While I believe that trying to protect the environment is important, I also people in the basic human need to use whatever we can as individuals to take care of our needs. If a region has some useful resources that can benefit us, then I do not see anything wrong with such a practice.
As human beings, we are the ones that give value to things. Value is a human made idea based upon the concept of how scarce something is. Therefore, how we gather, use, and sell our natural resources reveals how much value we place upon them. For example, water has greater value in a desert region than in a jungle.
Gold as and example, it was always valuable, but when people started learning more and more about what it can be used for, the prices started to go up. So when people learned about how valuable it really can be, it found true value to almost the whole world today.
Yes, I do not think that we realize what we have done until it is to late, and we have used up most of a resource that we all of a sudden see is a really important thing for us to keep and make sure that we do not use.
If it is a valuable resource that is not renewable, then its exploitation is harmful if considerable thought has not gone into how to use it wisely. People are often thoughtless or selfish, wanting to utilize more than their share. We allow ourselves to ignore the fact that this resource is finite, and often the resource can be dangerously used up before we even realize its true value.