NRSP was one of 10 bilateral research programmes, funded from 1995-2006 under the Renewable Natural Resources Research Strategy (RNRRS) of the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The RNRRS aimed to generate new knowledge in natural and social sciences and to promote its use for the benefit of poor people whose livelihoods depend on natural resources (NRs). NRSP's task was to develop both an understanding of these livelihoods and broad-based management strategies to improve them.
NRSP focused on delivering new knowledge concerning ways and means to bring about changes in the management of NRs (for NRSP these comprised land, water, vegetation and organic residues) that enhance the livelihood assets of the poor in an enduring manner. Integrated management of NRs was central to the research, which addressed three inter-related areas: the NR-base itself; the integrated and dynamic nature of poor people's livelihood strategies and the factors that affect their use and management of the NR-base; and the institutional environment in which NR management strategies are designed and implemented. The intended research outcome was that NR-related strategies for improving people’s livelihoods, that were of proven relevance to specified groups of poor people, would be delivered and promoted in forms that could be taken up by the poor, institutions supplying services to them, their employers and policy makers.
The programme operated a competitive grant that funded 181 research projects in 27 developing countries in the Caribbean, Central, East and West Africa, Latin America, and South and South-East Asia. Projects covered all six of the RNRRS Production Systems - High potential (HP), Hillsides (HS), Semi-arid (SA), Forest agriculture interface (FAI), Land water interface (LWI) and the Peri-urban interface (PUI).
Initially, NRSP was managed from within DFID Systems Management Office. From 1999, its management was contracted out to a consortium of consultants, led by HTSPE Ltd in association with DPU and MRAG.