Resources Science ›› 2021, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (11): 2160-2172.doi: 10.18402/resci.2021.11.02

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Discussion on the classification of natural resources and a new classification framework and scheme

SHEN Lei1,2()   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. School of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2021-04-13 Revised:2021-09-03 Online:2021-11-25 Published:2022-01-27


The scientific classification of natural resources is the most basic preliminary work for carrying out the investigation and evaluation of natural resources, fulfilling its management responsibilities, preparing spatial planning, implementing the overall protection of landscape, forest, land, lake, and grass (Shan-Shui-Lin-Tian-Hu-Cao, in Chinese) and systematic restoration and comprehensive management, and realizing the modernization of natural resources governance. In view of the different opinions and differences of academic researchers, management authority, and practitioners on natural resources classification, this article creatively proposes a new classification framework and classification scheme with three primary categories, 11 secondary categories, and 62 third-level categories from the perspective of space, attribute, use, and management of natural resources. The scheme not only distinguishes the geographical space of natural resources, facilitates differentiated management and practical operation, but also distinguishes different uses and attributes of natural resources, which well reflects the difference between natural resources as matter or energy and natural elements as environmental conditions. The results of this research have application value and practical significance for promoting the improvement of natural resources classification system and international integration, enhancing the modernization of natural resources management, and promoting the intrinsic connection between natural resources management departments and ecological environment, farmland and water conservancy, spatial planning, and urban and rural construction departments with regard to the key tasks and objectives for natural resources, territorial space, and ecological restoration.

Key words: natural resources, classification methods, classification issues, a new classification framework and scheme