Natural resources are the basis of human life (Simmons 1993). We use these varied natural resources in different ways to satisfy our needs and wants – eating and drinking, growing food, making clothes, building houses and transport, for example. However, natural resources are not infinitely available for human use. Not only non-renewable but also (theoretically) renewable resources are limited. So communities should be economical with their natural resources in a sustainable manner (Enders and Querner 1993).
In many regions of the world, this general shortage problem is aggravated by the degradation and destruction of natural resources (e.g., soil erosion). This is mainly due to overuse or a non-adapted use of these resources (Förch and Schütt 2004 a). The resistance and regenerative power of many landscape systems are thereby exceeded. Water balance problems threaten the living conditions of communities and limit the use of resources (e.g., destructive flooding, droughts). These problems are indicators of a non-sustainable management of natural resources. The underlying causes for this are manifold (see video).
As a result, some possible uses of resources are increasingly restricted. Food production and rural livelihood may be threatened as well as resource use conflicts may occur (Beck et al. 2004). Finally, the development chances of the specific region are increasingly impaired.
Thus, a sustainable management of natural resources is needed
- to avoid further degradation and destruction,
- to solve the water balance problems and
- to improve the conditions of the resources.
This requires careful and competent planning. For this, skilled planners and managers are required (Förch and Schütt 2004 a). Start your studies by learning about the planning and management of natural resources.
The functions that water can fulfil for society and the soil functions you can study in German if you follow these hyperlinks.