The State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology of BNU focuses on studying the semi-arid grassland and the transitional zone between the pastoral and agricultural areas in northern China and the coastal areas. It deems sustainable ecosystem management and restoration of degraded ecosystems as the overall target while it strives to advance resource ecology research and dynamic modeling of ecosystems at multiple scales. The Laboratory conducts experiments and studies by integrating multiple disciplines to explore the geographical processes and the rational use of renewable natural resources. To date, it has established four major research themes including earth surface processes, resource ecology, earth surface system modeling and simulation, and sustainable regional development modeling. The goal is to provide technical support for the prevention and control of land degradation and restoration of degraded ecosystems in ecologically fragile regions. The objective also is to build the Laboratory into a research center and education base that specializes in earth surface processes and resource ecology, with important international influence and status. The Laboratory is headed by Professor Peijun Shi. The Director of the Academic Committee is Academician Zhisheng An.

The Laboratory has 6 experimental platforms for research on soil erosion processes, blown sand and sandstorm processes, environmental change processes, landscape ecology processes, ecosystem structure and functions, and resource utilization and ecology-production paradigms. It also has 6 field experimental bases in Fangshan of Beijing, Taipusi Banner of Inner Mongolia, Jingbian County of Shaanxi Province, Heshan State Farm of Heilongjiang Province, and Huanghua City and Huailai County of Hebei Province. The Laboratory owns 862 apparatus/devices of 49.59 million Yuan value that function well and are open to use by external users. The Laboratory is able to meet the research needs of its own researchers and visiting researchers from other countries.

The Laboratory has 61 full-time employees and 28 temporary staff. The average age of the full-time employees is 41, and 47% of them are between 30 and 40 years old. 92% of these employees have a doctoral degree and 21 received their Ph.D. degrees overseas. Of all the full-time employees, 46% have senior academic titles and 31% have an associate professorship, 10 are technicians and management personnel. 6 of the full- time employees are professors in“2010 One Thousand Talents Introduction Plan”, 1 in "Top-notch Talent Youth Support Program” (the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee), 3 recipients of the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars and 2 recipients of National Science Fund for Excellent Young Scholars, 2 professors-in-residence of Yangzi Fund, 3 honor-holders of “First Class State Talents program” (the Ministry of Personnel), and 11 title-holders of “Trans-Century and New-Century Excellent Talents program” (the Ministry of Education).

At present, the Laboratory undertakes nearly 100 research projects and assignments, of which more than 20 are major or key state projects. The Laboratory receives 46 million Yuan in research funds annually. In 2012, the Laboratory and its staff published 155 articles and 7 books, of which 79 articles were published in SCI(E)-indexed journals. Professor Peijun Shi, Director of the Laboratory, has collaborated with Professor Carlo Jaeger of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany and other specialists to initiate the IHDP-IRG international core project, which has become the first major science program initiated by Chinese scientists in the field of global change science.

The Laboratory has established an open-style educational system. Based on open collaboration, the Laboratory offers master-degree and doctoral-degree education (including collaborative education) and postdoctoral research opportunities, as well as joint-research opportunities for Chinese and international visiting scholars. At present, the Laboratory has 8 Ph.D. programs that enroll 135 doctoral students, and 15 master’s degree programs that enroll 131 master’s candidates.

The Laboratory adopts an open collaboration mechanism encouraging free exchange of researchers. By establishing the open fund and announcing open research topics on a regular basis, it has attracted Chinese and overseas scholars and researchers with high academic credentials to work here or collaborate with the Laboratory to apply for major cutting-edge or high national importance research projects. The Laboratory also conducts multichannel and multilevel academic exchanges, organizes, hosts, and participates in Chinese and international academic forums and symposiums; it proactively establishes high-end academic exchanges and collaborations with renowned Chinese and overseas universities and research institutes; and it collaborates with Chinese and international scholars in an intensive and extensive way and facilitates visits and academic exchanges between Chinese and overseas researchers.