What is the state of the Alpine rivers? How can we further develop integrative river management approaches? Led by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, nine partners from six Alpine countries have launched the project at a three-day Kick-Off meeting in Innsbruck in early April 2016.

Rivers are the lifelines of sustainable development in the Alps. They provide multiple ecosystem services such as clean drinking water for human consumption, irrigation for agriculture, they are home to a myriad of organisms, they provide recreation opportunities, and their power helps us to produce energy. However, Alpine river ecosystems are a vulnerable natural capital, which are often under pressure from various human activities and lack sufficient protection.

The project SPARE (Strategic Planning for Alpine River Ecosystems – Integrating protection and development) aims at contributing to a further harmonization of human use requirements and protection needs. Nine project partners from six Alpine countries are working together to

  • improve strategic river management approaches across different spatial and governance levels of the Alps, while integrating ecosystem services and participatory approaches
  • exchange, adapt and capitalize existing river management experiences and good practices
  • provide a pan-Alpine overview of the environmental status of rivers
  • identify ecologically sensitive river stretches as scientific foundations for protection strategies
  • promote awareness of the functions and services provided by Alpine rivers, as well as their vulnerability

SPARE lasts from December 2015 to December 2018 and is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Alpine Space programme.

For further information, please visit the SPARE homepage

Department of Water-Atmosphere-Environment
Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management (IHG)
Susanne Muhar | susanne.muhar(at)