The proper use of natural resources for long-lasing human welfare is knows as conservation. The term natural resources includes all land, waters, minerals, vegetation and wildlife useful to the society in the maintenance of civilization. The wise and judicious use of natural resources without wasting them and the efforts of replacement like planting tree whenever possible are called conservation.
The important natural recourses are as follows:
1. Land It is the basic resource. It serves as the storehouse of minerals, a conserver of soil fertility, a producers of crops, a reservoir for water and a home for wild animals and livestock.
2. Water It is precious for life. It is store in porous soil, artesian wells and mountain streams. Lakes, rivers and oceans fulfill diverse human needs like food, recreation etc. It is stored for irrigation, domestic use, industrial use, mining and for other purposes.
3. Minerals These includes useful components like coal, oil, metals, clay, sand, gravel, stone, phosphates, nitrates, etc.
4. Top Soil It is the fertile layer of soil. Productivity of agricultural crops, fodder crops, forests, etc., are dependant on this. The whole animal world is also dependant on it indirectly.
Fulfillment of all our basic needs i.e., food, clothing and shelter are completely dependent on soil. Generally, the upper part of soil is necessary for growing food, fodder crops. Some plants supply fibers for making cloths, some trees are needed for constructing shelters. In fact, soil is the source which supports man, animals and all plants living on land. It is, thus, necessary to prevent the lose of soil. The principle of soil conservation deal with prevention of soil erosion. Soil conservation is concerned with keeping the soil in place, the maintenance of soil fertility and its efficient use. To check soil erosion various methods have been adopted.
One way to restore natural balance is to reforest the area. The need of reforestation can be stressed in a number of ways, for example, by organizing awareness camps, lectures, advertisement over radio and television, popular articles in newspapers, magazines and mass movement. As an illustrious example we can think of sunder Lal Bahuguna who organized the chipko movement in Garhwal District of UP.
Silent Valley society was formed in Kerala state. National and International efforts are needed for massive afforestation projects to cover large areas in plains and hills with proper kinds of trees. Since growth of forests is a slow process, large nurseries are needed to grow seedlings of different timber species. All means should be adopted to prevent forests fire. Fire brigades equipped with trucks, water tanks and chemical extinguishers should be readily available. Fire tower should be erected at strategic points in the forests to locate fires.
Water is required for domestic, agricultural and industrial users. The use of water is increasing in direct proportion to an increase in population and industrialization. If the water recourses are not managed properly, the very existence of the living world will be threatened.
In an attempt to conserve and utilize water, rivers and streams originating from mountains can be diverted to serve low land, farmland, and be useful for industrial and municipal purposes and lakes help greatly in holding water. The stored water can be spread to suitable lands through canals. If the watersheds (storage reservoirs) are not managed properly, the silts from soil erosion may gradually fill these and may cause overflow. This may damage farms, homes or cities.