Cover Image
close this bookBasic Concepts in Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources Management: An Information Kit (IIRR, 1993, 151 p.)
close this folderIntroduction
View the documentUse of workshop
View the documentWorkshop participants
View the documentSupport staff
View the documentGlossary of commonly used environmental terms
View the documentList of references
close this folderEcological basics
View the documentEcosystem degradation
View the documentHabitat and niche
View the documentThe food chain
View the documentBiological magnification
View the documentNitrogen cycle
View the documentSociety and the carbon-oxygen cycle
View the documentHealth consequences of environmental degradation
View the documentPopulation and the environment
close this folderFreshwater and marine ecosystems
View the documentFreshwater ecosystems
View the documentEstuarine-mudflat ecosystems
View the documentSeagrass ecosystems
View the documentMangrove ecosystems
View the documentCoral reef ecosystems
View the documentHuman intrusions into the water cycle
View the documentDiversity of coastal and marine resources
View the documentPhilippine marine fisheries
View the documentMarine turtles
View the documentMarine food web
View the documentOcean pastures
View the documentThe menace of algal bloom
View the documentRed tide (Dynamics and public health aspects)
close this folderForest ecosystems
View the documentTropical forest -ecosystems
View the documentProtected areas: a tool for biological diversity conservation
View the documentEnvironmental effects of overexploitation for fuelwood in nearshore coastal resources
View the documentBiological diversity: and wildlife conservation
View the documentWildlife trade
close this folderGlobal warming and acid rain
View the documentClimate change and the greenhouse effect
View the documentHow deforestation contributes to the greenhouse effect
View the documentAcid rain
close this folderPollution
View the documentToxic and hazardous wastes
View the documentPollution and long-term effects on the human body
View the documentUrban pollution: The metro Manila environment
View the documentMining operations: environmental effects on soil, water, communities and atmosphere
View the documentPesticides: environmental and health effects
close this folderOthers
View the documentPhilippine commercial energy sources, 1990
View the documentCommon property resources in crisis
View the documentDegradation of the uplands
View the documentLowland degradation
View the documentEnvironmental issues in animal production
View the documentPlant genetic resources
View the documentNatural hazards

Glossary of commonly used environmental terms


a mixture of invisible, odorless and tasteless gases that surround the earth


simple, free-floating water plants

Ambient air

any unconfined portion of the atmosphere; the outside air


growing or living upon water


sand, gravel or rock formation found below the earth's surface which is saturated with water


the mass of air surrounding the earth held by the force of gravity


microscopic, single-celled plants


a material that decomposes in the environment as a result of biological action by microorganisms


the amount of living matter (plants and animals) in a given habitat


leaf area of a woodland


animals that eat meat (other animals)

Carrying capacity

the maximum number of animals that an area can support


green photosynthetic coloring matter in plants


the chemical process of burning which releases heat, light and chemical by-products


lowering of the quality of a resource


using up the total quantity of a resource


a person who studies the relations between organisms and their environment


a unit of the environment comprising the interactions of all organisms and the physical components within a given area


pollutant discharged into the air

Endangered species

plants or animals in danger of becoming extinct through all or part of its range; plants or animals whose numbers have been reduced to a critical level or whose habitats have been so drastically reduced that they are deemed to be in immediate danger of extinction


plants or animals which are unique to particular locality or place and cannot be found elsewhere, e.g., Philippine Eagle or Mindoro Crocodile


the capacity to produce motion, heat or light

Energy conservation

planned management of energy resources which conserves, protects and prevents waste

Energy resources

a measure of national wealth by the production of usable power, such as heat and electricity

Environmental impact

changes in the environment caused by some form of management or mismanagement


the wearing away of land surface


plants or animals which are not native to an area


plants and animals which have not been sighted in the wild during the past 50 years




an organic or inorganic material that is added to the soil to supply elements essential to plant growth



Food chain

an arrangement of predator-prey relationship in an ecosystem

Food web

the interconnected food chains within an ecosystem


all browse and non-woody food that is available to livestock or game animals


a complex community of associated trees, shrubs, other plants and animals


the art and science of managing forests so as to yield, on a continuous basis, a maximum in quality and quantity of forest lands to satisfy human needs

