Heading : Research on the impact of human activities on ecosystems

Laboratoire d'excellence (labex)

Development context of the BASC LabEx (H2)

The BASC LabEx (Laboratory of Excellence) results from the need to measure and limit the negative environmental impacts from human activities, and to evaluate and develop strategies combining ecosystems, societies and climate to curb any potential disturbances caused by global changes. BASC will be a key player in the formation and development of socio-ecosystem innovations, which will help with developing society, and reforming institutions and the economy. It brings together more than 400 researchers from AgroParisTech, CEA (Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives – French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energy Commission), CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique – National Centre for Scientific Research), INRA (Institut national de la recherche agronomique – National Institute of Agricultural Research), IRD (Institut de recherche pour le développement – Research Institute for Development), Université Paris-Sud, Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and Université Pierre et Marie Curie.

Varied disciplinary skills, adapted to complex socio-ecosystem issues

The aim of BASC is to create a consortium of thirteen laboratories involved in understanding and forecasting the dynamic of socio-ecosystems. BASC will be based on the complementary relationship between partner teams to understand and model interactions among various ecosystem components (terrestrial ecosystems, climate and society), and their responses to global changes. This interdisciplinary research program draws on several disciplines and skills in :

  • climatology/meteorology ;
  • genetics ;
  • evolutionary biology ;
  • ecology ;
  • agronomy ;
  • social sciences and economics ;
  • modelling ;
  • observation systems.

BASC encourages the emergence of an integrated understanding of environmental issues, as well as the development of a sustainable management of socio-ecosystems based on a large potential innovation and knowledge transfer.

BASC for research, education and innovation

"Territory" as a reference area for research (H3)

The BASC research areas are varied-use areas in temperate regions in France, Europe and developing countries. The LabEx reference scale is the "Territory ": a geographical area that has common social, political, legal, cultural and ecological characteristics (approximately 100 to 100,000 km²). One of the unifying themes in the research to be conducted is the application of agro-ecological concepts and methods for (long-term) sustainability, and the resilience of agro-ecosystems and all agricultural lands to future changes.

BASC LabEx dual research strategy

The research plan focuses on long-term (eight-year) strategic projects and short-term (3- 4-year) flagship projects. It also relies on a number of networks and annual tenders. BASC is also committed to participating in the development of national and European tenders, which strongly support its activities and the successful integration of its research with that of its European partners.

LabEx has three interconnected and interdisciplinary areas among its long-term strategic projects that are focused on the forecasting and understanding of :

  • the dynamic interaction between causes of global change (climate change, land use, pollution and invasive species) and their impact on biodiversity, ecosystems and socio-ecosystems ;
  • the ability of organisms, ecosystems and social structures to adapt to global change ;
  • technical and social innovations required for the transition of socio-ecosystems towards a sustainable development policy.

The three flagship projects each correspond to three strategic areas which involve other areas of research :

  • understanding and modelling dynamic interactions between the climate, atmospheric chemistry, functioning of ecosystems and changes in land use ;
  • understanding the genetic, epigenetic and evolutionary background of the adaptation and application of these concepts to improve the resilience of agro-ecosystems.
  • the management and improvement of biodiversity for a sustainable socio-economic system, aimed at reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides through agro-ecological concepts.

Finally, two BASC projects combine the themes of the above three areas :

  • sustainable development of exurban areas ;
  • development of tools and concepts for modelling dynamic interactions with economic and social sciences and considering the complexity of these models.

Commitment to training and higher education

The LabEx will provide training to support the development of a broad scientific vision on sustainable development, and will emphasise the contribution of disciplinary research to interdisciplinary goals. The BASC training program focuses on creating synergies among several current Master and Doctorate degrees, and increasing their appeal to elite French and foreign students.

The objectives of the LabEx over the next three years are :

  • to establish joint courses in all Master and Doctorate degrees that focus on the interfaces between programs ;
  • to implement international summer schools in relation to the strategic objectives ;
  • to create on-going training programs for scientists from the LabEx and the private sector.

Our long-term goals are to create an international Master’s program and a BASC higher education institute within the Université Paris-Saclay.

A close collaboration with its partners in the private and research sectors

There is a growing interest from the private sector, large firms (Suez Environnement), SMEs (Force A, CLIMPACT) and Technical Institutes (ARVALIS, CETIOM) and public decision makers for applied research into :

  • climate ;
  • the protection and restoration of biodiversity and natural resources ;
  • ecosystems and the services that they provide.

BASC members are already working with some of these partners in collaborative research projects and knowledge and technology transfers. The LabEx will strengthen and expand these relationships, particularly through the focus it brings to developing tools to assist with decision-making.