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| Last Updated:: 08/07/2021

Natural Resources

Natural Resources

Natural resources of a region include water, land, mineral, air, soil, energy, biodiversity, ecosystems etc. The state of Karnataka is well endowed with many of these resources.

Water Resources:

The most significant amongst bio-resources is the water. Karnataka accounts for about 6 % of the country's surface water resources of 17 lakh million cubic metres (Mcum). About 40 % of this is available in the east flowing rivers and the remaining from west flowing rivers. There are seven river basins with which their tributaries feed the State. The river basins of the state are: Krishna, Cauvery, Godavari, West flowing rivers, North Pennar, South Pennar, and Palar. The coastal regions are well fed by rain water, whereas, some of the northern/ interior parts of Karnataka are not well endowed with rain water resources.


                                        Fig-1 Rain-water sources and patterns in Karnataka

Land resources:

In Karnataka, greater than three fourths of the land is under rain fed cultivation. Cultivation practices involving the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides affect the soil and water quality. The agro-climatic conditions are an important factor determining the use of natural resources in rural areas and availability of bio-resources. Regions with similar geographic, edaphic and meteorological characteristics are grouped and referred to as agro climatic zones. Karnataka state has been divided into 10 agro-climatic zones. The profile of the soil types, water resources (rainfall, river basins and use of groundwater) and forest resources are included in Karnataka.

Mineral resources:

The state has rich deposits of mineral wealth, distributed more or less evenly over its territory. These deposits contain asbestos, bauxite, chromite, dolomite, gold, iron ore, kaolin, limestone, manganese, ochre, quartz, silica sand, etc. Karnataka is the sole producer of felsite and leading producer of gold, moulding sand, and fuchsite quartzite. 

Soil resources:

Earth needs to be nurtured with mother’s care because earth gives everything for sustaining life. This statement is substantiated for soils because for sustainable agricultural production, it is necessary to focus attention on the soil and climate resource base, current status of soil degradation, etc.  It is essential to study various soil quality parameters and prepare soil quality index for the state. So we have to take physical account of these parameters (both static and dynamic), process the data, analyse the things to draw inferences, thereby it is possible to know the relative contribution of each parameter and the inter relationship of such parameters in determining overall soil quality index. Different soil and land parameters are as follows:  soil depth, soil texture, soil colour, soil drainage & permeability, soil available water capacity, soil erosion, soil gravelliness, slope, soil degradation, land capability and land irrigability.

Forest and Biodiversity resource:               

Forests are an integral part of the natural resources and environmental and ecological systems. Forest area in the state is about 1.2% of the geographical area of the country and about 20 % the geographical area of the State. The total forest area in the state is about 74% (10%) in comparison to that for India which stands at about 55% (28%). About 89% the forest area in the state is managed by forest department. The state's dense forests are located in the Western Ghats region and about 60% of the Western Ghats of the country is located in the State. In order to protect and develop bio-diversity, the State has formed 4467 biodiversity management committees at grama panchayat level. Bio-diversity heritage sites such as 400 yrs old tamarind grooves at Nallur - Devanahalli taluk were developed to conserve and develop the unique genetic diversities. In recent years, due to fundamental and proximate factors, Western Ghats which is considered as one of the hot spots of the world's bio-diversity are under severe threat.  Although the depletion of forest cover is halted to a large extent and forest cover has quantitatively increased in the recent years, the natural forest stock is qualitatively still under degradation. Increased deforestation and degradation of the environmental resources has serious implications for production and resilience of the ecosystem. The loss of forest cover is a serious threat to the environment, sustainable development and the livelihoods of millions of people in the state.  Forest resources significantly contribute to the State's Gross Domestic Product (GSDP) by being a major source of timber, medicinal plants, NTFPs, grazing, recreational activities, carbon sequestration, watershed provisions etc. Forest resources are under severe pressure due to rapid population growth and in this scenario, meeting developmental, livelihood, agricultural and industrial needs and conserving forests for productive and ecological services is a major challenge. The main factors responsible for the depletion of the forest resource base are diversion of forest areas for developmental activities, encroachment of forest area, destruction of natural habitat, mining and quarrying, wildlife poaching, smuggling of timber, erosion of common property resources, excessive fuel wood collection and livestock grazing. The Forest Department of Karnataka has succeeded in halting quantitative depletion of forest cover through afforestation programmes but the deteriorating quality of forests continues to be a major threat to the sustainability of both human beings and animals. Area under forests Karnataka's geographical area of 191,791 sq. km. constitutes 5.83% of India's area. Forest accounts for the second largest land use after agriculture. As per Annual Report of 2014-15, the total forests cover in the state is 43,356.47 Thus, about 22.61% of the State's geographical area is under forest cover. The estimates of Forest Survey of India (FSI 2013) on the basis of satellite data show that the recorded forest area of the state is 38,284, which is lower than the state's estimates. The estimation of forest cover, classified on the basis of forest canopy density, shows that the State has 1,777 sq. km of very dense forest, 20,179 sq. km of moderately dense forest and 14,176 of open forest.


Maps: Karnataka State Remote Sensing Applications Centre (KSRSAC)

Natural Resource accounting in Karnataka – A study of land and forestry sector excluding (mining). 2008

A Report of Central Statistical Organization – GOI. Panchamuki et al.( 2008)

SOER Report 2011

Chapter3 Natural Resources in Karnataka Pg. 87 – 126.