Biodiversity loss, climate change, land degradation, freshwater supply and air pollution are major issues on the global political agenda. Moreover, Europe has committed itself to encourage research on - among others - environmental legislation, ecosystem protection and tighter control on invasive alien species. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) identified – among many knowledge gaps – the lack of (basic) data on the functioning of different ecosystems. These data are essential for any study related to ecosystem services, biodiversity and climate change.
To enhance the interdisciplinary research opportunities and to accommodate (part of) this research and its researchers CMK has established a Field Research Centre (FRC) in Terhills-Connecterra, the main entrance to the national park Hoge Kempen (NPHK). It hosts a field lab (for researchers and students) and office facilities for researchers, there is an ecosystem measuring tower (in collaboration with Antwerp University within the ESFRI-ICOS framework) and the unique Ecotron research infrastructure. The Ecotron Hasselt University consists of 12 sophisticated semi-automated ecosystem chambers, including 12 large lysimeters, that will allow controlled studies of specific ecosystems (monoliths) and thereby safeguarding the real-time and realistic sunlight.