On the Ile-de-France scale, The Federation Ile-de-France for Research on the Environment (FIRE), created in 2007, deals with environmental issues relating to continental surfaces and interfaces at relevant scales taking into account human activities and management. FIRE focuses on issues related to nesting of scales: from plot to exploitation, from landscape and territories from local to regional scales, from heads-waters and aquifers to large rivers ans coastal zone. Together with the concept of land-to-sea continuum, others such as the critical zone and the territorial ecology are mobilized too. A very wide area of disciplines are gathered, from soil microbiology to aerosols transfers, from urban metabolism and environmental imprints to biogeochemical modelling, … A large number of teams and research units (19) are actively participating in this multi-level approach with their very diverse but complementary skills.

During the 2014-2018 contract/madate/period of the FIRE Reseach Federation, the question of the inter-relations between urban and rural areas, is the focus of the scientific questioning. The key problems related to water, soils, biodiversity changes and to socio-ecological trajectories of cities and their rural hinterlands, are   together studied according to two main axis rural and urban areas. A transversal third axis taking benefit of the two  first ones, deals with the organization of the hydro-agro-food- systems in a prospect of territorial ecology. In addition fourth axis is elaborating a methodological modelling plateform chaining existing tools allowing synthetizing and linking the knowledge gained : 

Axis 1: the environmental issues of rural development in catchment areas and large watersheds.
Axis 2: The challenges of urban and peri-urban development
Axis 3: the functioning of the hydro-agro food systems
Axe 4 The elaboration of a  modelling plateform of the water-agrofood system at watershed scales.

Research topics of FIRE combine approaches based on existing databases analysis but also data acquisitionfrom laboratory experiments and field studies. Inquiries and archives analysis are also methodological approaches that are possibly put in perspective with possible modelling tools.
The teams of FIRE with nationally and internationally recognized expertise want to answer important questions such as:

  1. How are food and water supplies in big cities (Paris) organized within territories on which these cities depend on ? What kind of connectivity exist between an hydrographic basin and the basin supplying water for the population and its activities ?

  2. How urbanization changes or contaminates the hydrological cycle, the elements (nutrient, pollutants, …) and the associated ecosystem services ? How waste and effluents can represent time bombs or opportunities (cf. unrecognized resources) ? How can the city be re-structured to ensure connectivity between natural and semi-natural territories (agricultural, extramural green spaces)? Can the city be a link of awareness and training to nature, biodiversity and more generally to sustainable development? Is biodiversity attractive?

  3. How far the knowledge can be actually translated in a compatible governance of water and agriculture with the increasing urbanization ?

  4. What have been the socio-ecological trajectories (during the last 50 years) with which pressures, levers and choices? How have these trajectories been shaped How can a socio-ecological transition be thought today?

  5. Can we tend towards a sustainable management of the resources thanks to a better knowledge of the critical zone by taking into account social processes ?

  6. Can we combine a sustainable agriculture that can feed the world while protecting water resources and biodiversity? How do soils play a key-role in the production of ecosystemic services ?

  7. Can we combate eutrophication issues and or pollution of aquatic system including surface waters (rivers, lakes, coastal zone, aquifers)? What would be the good practices in managing hydro- agro- food systems as to minimize effect on pollution?

  8. How the knowledge of the hydrological, biogeochemical and agronomical functioning of watersheds together with the analysis of the socio-ecosystems could contribute to the implementation of Europeans and national directives and regulations ?

  9. What are the role, the future and services of biodiversity ? What is the resilience capacity of biodiversity to global change? What are the benefits/burdens of natural, anthropogenic and urbanized ecosystems ? How to control and quantify them?

  10. What are the roles of interface zones in biodiversity conservation biogeochemical functioning and regulation of extreme events?