Natural resources such as fresh water, timber, minerals, coal, gas, and the biological resources of the land and water ecosystems provide the basis for human survival and development. But the increasing demands on these resources, and decrease in availability, emphasise the need for a coordinated approach to sustainable management. The sustainable use and management of natural resources demands an interdisciplinary approach and sound knowledge on each specific resource, as well as on the ecological, economic, and social perspectives related to their use. It also calls for greater coordination at the global level. Natural resources management is one of the applications of ecology that looks into the sustainable management of not just individual ecosystems but entire landscape systems and functions. It identifies and highlights the prospects for institutional, technological, and policy innovations for community-based management of resources to reduce poverty, enhance food security, and ensure biodiversity and watershed management. It helps in answering some of the questions as to how the current natural resources can be managed in a way that will ensure they remain accessible for future generations; how the increasing energy demand can be met in a sustainable way or what technological innovations would enhance their sustainability; and what type of institutions and regulations are needed to prevent the over-utilisation and exploitation of land-based biological resource.
Natural resources management is central for the sustainable development of mountain areas. It includes productive and sustainable community-based management of vulnerable mountain resources, and focuses on sectoral integration and interdisciplinary approaches. It contributes to the development of improved and diversified incomes for vulnerable and marginalised mountain communities, and also helps increase the regional and local conservation of mountain biological and cultural heritage.