Environmental resources can be classified as renewable, non-renewable and continuous.
- Renewable environmental resources are those which are, or can be, renewed within a relatively short time, for example, water through the water cycle; and plants, animals and marine life through reproduction. However, overuse of a renewable resource can lead to its disappearance, as with the overexploitation of a fishery or the over-extraction of groundwater.
- Non-renewable environmental resources are those that cannot be renewed, for example, minerals. Soils that have been degraded can only be renewed over long timescales. Continuous environmental resources are those, such as solar or wind energy, whose availability is unaffected by their use by humans.