Nepal is a small country but it is rich in Natural Resources. These natural resources are the gifts of the nature. Some of the important natural resources of Nepal are: Forest, Water, Soil or Land.
Forest is one of the important natural resources. Different types of forests are found in different regions of Nepal. It occupies about 37% of the total land of Nepal. Forest is the source of all wood-based industries. Industries like paper, furniture and timber are based on the forest. Forests are rich in herbs. The herbs have medicinal values. Many medicines are made from these herbs. Timber and herbs are valuable natural resources. The value of timber and herbs is very high in the world market.
There are many kinds of animals in the forests of Nepal. Forests provide food and shelter for these animals. Animals and birds add to the natural beauty of the country. People from many countries come to Nepal to see these beautiful birds and exotic wildlife. Many types of fruit and grasses grow in forests. People depend on them for their living and also to rear their livestock.
Forests support agriculture. It also causes rainfall. It keeps the soil tight. So, forests help control soil erosion, landslides and floods. Nepal government is trying to preserve forests. It has established many National Parks and Wildlife Reserves.
Green forest is the wealth of Nepal. Forest is the free gift of nature to human beings. Forest is a very important resource of Nepal. Forest provides wood, fuel, herbs etc. we get raw materials for fuel, raw materials for furniture, matches and paper. It influences climates, causes rain, stops flood, soil erosion and landslide. Forest is the habitat of wild animals. Tourists come to see wild animals and thus we can earn foreign currencies. Forest regulates the temperature of the surrounding areas. It is pleasant to live near forest. Villagers graze their cattle in the forests and they also get fodders for their cattle. We should preserve our forest and use it wisely.
Water is the most important natural resource of Nepal. Nepal is rich in water resource. Nature has been very kind to us by providing us with unlimited supply of water. Nepal is the second richest in the water resources in the world after Brazil.
Nepal is a landlocked country. So Nepal does not have access to the sea or oceans. But there are lots of rivers that flow from the Himalayas. When snow melts in the Himalayas, the glacier and rivers are formed. The rivers flow through the mountain regions to the Terai. The main rivers of Nepal are Mechi, Koshi, Narayani, Gandaki, Karnali and Mahakali. These rivers have several tributaries. In addition to these Kankai, Bagmati, Trishuli, Marshyangi, Seti, Rapti, Bheri and also important rivers of Nepal.
Lakes are also important sources of water. There are many lakes in Nepal. Rara lake is the largest. It is located in Mugu district. The second largest lake is the Phewa. It is in Pokhara, Kaski. Begnas and Rupa lakes are also in Pokhara. Lakes are usually large areas of water surrounded by land.
Phoksundo is the deepest lake of Nepal. It is located in Dolpa district. Tilicho is located at the highest altitude. It is in Manang district. Some famous lakes are Gosain Kunda (Rasuwa district) and Satyawati (Palpa district). Rivers and lakes together with other streams, ponds and underground water form water resources. These are important sources for the development of Nepal.
Water is used for many purposes. It is used for drinking and washing. It is used for irrigation. Irrigation is the lifeline for agriculture. Hydro-electricity is produced from fast flowing rivers. Many hydro-power stations have been built in Nepal to tap rivers for generating electricity.
The major hydro-electricity projects are:
- Kaligandaki: 144MW
- Marsyangdi: 75MW
- Kulekhani I: 60MW
- Bhote Koshi: 36MW
- Khimti: 60MW
- Kulekhani: 32MW
Land is the other natural resource of Nepal. In Nepal most people depend on land. They do farming and earn their living from land. Land includes soil and minerals. The cultivable land in Nepal is about 17%. About 38% of the land is rocky and covered with snow.
Soil is an important factor for agriculture. It is not possible for people and animals to live on earth without soil. The land in Terai is very fertile. It is good for agriculture. So, the productivity of Terai is very high. The terai region is the storehouse of food grains. It is called the green belt of Nepal. There are many hills and mountains in Nepal. The surface is rugged and sloppy in the hills. When rainfall is heavy the top soil of the hills is washed away. Then it causes landslides. So, the trees should be planted and conserved to protect soil in the hills. Plants are the only means to hold the soil tightly and to stop erosion.
A variety of soils are available in Nepal. Nepal is an agricultural country. There is a great importance of soil here. Alluvial soil is found in abundance, which is very good for growing paddy, wheat, jute, oilseed, tobacco and sugarcane. Sandy and stony soil is found in inner Terai and Chure range. Soil is good for growing groundnut, coconut, palm, oilseeds, maize, potatoes, etc. Reddish grey soil is found in the hills of Mahabharat. This type of soil is good for potato, fruits, soyabean, tea and maize. Lacutrine soil is found in the valley. Its colour is black. It is good for the growth of green vegetables and food crops. In the Himalayan region the soil is not suitable for food and cash crops. The soil has less fertility so only buckwheat, barley, maize and potato can be grown.
Minerals like slate, stone, rock, coal, iron, copper, limestone, magnesite, mica and natural gas are natural resources. The marbles are made of rocks. Limestones are used in cement industries. Hetauda and Udaypur cement factories are the examples of such industries.
Nepal is quite rich in mineral resources. Mineral deposits such as gold, mica, limestone, iron ore, copper are found in different parts of Nepal. Because of financial constraint and lack of technical and skilled manpower, progress in the field of mining is negligible. If we utilize the mineral resources of Nepal properly, we can earn foreign currencies and people will get job opportunities also. The areas where minerals are found are as follows:
- Copper: Buddha Khola (Bandipur), Gyari (Gorkha), Arghauli (Chisapani), Taplejung, Ilam, Baitadi, etc.
- Iron: Ramechhap, Labdhi Khola, Pyuthan, Bhainse, Kulekhani, Bhutkhola, Phulchoki, Ghatkhola, etc.
- Mica: Bhojpur, Chainpur, Lamjung, Dhankuta, Nuwakot, Sindhuligadhi, etc.
- Limestone: Chovar (Kathmandu), Baise (Makawanpur), Udayapur.