A review of radioecology in Europe and a feasibility study into the establishment of a network of excellence of radioecology
The purpose of the European FUTURAE project ('A Future for Radioecology in Europe'), a component of the European Commission EURATOM Sixth Framework Program (FP6), was to carry out a feasibility study into the establishment of a network of excellence of radioecology as part of FP7. The aim of this network of excellence was to maintain and to strengthen expertise in radioecology at the European level.
Conclusions and recommendations
The Futurae project has therefore produced an analysis of the current state of radioecology in Europe. It has observed a considerable decrease in the amount of funding allocated within the various Member States as the Framework Programmes for Research and Development have progressed, as well as fragmentation of research teams, problems in coordinating the different business strategies and R&D programmes of the Member States, and a threat of some organisations' facilities being closed after the retirement of experts. In order to remedy these problems, the following recommendations have been made:
Recruit young scientists to take over from existing experts in radiation protection and nuclear crisis management;
Maintain and share specific equipment and facilities to address new social issues; and
By pooling resources and sharing research priorities, make research in radioecology the most efficient in Europe.
Organization of the project
Nine organisations from eight European countries have taken part in Futurae. The IRSN coordinated the project, which was agreed with the European Commission in August 2006 for a period of 2 years.
The Futurae project involved four working groups (WG):
WG1 has been responsible for carrying out a review of the current situation relating to research in the field of radioecology in Europe and throughout the world. The review has been based on the results of questionnaires sent to each research team active in the field.
WG2 has to investigate future requirements for research in radioecology through a series of consultations with a group of end-users representing manufacturers, radiological protection authorities, expert organizations and international bodies.
WG3 has worked on prioritizing these research actions with reference to existing research capacity in Europe.
Finally, WG4 has assessed the feasibility of a network of excellence on the basis of the conclusions reached by the other Groups. This Working Group will also make proposals relating to the structure of the network.