Stewardship of Natural Resources through Anthropology Lens

Natural resources present one of the most important aspects of survival. They include renewable, non-renewable resources and specialized. Examples of renewable resources include such as fish, animals, plants, and forests. On the other hand, non-renewable resources include minerals and petroleum while specialized resources include wildlife, ecosystem services, land, water, and diversity. It is important to understand the differences between developed countries and developing countries regarding use and management of the resources. The dynamic nature of the resources demands that the applied methods in conservation be routinely evaluated and altered as means of improving on sustainability. Sustainability of natural resources is considered important because it determines the survival of human being. The following paper explores issues in natural resources based on a number of concepts anthropology. The analysis aims at providing

Anthropology is critical in understanding and studying various tenets of natural resources management because it entails exploring the distinct ways in which people perceive, experience, understand and respond to issues (Upadhyay 75). For instance, anthropological concepts such as the various ways in which man interacts with natural phenomena among other environmental factors can inform on the proper techniques of conservation of natural resources. Also, anthropological knowledge is holistic because it provides an elaborate history of man in the past, present and future, his culture and ways of interacting with the environment.

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In order to ensure sustenance of natural resources, it is important to look into all the aspects involved in conservation as well as various issues which affect the sustainability of the resources. Natural resources management is critical to man’s survival. The anthropological concepts used in natural resource management focuses on the fundamental concerns and reality of the human conditions (Upadhyay 77). The four main areas where anthropology emphasizes on in human resource management include an emphasis on cross-cultural approach, evolutionary approach, ecological emphasis and holistic emphasis (Upadhyay 77).

Ecological anthropology is critical to natural resource management because it based on the primary view that human beings are part of the larger natural systems. Also, ecological anthropology describes how human beings should interact with the environment. According to Orlove, ecological anthropology is vital in creating schemes to encourage people to take the responsibility of their environment including human activities which are likely to affect it (Orlove 235).

On the other hand, evolutionary or the historical perspectives of anthropology addresses both biological and cultural evolution of humanity. In addition, it provides a view of the human societies and the various changes they have ve through hover the years and its impact on climate changes and natural resource management (Jordan and Huber 91). Lastly, the holistic approach describes the relationships between the human life and how they are adapted to the natural resources and how the patterns of adaptations change over the years.

Cultural relativism focuses on the cultural differences among the people and the role they play in determining how they manage natural resources such as plants, animals, land, water, and minerals. Some cultural tendencies perpetuate conservation efforts as a manner to maintain core values and cultural practices thus improving in stewardship efforts (Chan 1). For instance, human factors such as population increase have a considerable impact on natural resources such as land, how it should be shared and conserved. In the past, land resources were in plenty and people used to forage for food. Also, land, among other natural resources were communally owned. However, currently, these resources have become scarce as the population increases. Consequently, management of such resources has become an important part of human existent. Anthropology also informs on the chosen economic systems in various societies and how this affects the use of natural resources. While the culture of capitalism allows for privatization of natural resources, socialists restrict commoditization and privatization of such resources because they are communally owned.

Another anthropological concept is how various cultures choose their technology in utilizing and conserving the natural resources. When exploring technology, anthropologists describe a myriad of differences between the ways in which industrialized and non-industrialized societies use technology in exploiting the natural resources. The technology available in a given culture/community determines how the natural resources are divided, utilized and conserved for sustainability. Furthermore, technological approaches in the management of natural resources have been associated with failure in sustainability efforts since most of them are based on faulty models (Upadhyay 75).Therefore, anthropologically, the concept of technology especially in non-industrialized societies is focused on survival.

Globalization is another emerging concept in anthropology which has a lot of impact on natural resources. According to Rudra and Jensen, globalization has introduced new dimensions of natural resources such as how they are affected by foreign investment, international trade, migration among other global forces. Multiple countries are gaining more wealth and knowledge of natural resources as a result of globalization. In addition, globalization has opened up new avenues and capacity to purchase more natural resources and invest in related industries such as agriculture, car manufacturing, consumer goods among others. Another feature of anthropology explores ways in which globalization affects consumption and conservation of natural resources since they have a finite limit. Compared to the last five decades, there is a low availability of natural resources because as globalization modernizes countries at a high rate, the ease of accessing the resources is reduced. In future, it is possible to have a situation whereby the oil demand will supersede the available supply. Consequently, globalization will be reversed because it is based on trade and economic growth. One of the suggestions put across solve the resources problem as a result of globalization is combining technology and globalization. In cases of raw material shortages, globalization is important in addressing it by opening up borders and encouraging free movement of goods and services internationally.

Structural violence is another anthropological concept which can be used to explain factors in distribution and management of natural resources globally. Social violence features various ways in which the available social institutions and structures bring harm to the members of the society as well how they prevent them from accessing basic needs. With the emergence of capitalism, various forms of structural violence are reinforced as people /countries try to amass as much wealth as possible. Structural violence does affect not only artificial and human resources only but also natural resources. Also, it dictates to some extent the ways in which the natural resources are distributed. For instance, nationalism is a form of structural violence whereby a country dictates its own social, political and economic systems as a means of maintaining sovereignty. Natural resources distribution and management is part of the economic systems adopted in nationalism. Therefore, the state dictates on the resources will be used, distributed or conserved. Also, in a bid to preserve the national culture, essence, and identity, natural resources are tightly controlled to manage production.

It is imperative for the international community to introduce natural resource management regions in order to take control of or medicate in contested natural resources globally. In most cases, war and rivalry between nations are as a result of natural resources contest. Territorial conflicts, land issues, oil resources and waters are among the mainly contested natural resources. In addition, such programs should address conservation and sustainability measures such as coastal restorations, nuclear energy management, among others. Both scientific and technical measures in natural resources management should be applied. Due to the interrelationships between the resources, management issues are quite complex. Apart from being inter-related, they are also dynamic in nature. Therefore, striking a balance in conservation is vital for the preservation of the natural geography, hydrological cycles, climate, plants, and animals.


Natural resources are paramount to the survival of human being. Therefore, the knowledge on the management of these resources is of great importance for the present and future interactions of the human being and the environment. Anthropological concepts in natural resources management bring insights on various conditions concerns surrounding the management of natural resources. Ecological anthropology is one of the imperative concepts that determine the management of the natural resources since it creates a notion asserting that human beings are part of the natural system. In that case, therefore, various human conditions are believed to be rooted in natural resources giving them responsibility for the stewardship. In fact, the relational values between human being and nature form the basis of stewardship of the natural resource.


Works Cited

Chan, Kai. Opinion: Why protect nature? Rethinking values and the environment. 2017. 28 October 2017 <>.

Jordan, F and B Huber. “Evolutionary Approaches to Cross-Cultural Anthropology.” Cross-Cultural Research 47.2 (2013): 91-101.

Orlove, B. “Ecological Anthropology.” Annual Review of Anthropology 9 (1980): 235-273.

Rudra, N and N Jensen. “Globalization and the Politics of Natural Resources .” Comparative Political Studies (2011).

Upadhyay, P. “Anthropological perspectives of natural resources management, climate change and global warming: From Quandary to Action.” Crossing the Border: International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 2.1 (2014): 75-92.