ways. Thus, land is a natural resource of utmost importance.

  • It supports
  • Natural vegetation
  • Wildlife
  • Human life
  • Economic activities
  • Transport
  • Communication systems

The land is an asset of a finite magnitude

Land utilization

Land resources are used for the following purposes:

  • Forests
  • Land not available for cultivation
    • Barren and wasteland
    • Land put to non-agricultural uses, e.g., buildings, roads, factories, etc.
  • Other uncultivated lands (excluding follow land)
    • Permanent pastures and grazing land
    • Land under miscellaneous tree crops groves (not included in net sown area)
    • Culturable waste land (left uncultivated for more than 5 agricultural years).
  • Fallow lands
    • Current fallow- (left without cultivation for one or less than one agricultural year),
    • Other than the current fallow-(left uncultivated for the past 1 to 5 agricultural years).
  • Net sown area
    • Area sown more than once in an agricultural year plus net sown area is known as gross cropped area.

Soil as a resource

What is soil?

Soil is the most important renewable natural resource. It is the medium of plant growth and supports different types of living organisms on the earth.

The soil is a living system.


It takes millions of years to form soil up to a few cm in depth.

Relief, parent rock or bed rock, climate, vegetation and other forms of life and time are important factors in the formation of soil.


Various forces of nature such as change in temperature, actions of running water, wind and glaciers, activities of decomposers etc. contribute to the formation of soil. Chemical and organic changes which take place in the soil are equally important.

Soil also consists of organic (humus) and inorganic materials

Classification of Soils India has varied relief features, landforms, climatic realms and vegetation types.

  • Alluvial soils
  • Black soils
  • Red and Yellow soils
  • Laterite soils
  • Arid soils
  • Saline soils
  • Peaty soils
  • Forest soils.

Alluvial Soils


  • These soils cover about 40 per cent of the total area of the country.
  • Alluvial soils are widespread in the northern plains and the river valleys
  • In the Peninsular region, they are found in deltas of the east coast and in the river valleys. Through a narrow corridor in Rajasthan, they extend into the plains of Gujarat.
  • They are depositional soils, transported and deposited by rivers and streams. These soils are loamier and more clayey in the lower and middle Ganga plain and the Brahamaputra valley.


  • In the Upper and Middle Ganga plain, two different types of alluvial soils have developed, viz. Khadar and Bhangar.
  • Khadar is the new alluvium and is deposited by floods annually, which enriches the soil by depositing fine silts.
  • Bhangar represents a system of older alluvium, deposited away from the flood plains.
  • Both the Khadar and Bhangar soils contain calcareous concretions (Kankars).


  • The alluvial soils vary in nature from sandy loam to clay.
  • They are generally rich in potash but poor in phosphorous.
  • The colour of the alluvial soils varies from the light grey to ash grey.
  • Its shades depend on the depth of the deposition, the texture of the materials, and the time taken for attaining maturity.
  • Alluvial soils are intensively cultivated.


  • Rice, wheat, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, jute, maize, oilseeds, vegetables and fruits.

Black Soil

These soils are also known as the ‘Regur Soil’ or the ‘Black Cotton Soil’.


  • Black soil covers most of the Deccan Plateau which includes parts of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and some parts of Tamil Nadu.
  • In the upper reaches of the Godavari and the Krishna, and the north western part of the Deccan Plateau, the black soil is very deep.


  • The black soils are generally clayey, deep and impermeable.
  • They swell and become sticky when wet and shrink when dried. So, during the dry season, these soils develop wide cracks. Thus, there occurs a kind of ‘self-ploughing’. Because of this character of slow absorption and loss of moisture, the black soil retains the moisture for a very long time, which helps the crops, especially, the rain fed ones, to sustain even during the dry season.


  • Chemically, the black soils are rich in lime, iron, magnesia and alumina.
  • They also contain potash.
  • But they lack in phosphorous, nitrogen and organic matter.
  • The colour of the soil ranges from deep black to grey.


Cotton, citrus fruits, wheat, jowar, millets, Linseed, castor, tobacco, sugarcane, safflower, and vegetable.

Red and Yellow Soil


Red soil develops on crystalline igneous rocks in areas of low rainfall in the eastern and southern part of the Deccan Plateau.

Along the piedmont zone of the Western Ghat, long stretch of area is occupied by red loamy soil.

Yellow and red soils are also found in parts of Odisha and Chattisgarh and in the southern parts of the middle Ganga plain.


The soil develops a reddish colour due to a wide diffusion of iron in crystalline and metamorphic rocks.

It looks yellow when it occurs in a hydrated form.

The fine-grained red and yellow soils are normally fertile, whereas coarse-grained soils found in dry upland areas are poor in fertility.

They are generally poor in nitrogen, phosphorous and humus.


Cotton, wheat, rice, beans, millets, tobacco, oilseeds, potatoes, and fruits are some of the appropriate crops for red soils.

Laterite Soil

Laterite has been derived from the Latin word ‘Later’ which means brick.


The laterite soils develop in areas with high temperature and high rainfall.


