The origins of SPWD in 1982 can be traced to the need to do something about land degradation which was assuming alarming proportions by the late 70s early 80s. The understanding was that degraded lands could be reclaimed and put to more productive use. With a livelihood focus to natural resource management, SPWD focused on identification of needs of the local communities on one hand, documentation of technologies in the field and development of appropriate institutional mechanisms to deal with the concrete issues emerging on the ground. Concretely water, land, forests, pastureland and animal husbandry have been the starting point for an understanding of different types of ecological systems and their relationship with livelihoods. SPWD sees these relationships play themselves out on the ground in terms of natural resource scalars.
The diversity of initiatives spawned has led SPWD to develop its understanding on issues relating to ecology and livelihoods on the one hand and a concrete study of governance structures appropriate for multi layered, multi nested natural resources on the other. The series of interactive regional and national workshops held during SPWD Silver jubilee year, unfolded a number of these dimensions. The challenge before SPWD now is how to give concrete shape to this understanding on the ground.