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National Network for Plant Biology Research in Norway

Goal
A national network for plant biology research has been established in Norway. The goal is to secure better funding for plant science and to strengthen the quality of Norwegian plant research through coordinated actions and utilization of resources among the partners.

Members
All universities involved in plant science, i.e. University of Oslo (UiO), The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU, Trondheim), University of Stavanger (UiS), University of Tromsø (UiT), University of Bergen (UiB), and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences at Ås (UMB, EPSO member), and two research institutes: ‘Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research (BIOFORSK)’ and ‘The Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute’, are founding members of the network.

Organization and funding
The network is organized as a project with academic and administrative members from all partner institutions, and its activities has so far mainly been funded by the institutions involved. A white paper entitled ‘Planter – vår felles framtid (Plants – our common future)’ has been developed focussing on the current local and global challenges involving plants as central elements, e.g. climate change, food production, bioenergy, food/feed and health, and biotechnology. The network is currently in active dialogs with funding bodies like the Research Council of Norway (RCN) and the different ministries to discuss how funding of plant science in Norway could be improved. Currently funding of plant science is scattered over many small research programmes in RCN. A major goal is to establish a large plant science research programme encompassing as broad a range of plant sciences as possible, and integrated from fundamental to applied science. The network realizes that this is a tremendous challenge and highly dependent on fresh money being allocated to plant research in Norway. In our endeavour we are actively using the information and experience gained by EPSO and the ETP ‘Plants for the future’ in improving the status of plant science in Europe.

The climate change challenges we are facing calls for unified actions with regard to plant sciences in its widest sense, and in particular for Norway as one of the northernmost countries.

Joint strategic projects
  • The Plant Network has together with research environments dealing with physical, chemical and biotic parameters regarding soil, atmosphere and water, been granted support from RCN to a pre-project for a large Infrastructure research proposal called “BIOKLIMA– Large Scale Facility for Studying Climate Effects in Natural Ecosystems and Agroecosystems”. This is a very advanced climate-regulated facility for plant research. The proposal will be submitted during 2011 and will have an economic frame of 200 Mill NOK (See www.bioklima.info). This proposal will in itself, gathering the entire research environment of Norway in a unified “theme” BIOKLIMA, be a major achievement in plant sciences, regardless of the outcome.
  • In December 2009 the network submitted a proposal for a new and large research programme to RCN. The program proposal spans from basic research to various applied aspects by is centered on the challenges and possibilities the climate changes represent for Norway. This program proposal has been well received by the research council and the relevant ministries (Ministry of Education and Research, Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Ministry of the Environment), but so far no funding has been allocated. The research proposal will form the basis for plant biology part of the BIOKLIMA infrastructure proposal.

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