Natural resource management is the method in which communities manage the supply and access to the natural resources available. It is understood that natural resources are available for survival and development. Human beings are the most dependent on natural resources. Natural resources refer to the material and substances available naturally and can be exploited for commercial uses. Conservation is vital for the sustainable management of natural resources to ensure ongoing access and steady provision. Uninterrupted availability of resources is central to the organisation of civilisations. Let us learn more about natural resource management in this section.
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A natural resource is one that is offered by nature without any human involvement. The soil, minerals, forests, water, etc. are examples of a county’s natural resources. Forests are natural resources as it is renewable, whereas oil is not a renewable natural resource. Some definitions state that only those natural resources that can renew themselves and whose exploitation depends on their regenerative capacities necessitate management. Let us study how natural resource management and why it is so essential.
Natural Resource Management (NRM) is about the continued use of primary natural resources, such as land, water, air, minerals, forests, fisheries, and wild flora and fauna. All these resources together provide the ecosystem service that supplies better quality to human life.
Conservation of resources is the regulated use of natural resources to provide optimum benefits to present generations while ensuring the capacity to meet the needs of future generations. Conservation involves both the protection and the rational use of natural resources.
For a long time, the conservation of natural resources has been organised by way of many schemes to varying degrees. The programmes also involve the dedication and support of Government and semi-government authorities.
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NRM includes eight principles of legitimacy, transparency, accountability, involvement, fairness, integration, capability, and adaptability – these features provide normative guidance for the establishment of multilevel NRM governance. The principles of NRM include the following practical methods:
Learn from experiences.
Establish and maintain an efficient project management process.
Ensure local participation in decision–making.
Build the project in the local context.
Determine communication and knowledge-sharing strategy
Develop a risk strategy
Conduct regular monitoring and evaluation
Consider reusing and recycling for future uses.
Follow the principle of bio-climatic and adaptable designs.
Natural resources are divided into renewable and non-renewable resources. Water and biological living resources are considered renewable, though they are renewable within certain limits. Parts of NRM include the following studies:
Forest Resources - Over use and exploitation, deforestation, timber, mining, dams, and their effects on forests and tribal people.
Water Resources - Use and overutilization of surface and groundwater, floods, drought, conflicts over water, dams- benefits and problems.
Mineral Resources - use and exploitation, environmental effects of mining, and using minerals.
Food Resources - World food problems, changes in land-use by farming, grazing, effects of modern agriculture, use of pesticides, fertilisers, water logging, and salinity.
Energy Resources - Increase in energy needs, renewable/non-renewable sources, and use of alternate energy sources.
Land Resources - Land, land degradation, human-induced landslides, soil erosion, and desertification.
Non-renewable resources include fossil fuels such as coal and oil.
Natural resources issues mostly relate to deforestation, degradation, land deterioration, water-related issues, land-use changes, problems of protected areas and biodiversity losses, and conflicts over natural resources. With an effective NRM policy in place, it is possible to address these issues.
The management and conservation of renewable natural resources mean to achieve a balance between the demands of exploitation with respect for regenerative capacities. For example, the cutting of trees and subsequent plantations, reducing pollution and release of contaminants in water, and proper land use.
The four pillars of sustainability involve human, social, economic, and environmental benefits. In all these, environmental sustainability aims to improve human welfare through the protection of natural capital. Here, natural capital refers to air, land, water, minerals, forests, etc.
NRM programmes and initiatives are environmentally sustainable as they ensure that the needs of the current population are met without the risk of compromising the needs of the future generation.
NRM gives due importance to achieve positive outcomes without doing any short term or long term harm to the environment and the natural and free resources available for utilisation.
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Q1. What are the Approaches to the Management of Natural Resources in India?
We know the importance of natural resources. Various rules and regulations have been passed by Governments over the years to ensure the wild-life does not become extinct and is saved by the greed of hunters. The governments have also passed appropriate rules to limit contamination of water by the large industries. Rules prevent industries from letting the hazardous waste from being released into nearby water bodies. Care is taken to keep air pollution within safe limits. Water is being treated, recycled, and reused, and the use of harmful plastics bags has been banned.
Q2. Why is NRM Important?
NRM ties up with concepts such as maximum sustainable development and optimum utilisation. Every natural resource has optimum utilisation or acceptable levels of usage. The levels are determined by management authorities who regulate the exploitation. For example, population studies in fisheries show that in a given population, when fish deaths increase due to human exploitation, reproduction rates start to rise. Now, the resulting surplus can be harvested sustainably. Negative effects of decrease balances the positive effect of the increase, and vice versa. In both the cases, NRM is about resolving a tension between potentially conflicting objectives of protection and exploitation.