Fossil fuels

hydrocarbon compounds derived from the remains of organisms (plants and animals) buried millions of years ago


involving the entire world

Ground water

water found below the earth's surface

Ground-water recharge

water which seeps through the earth's surface and into the ground water aquifers


the area where an animal or plant naturally lives and grows

Hazardous or toxic waste

waste that poses a serious threat to human health even at extremely low concentrations

Hazardous-waste site

allocation where hazardous waste poses a potential threat to the environment

Heavy metals

metallic elements with high molecular weights; generally toxic to plant and animal life


animals that eat plants

Hydrologic cycle

continuous circulation of water between the oceans, atmosphere and the earth's surface

Industrial waste

waste generated by industries

Irrigated lands

agricultural lands whose water requirements are met by man-made or artificial structures rather than by natural means, such as rain; irrigated lands have water the whole year as against rainfed lands which have water only during the rainy season

Limiting factors

factors that restrict the population potential of a species

Lowland areas

rainfed or irrigated farming land that is flat or gently undulating and that is not very high above sea level


to move from one region or climate to another for feeding or breeding

Migratory birds

birds which travel from one place to another depending on the season


a naturally-occurring inorganic substance in the soil


a layer of plant residue on the soil surface

Municipal waste

waste from cities, primarily sewage


active at night

Nonpoint source pollution

pollution which enters the environment from a wide-area

Nonrenewable energy

resources which cannot be replaced once they are used


mineral elements and compounds (including water and air) which a plant uses for tissue growth and maintenance


animals that eat both animals and plants

Organic compounds

compounds composed of chemicals containing carbon; examples: pesticides, solvents, cleaning compounds, paints

Organic material

plant and animal matter in various stages of decay

Ozone (O3) layer

layer of the atmosphere that protects the earth from the harmful ultraviolet radiation in sunlight


a scale which represents alkalinity or acidity


the downward movement of water into the soil


the ability of the soil to allow air and water to move through it


a chemical used to kill or control pests


a natural, thick, yellow-to-black, flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture found principally beneath the earth's surface


the process of producing carbohydrates from water, carbon dioxide, chlorophyll and sunlight


suspended, floating, microscopic plants and animals in the water

Plant nutrients

elements essential for plant growth

Points source pollution

pollution which can be traced to a point of discharge


any introduced gas, liquid or solid that makes a resource unfit for a specific purpose


the presence of matter or energy whose nature, location or quantity produces undesirable environmental effects; a reduction in the quality of the environment by the introduction of impurities

Population density

the number of people or animals per unit area; example: people per square kilometer


animals that hunt, kill and consume other animals


an animal taken as food by a predator

Rare species

plants and animals with very small populations that are not, at present, endangered but are at risk.

Rainfed farming land

agricultural land which depends solely on rainfall for its water requirements transforming barren mine areas as nearly as possible to their original condition


to reuse or process waste for beneficial purposes


transforming waste products into new products

Refuge, reserve or wilderness area

an area of land set aside for the protection of wildlife

Renewable energy

energy resources that can be replaced by natural regeneration or human efforts after they are used


wildlife found in a certain locality but may also be found elsewhere


the angle of the soil surface expressed as a percent of rise and fall


the outer portion of the earth's crust that supports plant life


the process by which fish deposit eggs


a group of organisms that resemble each other closely and that interbreed freely


the progressive development of vegetation which replaces one plant community with another in order to reach a climax condition

Surface water

water visible on the earth's surface


the physical features (natural and man-made) on the land's surface


the release of water vapor by leaves into the air

Upland areas

hilly to mountainous lands, including plateaus and table lands lying at high elevations


growth or expansion of cities


useless, unwanted or discarded material

Water pollution

water which is made chemically, biologically or physically impure or unfit for use


the total drainage area where water flows to a common point


the actions that break down rock into soil


swamps or marshes, especially as areas used by wildlife


plants and animals found in their natural habitat undisturbed by man or free from human interference; mammals, birds and fishes which are not domesticated or are free-ranging in their naturally associated habitats


a living barrier of trees and shrubs designed for protection from wind


Darold Hehn and Bob Newport. Introduction to Natural Resources. 1991. Developed by the Mid-America

Curriculum Consortium. Stillwater, OK.