In geographic studies there is and towards classification of every materials, resources or activities. One of the advantages of this classification is to help understand the features of the geographic area as well as the resources associated with it. For example, when we classify resources based on utility we may divide them into energy resources and raw materials. Raw materials can be of various types like minerals, agricultural products etc. By classifying the resources on this basis we can understand what minerals are and then make further subdivisions. By classifying the resources on the basis of origin we can trace the origin of a particular resource to a geographic area and then understand its physical characteristics. It would be appreciated that in each scheme of classification we make an attempt to assess quantity and quality of the resource as well.
(i) Classification of Resources on the Basis of Origin
On the basis of origin resources are classified into two main types — biotic and abiotic.
(a) Biotic Resources: These are living resources like forests and forest products, agriculture, animals, birds, marine life etc.
(b) Abiotic Resources: These are material resources or non-living things. Examples are minerals like iron ore, copper, land resources, soils etc.
(ii) Classification on the Basis of Renewability
On the basis of renewability there are two main types of resources —renewable and non-renewable.
(a) Renewable Resources: These resources can be renewed after use. They do not get exhausted. Renewable resources are like water, forests, soils. This renewability is possible only under certain conditions. Some trees may also take longer time to grow. For example it takes between 50 to 200 years for a tree to grow in a forests. Availability of fresh and pure water in a river may obtain under certain conditions of environment.
(b) Non-Renewable Resources: These resources get exhausted after use. Resources which cannot be replenished are like fossil fuels—petroleum, gas, coal, and other minerals.
(iii) Classification of Resources Based on Utility
Based on their use and utility resources are classified into Energy resources and Raw materials.
Energy Resources : Coal, gas, petroleum, water power and even certain minerals like uranium are used for generation of electricity or as fuels for transport vehicles.
Raw Materials: Minerals, vegetation, agricultural products, animals etc. form raw materials for production of goods. Even coal, gas, petroleum which are used as energy resources may also be used as raw materials for production of chemicals, fertilizers etc.
Natural and Human Resources
Based on origin, the resources can also be classified into Natural and Human Resources. But this classification can often be misleading. Human beings too are part and parcel of natural resources. Human beings also make resources like houses, waterways or canals, transport vehicles, chemicals and other materials for their own comfort. It is human beings who add value to natural resources and make them useful. Therefore, we need to treat Natural Resources and Human Resources as parts of the same system.
(i) Natural Resources : These are the gifts of nature including human beings which are found useful for making the life of human beings comfortable and worth living. Natural resources include natural vegetation, soils, water, air, minerals and even rocks.
(ii) Human Resources : These are the human beings made valuable trough education, training, experience or in other ways capable of making use of other resources efficiently. In fact human resources are- the most common as well as useful resources of a region or a country. Human resources do not merely mean the number of people living in an area but how the people possess skills, education and have knowledge to develop other resources. Indeed too many human beings without adequate skills, education and training make a nation very poor and may prove a drag on other natural resources.