  • Laterite soil is reddish to yellow in color with a lower content of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, lime, and magnesia with 90–100% of iron, aluminium, titanium, and manganese oxides.
  • These are the result of intense leaching due to tropical rains. With rain, lime and silica are leached away, and soils rich in iron oxide and aluminium compound are left behind.
  • Humus content of the soil is removed fast by bacteria that thrives well in high temperature.
  • These soils are poor in organic matter, nitrogen, phosphate and calcium, while iron oxide and potash are in excess.
  • Hence, laterites are not suitable for cultivation; however, application of manures and fertilisers are required for making the soils fertile for cultivation.

Red laterite soils in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are more suitable for tree crops like cashewnut.

  • Laterite soils are widely cut as bricks for use in house construction.
  • These soils have mainly developed in the higher areas of the Peninsular plateau.
  • The laterite soils are commonly found in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and the hilly areas of Odisha and Assam.


Tea, coffee, rubber, cinchona, coconut, arecanut, etc.

Arid Soils


Arid soils are characteristically developed in western Rajasthan, which exhibit characteristic arid topography.


  • Arid soils range from red to brown in colour.
  • They are generally sandy in structure and saline in nature.
  • In some areas, the salt content is so high that common salt is obtained by evaporating the saline water.
  • Due to the dry climate, high temperature and accelerated evaporation, they lack moisture and humus.
  • Nitrogen is insufficient and the phosphate content is normal.
  • Lower horizons of the soil are occupied by ‘kankar’ layers because of the increasing calcium content downwards.
  • The ‘Kankar’ layer formation in the bottom horizons restricts the infiltration of water, and as such when irrigation is made available, the soil moisture is readily available for a sustainable plant growth.
  • These soils are poor and contain little humus and organic matter.

Saline Soils

They are also known as Usara soils.


Saline soils are more widespread in western Gujarat, deltas of the eastern coast and in Sunderban areas of West Bengal.

In the Rann of Kuchchh, the Southwest Monsoon brings salt particles and deposits there as a crust.

In Punjab and Haryana, farmers are advised to add gypsum to solve the problem of salinity in the soil.


  • Saline soils contain a larger proportion of sodium, potassium and magnesium, and thus, they are infertile, and do not support any vegetative growth.
  • They have more salts, largely because of dry climate and poor drainage.
  • They occur in arid and semi-arid regions, and in waterlogged and swampy areas.
  • Their structure ranges from sandy to loamy.
  • They lack in nitrogen and calcium.

Peaty Soils


It occurs widely in the northern part of Bihar, the southern part of Uttaranchal, and the coastal areas of West Bengal, Orissa, and Tamil Nadu.

They are found in areas of heavy rainfall and high humidity, where there is a good growth of vegetation.


A large quantity of dead organic matter accumulates in these areas, and this gives rich humus and organic content to the soil.

Organic matter in these soils may go even up to 40-50 percent.

These soils are normally heavy and black in color. In many places, they are alkaline also.

Forest Soils


As the name suggests, forest soils are formed in the forest areas where sufficient rainfall is available.

The soils vary in structure and texture depending on the mountain environment where they are formed.


They are loamy and silty on valley sides and coarse-grained on the upper slopes.

In the snow-bound areas of the Himalayas, they experience denudation and are acidic with low humus content.

The soils found in the lower valleys are fertile.

It is evident from the foregoing discussions that soils, their texture, quality, and nature are vital for the germination and growth of plants and vegetation including crops.

Soils are living systems.

Soil Erosion

In agriculture, soil erosion refers to the wearing away of a field’s topsoil by the natural physical forces of water and wind or through forces associated with farming activities such as tillage.

Soil Conservation

Soil conservation is the prevention of loss of the topmost layer of the soil from erosion or prevention of reduced fertility caused by over usage, acidification, salinization, or other chemical soil contamination.

Questions Answers

1. What are the types of Resources on the Basis of origin?

  • Biotic Resource
  • Abiotic Resource

2. What are the types of Resources on the Basis of Exhaustibility?

  • Renewal Resource
  • Non-Renewal Resources

3. What are the types of Resources on the Basis of Ownership?

  • Individual Resources
  • Community Owned Resources
  • National Resources
  • International Resources

4. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) is also known as?

Ans: Earth Summit

5. What percentage of Alluvial soil consists of the total area of the country?

Ans: 40%

6. What is Khadar?

Ans: Khadar is the new alluvium and is deposited by floods annually, which enriches the soil by depositing fine silts.

7. What is Bhangar?

Ans: Bhangar represents a system of older alluvium, deposited away from the flood plains.

8. Which soil rich in Potash but poor in Phosphorous?

Ans: Alluvial Soil

9. Which rivers are responsible for formation of black soil? 

  • Godavri
  • Kaveri

10. Black Soil rich in?

Ans: Lime, Iron, magnesium, Alumina, and Potash.

11. Red Soil Develop in which kind of rocks?

Ans: Crystalline igneous rocks.

12. Which form of red soil seems yellow?

Ans: Hydrate form of red soil

13. Region of arid soil?

Ans: Western Rajasthan

What is Soil Erosion?

Ans: In agriculture, soil erosion refers to the wearing away of a field’s topsoil by the natural physical forces of water and wind or through forces associated with farming activities such as tillage.

What is Soil Conservation?

Ans: Soil conservation is the prevention of loss of the topmost layer of the soil from erosion or prevention of reduced fertility caused by over usage, acidification, salinization, or other chemical soil contamination.

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