Irstea: a targeted research institute aimed at decision and action
Irstea, National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture is a public scientific and technical institute in joint supervision with the Ministry of Research and the Ministry of Agriculture and is holder of an agreement with the Ministry of Ecology, the co-signatory of its constitutive decree. This decree, dating from 1981, has just been revised in 2011.
Irstea, the new name for Cemagref has built a multidisciplinary and systemic approach to three domains – water, environmental technologies and land – which today form the basis of its strength and originality. The Institute is therefore establishing itself as the spearhead of the environment in support of public policies. This led us in 2010 to become the voice of environmental research by founding AllEnvi, the national alliance for environmental research, whose aim is to dedicate time for research in public debate on environmental challenges. Irstea has been president for the first two years.
Irstea’s main missions
- Initiating, implementing, coordinating and supporting, on the medium and long-term, on its own initiative or at the request of the government, all scientific and technological research in the areas of developing sustainable land management, especially agricultural and natural land, and their resources.
These research interests include:
- Addressing interactions between natural environments and agricultural and urban areas
- Managing water resources, improving water quality and aquatic environments other than marine environments
- Preventing, predicting and mitigating risks linked to pollution of ecosystems, water cycles and the safety of hydraulic works
- Managing and developing natural resources and biodiversity in forests and water
- Knowledge of the environment through observations in areas of specialisation
- Designing and developing procedures and technologies linked in particular to waste treatment processing, agricultural, forest and food sector activities and land use management
- Producing and utilising from research results, scientific and technological knowledge necessary to public policies and to promote standardisation
- Leading scientific and technical expertise projects
- Contributing to developing research results under the conditions set out by the research code
- Encouraging the publication of all works and studied linked to its activities and contributing to the dissemination of scientific and technical knowledge
- Providing support for higher education and research training and research in all areas of expertise
Areas of Activity
Irstea boasts a dual culture of researchers and engineers (mainly from the IPEF – bridge, water and forest engineers) who tackle environmental matters from three angles: research, innovation and expertise. By studying ecosystems on a countrywide basis, they provide indispensable theoretic knowledge to help understand ecosystems, and work to create solutions to reduce the impacts of human activity on the environment whilst providing expertise on public policies at the request of decision-makers.
Irstea’s researchers, engineers and technicians possess recognised scientific and technological leadership expertise in the following areas:
- Observing continental aquatic environments: ecotoxicology, water resources, water use
- Natural risks (floods, avalanches, forest fires, etc.) and environmental risks (operator exposure, the spread of pollution, failures in hydraulic structures, etc.)
- Land management: remote sensing and spatial information, landscape, biodiversity (forests, the green and blue corridor etc,), ecosystem services
- Local development: drivers for development, organising and setting up systems for participants, managing conflicts
Knowledge dissemination and training through research
Irstea contributes to public debate through its areas of expertise by disseminating its scientific and technological results in a wide variety of ways (publications, newsletters, patents, expert reports, etc.). It aims to spread knowledge to a large audience using suitable communication activities.
The institute is heavily involved with training though research by hosting doctoral and post-doctoral students every year in collaboration with doctoral schools, universities and higher education establishments.