Alpine rivers as society's lifelines


The Soča (Isonzo) Basin is an Adriatic basin which straddles the boundaries of Slovenia and Italy. Regionally it is divided in the upper, middle and lower Soča Basins. The upper Soča Basin is entirely within Slovenia, and covers alpine and sub-alpine areas downstream to the confluence with Idrijca river or Idrijca catchment area. A major part of the middle Soča Basin is situated in Slovenia; it ends when the Soča River meets Goriško/Gorizia area. The lower Soča Basin within Slovenia consists of a small part of Nadiža/Natisone catchment and a bigger part of Vipava/Vipacco catchment area.

Activities will be focused mostly on the upper part and Idrijca catchment area, which cover around 1250 km2, half of the size of the entire Soča Basin. Mostly due to its alpine character this area is sparsely populated: it has around 34.000 inhabitants. Besides drinking water supply the main water users are fish farms and small hydropower plants, and because of the attractive natures and well preserved environment there is much tourism and recreation (fishing, rafting, kayaking and canyoning). Since the area is mostly alpine and annual precipitation is very high (more than 3,200 mm in some areas) flooding, landslide and sediment transport hazards are high.

Many initiatives put additional pressure on water and riparian areas in the area; however, at the same time action is undertaken to preserve the river basin’s natural characteristics. The objective is therefore to support implementation of integrated river management, and to promote inter-sectoral cooperation, harmonization and decision making which takes into account the importance of intact river ecosystems while enabling social and economic development of the area based on the principles of sustainability and the application of ecosystem services concept on the rivers of Posočje and beyond.

Sašo Šantl, eMail