The sustainable use of natural resources is essential for the survival and development of mankind. The increasing needs and demands for natural resources such as forests and forest related resources, wildlife and fisheries urgently calls for sustainable management of these resources. There is clear evidence that anthropogenic activities are leading to problems of climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation. It is undeniable that greenhouse gases emission from deforestation and forest degradation are causing harm to our environment. Industrial growth and unsustainable agricultural practices are also resulting in loss of biodiversity and soil quality respectively leading to decreased soil productivity. Problems the country and the world at large are facing justify the need for professionally trained human resources in sustainable management of natural resources and conservation agriculture such as agroforestry. Generally, there has been a scarcity of professionally trained human resources in the sustainable management of natural resources in Zambia and elsewhere in Africa. The School of Natural Resources was set up to adequately train and produce professionals in agroforestry, fisheries and aquaculture, forestry, wildlife management and, wood science and technology.

In 1995, the School of Natural Resources started operating as  one of the Schools of the Copperbelt University to offer degree programmes in Agroforestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Forestry, Wildlife Management and, Wood Science and Technology.
In 1996, the first student intake was enrolled for the Bachelor of Science Degree in Forestry only. Other undergraduate degree programmes were later introduced as follows: Wood Science and Technology in 2002;  Agroforestry in 2006;  Wildlife Management, Fisheries and Aquaculture in 2009; Bioenergy Science, Plant and Environmental Sciences as well as Sustainable Natural Resource Management and Climate Change in 2016 and most recent, Aquatic Resource Science and Management in 2020.