intrinsically and extrinsically renewed resources

There are two types of renewable resources: those that are renewed intrinsically and those that are renewed extrinsically.  A resource that is renewed intrinsically regrows from within itself.  A resource that that is renewed extrinsically is renewed from a source outside of itself.


A forest renews intrinsically.  If it is harvested it renews by regrowing from within itself.  Because an intrinsically renewed resource renews from within itself, it can be destroyed by over-harvesting.


A water spring is renewed extrinsically.  If it is harvested it is renewed with water that comes from rain somewhere else.  An extrinsically renewed resources is only ever available at a limited rate.  An extrinsically renewed resource cannot be destroyed by over-harvesting; however, it can be destroyed by destroying the source from which it is renewed.


Examples of intrinsically renewed resources include:

  • timber from a forest
  • fish from a wild fishery
  • energy from biomass
  • fruit from plants

 Examples of extrinsically renewed resources include:

  • energy from sunlight
  • energy from wind
  • energy from geothermal
  • water from a well.

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