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management of a resource so that its use does not exceed the ability of the resource to regenerate itself


the maintenance of a species or ecosystem in order to ensure their perpetuation, with no concern of its monetary value

natural resource

anything used from the Earth (biotic and abiotic) by humans that has economic value

renewable resource

a resource that regenerates itself as fast or faster than it is being used (plants, animals)

nonrenewable resource

a resource that regenerates itself slower than it is being used by humans (fossil fuels, minerals).


the day-to-day use of natural resources by humans


the extraction of natural resources from the environment for profit

traditional subsistence agriculture

low-tech farming with the purpose of feeding one's family only

slash and burn

early form of agriculture where a patch of forest is cut and then burned, releasing the nutrients into the soil from the ash.

Norman Borlaug

father of the "Green Revolution", he introduced high yield varieties of crops around the world, greatly increasing food production

green revolution

movement that greatly increased food production around the world by using high yield varieties of crops. Increased the reliance on pesticides and chemical fertilizers, but fed many more people.


process whereby soils become infertile due to salt buildup from irrigation water

Genetically modified organism (GMO)

animal or plant whose genes have been altered to improve a characteristic of the organism


the loss of forests around the world due to pressures for land and wood from growing populations

old growth forest

forest that has never been cut or has not been cut for several hundred years (aka virgin forest)

second growth forest

forest that was once cut and has regenerated.


tree farms that are planted with one type of tree in neat straight rows for eventual harvest


when all of the trees in an area are cut, and leads to high rates of erosion on sloped land

selective cutting

only certain trees are removed from an area, leaving the majority of the habitat in place, minimizing the environmental damage

shelter-wood cutting

specific type of selective cutting, where mature trees are cut over a period of time, usually 10-20 years, leaving some mature trees for seed production


practice where trees and crops are planted together, as in "alley cropping"

forest certification

forest management tool to promote sustainable forestry practices by labeling wood and products made from sustainably managed forests as "green wood".


open or forested areas built at the outer edge of a city where development is prohibited, increasing the quality of life for people living nearby

National Park System

managed land that allows for recreational use, but no natural resource extraction. Roads and facilities are built to help access

Wilderness Preservation Areas

Open for recreation only, but roads are not built into it. No logging or mining is allowed

National Forests, National Resource Lands, National Wildlife Refuges

land areas that allow logging and mineral extraction with a permit

surface fires

fire that burns only the underbrush, not harming mature trees

crown fires

fires that spread through the canopy of the forest, high temperatures, and usually fatal to trees

ground fires

smoldering fires that take place in bogs or swamps, and can burn underground for days or weeks

capture fishery

area where fish are harvested in large numbers in the ocean


other species that are caught in fish nets that aren't the target species


fishing practice where nets are dragged through the water, catching anything in their paths

bottom trawling

the ocean floor is scraped by heavy nets that smash everything in their path

long lining

the use of long fishing lines with baited hooks every so often, catching many non target fish


raising of fish and other aquatic species in captivity for harvest


the excavation of the earth for the purpose of extracting ore or minerals

metallic minerals

minerals that are mined for their metal components. can be extracted (in smelting) ex: zinc, copper, gold

nonmetallic minerals

minerals that are mined to be used in their natural state, nothing is extracted (ex; calcium carbonate, sand)

mineral deposit

an area in which a particular mineral in concentrated


rock deposit that contains high enough concentrations of a mineral to make it economical to be mined

acid mine drainage

water that drains from mining areas (mostly coal and metal mines) that is highly acidic, damaging ecosystems


waste material produced from mining (scrap rock)


piles of waste materials produced from mining


process that identifies actions to avoid, lessen, or compensate for anticipated adverse envrionmental impacts


process of returning damaged ecosystems to ones that are functional, sustainable, and more natural


values of natural ecosystems that are not easily quantified into dollars (ex: aesthetic value, spiritual value)

marginal costs

the cost of reducing pollution by one additional unit of pollution. Pollution is only reduced to the point where maginal cost = marginal benefit

marginal benefits

the benefits of reducing pollution by one more unit of pollution


an indirect cost in the production of a product that is not priced into the cost of the product (ex: air pollution health effects from burning trash)

cost-benefit analysis

process of weighing the expense of taking a particular environmental action (reducing pollution) to the positive outcomes of taking that action.

Tragedy of the Commons

when a free-access resource in over exploited because each user of the resource wants to maximize personal use without regard for other users.

Gross National Product (GNP)

the total of all the goods and services produced within a country in a given year.

Full-Cost Pricing

when both the direct and external costs are included in a product

ecosystem services

benefits to humans that functional, healthy natural areas provide. Examples include bee pollination of crops

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