LIFE STRŽEN - Improvement of Natura 2000 statuses with renaturation of Stržen's riverbed on intermittent Cerknica Lake

LIFE16 NAT/SI/000708

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Contact details:

Contact person: Irena LIKAR
Email: irena.likar@notranjski-park.si

Project description:


The natural water dynamics of the intermittent Lake Cerknica, admired for centuries for its unique features, were compromised during the 20th century by ‘improvements’ intended to drain the area to maximise its potential for agricultural use. The current hydro-dynamics is the major threat to the favourable conservation status of the temporary lake, and the habitat type, Turloughs, which is listed as a priority for conservation in Annex I of the Habitats Directive. Furthermore, a number of negative impacts have been recognised in the lake that adversely affect the breeding success of Eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris), a species listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive.


The main objective of the LIFE STRŽEN project is to improve the conservation status of the Habitats Directive priority habitat, Turloughs, by restoring the former Stržen riverbed. The watercourse will be prolonged by 1.5 km. This will have several positive effects, including an increased saturation of soil with water that will improve conditions for characteristic species of fish, invertebrates, birds and mammals. The project also aims at reducing the negative impact of visitors on the restored riverbed area and establishing quiet zones in the breeding habitat of the Eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris) in order to improve its breeding success. A further aim is to gain long-term support for its conservation actions among the general public, and a positive change of attitude among key stakeholders. Thus, the objectives are strongly linked to the EU Habitats and Birds directives, Biodiversity Strategy 2020, and Water Framework Directive.

Expected results:

  • Restoration of the former Stržen riverbed in the Natura 2000 network sites Notranjski trikotnik and Cerkniško jezero;
  • Extension of the riverbed by 1.5 km;
  • Improved hydrological conditions, by increasing soil humidity by 10-15%, enabling more water to be maintained in the target habitat type in drier periods of the year, over an area of 215 to 300 ha;
  • Establishment of a quiet zone for nesting Eurasian bittern covering at least 100 ha of the Cerknica lake;
  • Indirectly, these measures will have positive impacts on another 14 species of birds, aquatic invertebrates, mammals and fish of importance to the Natura 2000 network sites;
  • Reduction of the pressure from scattered visitors reduced by at least 80%; and
  • Increased awareness of the importance of the lake, especially among local people. At least 80% of the local inhabitants will be well informed about the project results and at least 500 000 people will become familiar with the project.



Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Freshwater
Species - Birds


restoration measure‚  environmental impact of tourism‚  river

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 2009/147 - Conservation of wild birds - Birds Directive (codified version of Directive ...
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...
  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 ...

Target species

 Botaurus stellaris     

Target Habitat types

  • 3180 - Turloughs

Natura 2000 sites

SPA SI5000015 Cerkniško jezero
SCI SI3000232 Notranjski trikotnik



Coordinator Notranjski regijski park
Type of organisation Park-Reserve authority
Description The Notranjsko regional park authority was established by the municipality of Cerknica to ensure the conservation and protection of the natural and cultural values of the park’s extensive area of regionally-typical ecosystems and landscape. The park authority has prepared guidelines for the inclusion of Lake Cerknica in the list of wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
Partners Zavod RS za varstvo narave, Slovenia HIDROTEHNIK Vodnogospodarsko podjetje d.d., Slovenia Zavod za ribištvo Slovenije, Slovenia Društvo za opazovanje in proučevanje ptic Slovenije, Slovenia


Project reference LIFE16 NAT/SI/000708
Duration 01-SEP-2017 to 31-AUG -2022
Total budget 3,820,163.00 €
EU contribution 2,863,212.00 €
Project location Notranjsko-kraska(Slovenia Slovenija)


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