The wise and careful use of natural resources is called conservation. We are using these natural resources without thinking, to fulfill our requirements and the results of this is always negative during a period of time.
But it is never two late. Even now if these resources are wisely used, conservation is not only wise and careful use of resources but it can maintain and improve their quality and quantity.
Soil forms another main natural resource which is essential for survival and development of human beings.
We get our basic requirements as food, clothing and shelter mainly from the plants that grow in the soil or from the animals that feed on such plants. Soil serve as natural habitat for microbes, plants and animals. The word ‘soil’ is derived from a latin word ‘solum’ meaning earthly material in which plants grow. Soil is the mixture of inorganic and organic materials.
Air and water occupy the pores between the soil particles which are loosely packed. Soil provides shelter to bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoans, earthworms, snails, ants. Roots of higher plants grow into the soil in search of water and nutrients. Soil is the ultimate source of all food production. Top soil is the uppermost layer which is rich in humus, it makes the soil fertile. Soil fertility is lost due to some activities.
The substance which make up the earth surface is called soil. Soil is a complex mixture of non-living materials and some living things. All the plants grow in the soil. Soil provide support and nutrition to plants. The top soil is very fertile. The top soil is often carried away by strong winds or by heavy rains or by flowing river water. The removal of fertile top soil from a region by wind, rain or river water is called soil erosion. Floods, improper tillage, deforestation, overgrazing, rain, wind and human activities are the cause of soil erosion.
The loss of soil fertility occurs mainly due to soil erosion and continuous cropping. The technique and methods which check the loss of soil during erosion is called soil conservation. Thus, soil conservation means protection, improvement and sustained renewal of soil at any place. Following steps can be taken to conserve soil.
1. Soil erosion can be prevented by intensive cropping means we should grow more crops.
2. Soil erosion can be checked by providing proper drainage canals around the fields to carry out excess rain water.
3. Soil erosion in hilly areas can be prevented by practising step farming (terrace farming) when the sloping fields of the hilly areas are laid down in the form of small steps or terraces, then the speed with which rain water flows down is reduced.
4. Soil erosion is prevented by planting trees and sowing grasses, soil should not be left barren.
5. Soil erosion can be checked by constructing strong embankments (baandh) along the river banks by using rocks and stones.
6. Addition of manure prepared from dead organic matter restores the fertility of the soil, as it is rich in humus.
7. Addition of chemical fertilizers like urea, NPK, Ammonium phosphate and super phosphate also improve the soil fertility but the excess use of chemical fertilizers should be avoided as these fertilizers are harmful for organisms living in the soil.
Water is another important renewable resource. The seas, oceans, rivers, streams lakes, ponds, pools and polar ice caps form the hydrosphere. About 75 percent of earth’s surface is covered with hydrosphere. The main component of the hydrosphere is water.
Water is a natural resource. It is a valuable national asset. It forms main requirement of human beings. We depend on water for cleaning, agriculture, transportation and hydropower. There are two kinds of water; salt water and fresh water. Small amount of earth’s fresh water is available for use. Fresh water becomes available when water is recycled in the water cycle.
When water falls on the earth, a very small fraction of this water percolates deep into the ground, this is called ground water. The depth in the soil where all the pore spaces of soil particles are saturated with water only, is called water table. The ground water provides soil moisture for plant growth. Ground water is frequently used for human consumption.
Fall of water table level:
The ground water level goes down drastically over a period of a few years. As a result our wells and hand pumps become dry during summers, tube wells and wells have to be dug deeper to get water. Water level goes down if the rate of pumping out of ground water is more than the rate at which the rain water percolates into the earth, deforestation, overgrazing, construction of roads and buildings are responsible for the reduction of water level. Depletion of water table can cause damage of the standing crops as the roots of these plants are unable to reach up to the water table.
Water is very precious resource which is required by all living beings.
Water should not be wasted, and conserve by the following methods:
1. Development of integrated water shed plan for drinking, irrigation and industrial uses.
2. Wastage of water should be avoided.
3. Adoption of various flood control methods.
4. Deforestation should be discouraged and afforestation should be encouraged.
5. Drip irrigation method should be adopted in which water is supplied up to the roots drop by drop instead of filling the field with water.
6. Harvesting of rain water technique should be promoted as it is being encouraged by government. Rain water which falls on roofs of buildings is collected into deep trenches in the ground (Fig. 11.7). It, thus replenishes ground water instead of just flowing into open drains.
Air forms an important renewable natural resource. Air is very essential for all living organisms as human beings require oxygen for survival and plants need carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. There is an envelope of air around the earth which forms atmosphere. Air consists of a mixture of various gases in different proportions. Total volume of air present in atmosphere consists of 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen and 1 percent other gases such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane, hydrogen, ozone, noble gases such as argon, neon, helium, krypton, xenon and radon.
Forests are very important renewable resources. Many kinds of organisms, birds and animals live here. Forests bring rain and prevent soil erosion. Forests give out oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide thus purify the atmosphere.
Forests prevent floods, provide different types of medicines, timber for furniture and buildings, we get gums, latex, resins and pulp for paper industries. Man has done deforestation for his selfish needs such as for building constructions, road making, for getting timber, villagers cut tree to get wood for burning purpose.
Effects of deforestation:
1. Soil erosion is the result of deforestation.
2. Deforestation affects rainfall and water cycle is disturbed.
3. Oxygen carbon dioxide balance is disturbed which may lead to air pollution.
4. Habitat of various animals like birds, insects is destroyed, due to which certain species of animals and birds may extinct.
1. Afforestation of deforested areas becomes necessary to get sufficient rainfall.
2. Forests should be protected from fire. Forest fires can be controlled by spraying fire extinguishing solutions.
3. Overgrazing should be avoided.
4. In reserve forests no commercial exploitation should be allowed, they should be protected from fuel-starved villagers and fodder-starved cattle.
5. Selective cutting of trees in the forest may be allowed rather than cutting all the trees.
Wildlife conservation and forest conservation are very closely related. When deforestation is done wild animal run here and there as they lost their habitat.
Hunting of animals for food, skin, bones, horns and ivory is responsible for reduction in the number of wild animals (Figs. 11.9-11.12). Some animals are gun down only for fun and sports which is very cruel activity. Due to the illegal trade of hides, large number of tigers, leopards, deer snakes and crocodiles are killed. Indian rhinoceros, great Indian bustard, musk deer, blue whale are endangered species.
Indian egg-eating snake, olive ridley turtle, Indian pied hornbill and golden cat are rare species. Hunters and poachers disturb food chain in nature and also balance of environment. For example killing of snakes which feed on rats and mice, increase the number of these pests and damage of crops is increased.
Conservation of wildlife:
1. Hunting should be discouraged.
2. Deforestation should be prevented.
3. Natural habitat of animals should be protected and maintained.
4. Articles made by hides, fur, ivory and horns should be boycotted.
5. Laws against hunting should be implemented effectively.
6. Poachers should be arrested immediately and should be kept behind the bars.
7. More National parks and bird sanctuaries should be established (Fig. 11.13).
8. Indian public should be educated by films, T.V. shows, popular articles in news papers and magazines regarding the significance of Indian wildlife.