Green Infrastructure solutions for an integrated and sustainable water management
During the last decades many Alpine rivers have been straightened and channelized to create space for agriculture, settlements and infrastructures, interrupted in their longitudinal continuity by dams for hydropower production, reservoirs and weirs, as well as modified in their lateral connectivity by concrete walls and artificial embankments. Even if these measures have turned out to be successful and effective for their sectoral scope, they have produced in several cases significant impacts on the ecological connectivity, on hydro-morphological processes and solid transport of the affected watercourses, leading to reduced effectiveness of flood protection measures, lowering of groundwater levels and loss of biotopes for animals and plants. A growing understanding of these specific impacts on the environment and other sectors has led to an increased awareness of the need to restore Alpine rivers.
The objective of this initiative is to promote measures for river restoration with particular reference to “green infra-structure” solutions, which contribute to the implementation of both the EU Water Framework Directive and the EU Flood Directive, guaranteeing the reduction of flood risk and multiple benefits for water quality, nature and biodiversity both for upstream and downstream areas. One of these is river and floodplain restoration through natural water retention measures instead of building costly new water infrastructures.
What has been achieved?
A good practice collection and the corresponding recommendations concerning green infrastructure solutions for four types of Alpine rivers were developed. The examples and suggestions for action refer to the upstream part of Alpine rivers and torrents in less populated valleys, to river stretches in paved valley floors with intensive land use, to Alpine foreland river stretches and to river stretches in urban areas.
Coherence with EUSALP Action Plan
The initiative is fully in line with the EUSALP Action Plan, which addresses in its Action 6 the necessity of decreasing fragmentation in rivers and other ecosystems limiting water management impacting biodiversity in the Alpine Region based on river basin units.