Irstea and the National Strategy for Biodiversity: summary of actions taken in 2015

For over 30 years, Irstea has worked on challenges relating to the conservation of biodiversity. Its recent scientific work, linking biodiversity to ecosystem operation and human activity, has helped change the perspective on this field.

So it was a foregone conclusion that Irstea would respond to the invitation made in 2013 by the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and the Sea to companies, local authorities, organizations, public institutions and trade unions to implement a National Strategy for Biodiversity (SNB). A total of 33 projects were awarded the "Recognized Commitment to the National Strategy for Biodiversity" label, including the project by Irstea, the only research institute.

How was Irstea’s commitment in 2015 assessed?

Based on a set of specific measurements for its 9 centers, Irstea’s commitment focuses on 3 main themes: research, communication, and ecological management of the centers.


Biodiversity, specifically the biodiversity of forest and freshwater environments, represents a central research pillar for the institute. In 2015, particular attention was paid to:

  • funding and supervising dissertations (5 defended in 2015 - 57 ongoing) and high-level students of biodiversity
  • publishing almost 150 articles in scientific journals and 5 books targeting a wide range of readers
  • participating in symposiums and conferences
  • and significant investment into research programs such as the "Water and Territories" program led by the Ministry of the Environment, the CNRS and Irstea.

Communication and visibility

The year 2015 was also an opportunity to assert the institute’s involvement in these subjects during events for professionals and the general public, such as the 5th National Convention on Biodiversity in Dijon or the Climate Change Challenge launched as part of COP21 and inspired by "hackathons." Five Irstea researchers were involved in the launch of the 1st Biodiversity MOOC (massive open online course for distance learning), where they were identified as experts in partnership with the National Museum of Natural History, Cirad, IRD, IFREMER, CNRS, Veolia and the Universities of Orleans, Montpelier and Pierre and Marie Curie.

This investment was rewarded several times during 2015 by prizes or nominations, including:

  • the "Coup de coeur" Biocleantech 2015 Prize awarded by Tremplin Entreprises for the BIOMAE start-up, created in 2014 by 3 Irstea scientists and specializing in ecotoxicology of aquatic environments.
  • Election of Alain Dutartre (a hydrobiologist and specialist in aquatic environments who has spent the majority of his career at Irstea) as president of the Aquitaine Regional Agency for Biodiversity.

Ecological management of the centers

Beehives at the Irstea Antony Center © Irstea / J. TournebizeAcross the 9 centers, actions served to underline the institute’s exemplary commitment to protecting biodiversity: clearing a fire perimeter, not mowing the grass to allow key plants for pollinators to flower, taking stock and conserving flora and fauna, certifying the sites as LPO (Society for the Protection of Birds) sanctuaries, managing green waste, installing hives and shared gardens, as well as providing events for staff to create social ties and links to the surrounding human and geographical environment.
These actions will be continued!

The national strategy for biodiversity

As the political response to the erosion of biodiversity, the national strategy for biodiversity brings stakeholders together around 3 central challenges:

  • Reinforce our capacity to act together for biodiversity at various local and regional levels
  • Use and make data and information relating to biodiversity more accessible to more people
  • Deal with new emerging issues, particularly relating to climate change and the benefits and services provided by ecosystems.

First implemented in 2004, the SNB is now on its second commitment phase for the period 2011-2020. Read about the SNB's 20 aims on the website of the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. 

For more information