In north-eastern Italy lies a remarkable gravel-bed river that retains the dynamic natural and morphological complexity that must have characterised many Alpine rivers in their pristine stage.
The Tagliamento River stretches 178 km in length and is considered as one of the last morphologically intact rivers in the Alps.
For some of Europe's leading universities and research centres, the river offers a rare opportunity to investigate natural processes at a scale that can be studied nowhere else in Europe.
This remarkable river corridor exemplifies the ecological processes and patterns that must have characterised Alpine rivers in their most pristine state.
Clearly, the Tagliamento is a river ecosystem of European importance. It is a unique resource and a model reference catchment.
But it is also a highly endangered ecosystem.
Despite its high degree of naturalness, the river is not without human impacts. Water abstraction in the upper Tagliamento valley, organic pollution, and gravel exploitation are threatening the integrity of the main river corridor. Many of its small tributaries contain drop structures built to inhibit erosion and channel incision.
The regional government is planning 14 km2 of large flood retention basins in one of the most natural sections of the river. If we want to protect one of the last naturally flowing rivers in the Alps, we need to act fast.
For the WWF European Alpine Programme, the Tagliamento river system is a symbol, a "panda of rivers", that deserves the highest protection. WWF is actively working to protect the Tagliamento.
What We Do
A Crucial Fight: The Tagliamento River is one of the last morphologically intact rivers in the Alps. WWF is actively working to protect this natural river system.