Set up in February 2011 under the 7th Euratom Framework Programme for Research and Development, and lasting four and a half years, STAR (STrategy for Allied Radioecology) was the first Network of Excellence for Radioecology ever set up in Europe.
Background and Objectives
STAR came into being as a result of discussions that started with the Futurae (Future for Radioecology in Europe) project for coordinated action under the FP6 Euratom program (2007-2009). The aim of the Futurae project was to review the state of European research and expertise in the field of Radioecology, and assess the feasibility of developing a Network of Excellence. The conclusions of this review were alarming - funding cuts, the risk of facilities closing, research teams being dispersed and a lack of training for younger researchers to take over from senior experts as they retire - leading to the European Radioecology Alliance (ALLIANCE) being set up, as confirmed in a letter of intent signed in June 2009 by nine European partners in the field, and the subsequent development of an associative platform. Thanks to ALLIANCE, which implements the desire to pool knowledge, infrastructure and research priorities across Europe, a proposal to set up the STAR network was submitted to the European Commission.
With European Commission funding worth €4 million and a total budget of €8 million, the STAR network, coordinated by IRSN, brought together 11 international partners (IRSN, STUK, SCK•CEN, NERC-CEH, CIEMAT, SU, BfS, NRPA, NMBU, SUNY, TOKAI). STAR aimed to strengthen Radioecology in Europe, to create an "effective European Research Area for Radioecology". To this end, the network worked toward sharing and organizing the knowledge, infrastructure and research programs developed by the various partners.
To achieve these objectives, STAR was organized into Work Packages, with a joint program of activities based around integrating and sharing infrastructure (WP-2), education and training (WP-6), managing and disseminating knowledge (WP-7), and three specific collaborative research programs exploring the following priority subjects:
- Develop and propose an integrated approach for assessing the radiological risk for humans and the environment (WP-3),
- Examine the relevance of taking into account the context of multi-pollution, which could modify the risk estimated for pollutants taken in isolation on account of interactions between contaminants (WP-4),
- Determine relevant ecological effects for situations of exposure to low doses and propose associated environmental protection criteria (WP-5).
STAR project outcomes
The key outcomes of the project include:
- A Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), produced to structure and prioritize Radioecology research needs for the coming 15 years. The SRA is already being used as the basis for new calls for projects in Radioecology.
- Implementation of tools designed to improve effective integration and collaboration, leading to knowledge and data sharing and dissemination, mainly through the central Radioecology website (www.radioecology-exchange.org). This website includes:
- A catalog of the facilities available in Europe
- A virtual lab providing access to a number of methods, protocols, and models used in Radioecology
- A list of sites that serve as field observatories for Radioecology research,
- Training programs consolidated and developed at European level
- A tool developed to perform integrated assessments of radiological risks to health and the environment (CROMERICA)
- An assessment of the suitability of the criteria currently used in environmental radiation protection in more realistic exposure situations (including the presence of multiple contaminants and chronic exposure to low doses); and the proposal of more suitable and effective criteria for ecological protection.
The outcomes of the STAR project were presented at a final meeting held on June 9 -11, 2015 in Aix-en-Provence (France). The presentations can be found at (final dissemination event: agenda, presentations & posters).
List of deliverables from the STAR project, by category:
Integration and dissemination of radioecology at the European level:
Education and Training
Protection frameworks for wildlife – advancing the underlying science through integrated research
Evaluating the robustness of ecological radiation protection criteria
Are radiation protection benchmarks for wildlife protective enough in a multiple stressor context?
The STAR toolbox: advancing radiation risk assessment