IGSNRR is a multidisciplinary research institute focusing on, among other things, physical geography and global change, human geography and regional development, natural resources and the environment, geographical information systems and surface simulation, the terrestrial water cycle and water resources, ecosystem network observation and modeling, and Chinese agricultural policy. Through research in these domains, the institute aims to solve major natural resource and environmental problems related to national sustainable development and improve its own innovative capacity at the same time.
The institute is home to the State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information Systems; the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes; the CAS Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling; and the CAS Key Laboratory of Sustainable Regional Development and Modeling. It also supports two national field observation stations: the ChinaFLUX observation station at Yucheng, Shandong Province and the Lhasa Plateau Ecological Research Station. In addition, the institute has a Physical and Chemical Analysis Center and five specialized laboratories. These facilities provide excellent conditions for scientific research and observation.
IGSNRR has a staff of 616, of whom 443 are faculty members. Among the institute's faculty are five CAS members, three members of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and three members of the Third World Academy of Sciences—a UNESCO-associated institution devoted to furthering scientific research in the developing world.
The institute offers Ph.D and M.Sc. programs in the fields of physical geography, human geography, cartography and GIS, natural resources, ecology, agro-forestry economic management, and environmental science. In addition, it offers M.Sc. programs in the fields of rural and regional development, meteorology, agricultural informatics, and environmental engineering. It also offers postdoctoral positions in geography and biology.
Nine academic journals and popular science magazines are affiliated with the institute, including the Journal of Geographical Sciences, the Journal of Natural Resources, and Chinese National Geography.