Five research organizations join forces to create lake ecosystems R&D center

Signature of the agreement to establish the ECLA center
Signature of the agreement to establish the ECLA center

On April 3, 2019, the French Agency for Biodiversity (AFB), the National Institute of Agricultural Research (Inra), the National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture (Irstea), the National Agency for Hunting and Wildlife (ONCFS) and the University of Savoie Mont-Blanc (USMB) met at AFB headquarters in Vincennes to sign an agreement creating the Lake Ecosystems (ECLA) Research and Development Center.

A scientific consortium created to better understand lake ecosystems

From left to right: O. Thibault - Director-General, ONCFS; P. Mauguin - CEO, Inra; P. Michelet - Deputy Director-General, AFB; M. Michel - President, Irstea; R. Kossakowski - Vice-President, University of Savoie Mont Blanc

When it was initially created in 2010, the R&D center was called “Lake Hydroecology” and included only two partners, Onema and Irstea. This collaborative work method - particularly innovative at the time - aimed to bring together researchers and agents from partner organizations within a single work community to build and develop common scientific projects. The center focused on research contributing to the creation of public policy and made it possible to accelerate the transfer of knowledge towards the industrial sphere.

This experience created a rich partnership between scientists from different professional backgrounds. The next logical step was to expand the partnership. AFB, Inra, Irstea, ONCFS and USMB jointed forces to launch the ECLA R&D center, a scientific consortium striving to foster interactions between the research, public policy, social and environmental spheres. This new organization aims to become a national reference center for research, development and innovation in biodiversity conservation and in ecosystem operation and services of lake environments.

“Club of 5” to provide wide-ranging expertise

Now that it has expanded to include 5 partners, the center can:

  • widen its field of expertise to include different types of stagnant water ecosystems (from large natural lakes to small bodies of water and artificial reservoirs) and more biodiversity components (microorganisms, plants, invertebrates, fish, birds, etc.);
  • share human and financial resources over the next 6 years, to support biodiversity conservation and restoration as well as lake ecosystem operations through research and development programs.

Forging a link between scientific expertise and fieldwork (training, structures, digital applications, demonstration sites, expertise, etc.) is one of the cornerstones of the center, which will aim to:

  • Develop innovative operational tools to monitor the ecology of lake ecosystems;
  • Improve our understanding of the state and trajectories of these ecosystems within a context of global change (particularly climate change and invasive species);
  • Support effective environmental restoration for lake ecosystems;
  • Bolster biodiversity conservation, particularly for overseas regions where the understanding of lake ecosystems remains fragmented;
  • Support the creation of public policies and good management for lake ecosystems by encouraging research led by the center and making use of its expertise.