Economic Geography: Resource pattern
The biotic resources namely agricultural, forest, animal and fishing are mainly governed by the climatic conditions. Each plant, cultivated or wild variety needs certain optimum conditions of temperature and moisture for its growth. Thus cotton and sugarcane can be cultivated in tropical regions only. Teak and bamboo thrive under, conditions of monsoon climate. Similarly animals also need optimum climatic conditions. While cattle rearing need higher rainfall, sheep rearing is possible in regions of low rainfall also. Camels survive under desert conditions also. Therefore resource pattern may be related to the climatic types.
In the equatorial regions, the tropical rain forest is dense and has thick undergrowth. There are a large variety of trees. The region has enervating oppressive climate for man. The region is sparsely populated and transport facilities are lacking. The resources remain undeveloped generally. This condition prevails in the Amazon basin of South America and Zaire basin in Africa. An exception to this is the more easily accessible Peninsular Malaysia and Indonesian archipelago. The volcanic soils of the island of Java are intensively cultivated and the population density exceeds 1000 persons per sq. km. There are also plantations of rubber and other crops in Malaysia and Indonesia.
The desert regions are poorly endowed with biotic resources owing to extremely low rainfall. The vast tropical deserts like the Sahara, Arabia, etc., are almost uninhabited. The recent development of oil resources in the Persian Gulf region have brought prosperity to some of these countries. The mid-latitude deserts are mostly uninhabited except for pastoral nomads. The Polar Regions are cold deserts having poor resources except animals and fisheries.
The humid regions in the sub-tropics and middle latitudes arc rich in agricultural resources. Vast lowlands along the coast, river valleys and deltas are densely populated as their resources are well developed. Western Europe and eastern part of North America are richly endowed with agricultural resources. The vast grasslands of Ukraine in Soviet Union, Pampas in Argentina and Murray-Darling basin in Australia produce wheat on a large scale. Pastoral industry is also being carried on a commercial scale in these middle latitude grasslands. They are the major producers of wool, meat and dairy products. These regions utilize machines on a large scale for all operations in agriculture and pastoral industry. Hence, the number of persons engaged in primary occupations is small.
In contrast to this are the tropical lowlands and river valleys in Asia specializing in intensive subsistence agriculture. These regions use traditional methods of agriculture concentrating mainly on food crops like rice and wheat More than 50% of the population is engaged in agriculture. Most of the produce is locally consumed. Only less than 5% of world's production of rice enters world trade. Commercial crops like cotton, jute and sugarcane provide the basis for agro-based industries.
Tropical humid regions are also important for plantation agriculture specializing in crops like tea, coffee and rubber, mainly for export. Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India are important producers of tea and rubber. Brazil is the leading producer of coffee. Thus the biotic resources are closely related to the climatic conditions.
The abiotic resources are mainly the mineral resources, which provide fossil fuels like coal and petroleum or raw materials like iron ore. These resources are unevenly distributed. Large countries like the United States and Soviet Union are well endowed with these resources. Developing nations have not developed these resources as they lack basic infrastructure facilities. While easily accessible and high-grade ores arc getting depleted, new resources are being located. Reserves refers to the total mineral ores of a particular mineral in a country or region. Proved reserves are those which have been prospected and are believed to exist up to a particular depth. Potential reserves are those that are likely to be available in an area. Developments in technology in the use of low-grade ores may increase the proved reserves. High cost may make it profitable to mine low grade ores located at great depths.
Air and water are also valuable resources. Their availability is taken for granted. There ate large areas where potable and protected water supply is absent. Air and water supply are also getting polluted owing to industrialization and urbanization. Air and water pollution are of worldwide significance. Steps are necessary to protect these resources from pollution.
Landscape features and scenic beauty is also a resource especially in mountainous regions like Switzerland and Kashmir. Such resources attract tourists on a large scale and earn valuable foreign exchange.
Another approach to the study of economic geography is the study of regions, which may be homogeneous or heterogenous in nature. For example, we can study agricultural regions of the world or any one country.
The more common approach is to study the distribution of various economic products such as crops, minerals, manufactured products, etc. in the world as a whole or any continent or country.