Reviving the European Institute of Ecology in Metz

Metz is taking steps to restore the international reputation of the Cloître des Récollets, which flourished during the time of Jean-Marie Pelt. Renovations amounting to 8 million euros have been initiated, with 800,000 euros contributed by the city in 2024. A scientific program is also being revitalized at the European Institute of Ecology. It’s hard to believe that 50 years ago, this dilapidated place would become the cradle of ecology, thanks to a rugby player!

In the early 1970s, the Cloître des Récollets was in a deplorable state. However, it was at this location that the concept of an institute bridging the gap between the University and its environment was conceived, as explained by the renowned botanist Jean-Marie Pelt. Under an order dated March 23, 1972, the facades, roofs, and galleries of the Récollets were classified as Historical Monuments. Thanks to the efforts of Mayor Jean-Marie Rausch, his deputy Jean-Marie Pelt, and Roger Klaine, the birthplace of urban ecology was renovated and continues to benefit from a restoration program totaling 8 million euros.

Jean-Marie Pelt, along with other founders of the institute, chose the Cloître after exploring five possible locations provided by municipal services. Among them was Jean-Marie Jouany, a professor of toxicology at the pharmacy faculty in Nancy. In 1972, he joined the newly created Ecology Department at the University of Metz, where Jean-Marie Pelt was teaching botany and plant physiology. Interestingly, Jean-Marie Jouany, the ecotoxicologist, was also a rugby player.

The European Institute of Ecology served as a prominent hub for discussions on new urbanism, rejecting the Athens Charter and emphasizing the integration of nature into the city for sustainable development. In addition to urban ecology, the institute also focused on ecotoxicology and ethnopharmacology, with a diploma program recognized by the University of Lorraine.

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