The Tagliamento middle course

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Upon leaving the pre-Alps, the gravel bed of the Tagliamento widens to 2 km (even if in the past it was up to 3 km wide). In the intermediate stretch, the Tagliamento water divides into braided channels, the intertwined canals that make it so unique. During lean periods the canals narrow and sometimes disappear completely, also due to the use of water for various purposes including irrigation.

Credits: Eugenio Novajra

Braided channels are an increasingly rare fluvial morphology in European rivers. To create them, the river needs space, but unfortunately in the past rivers have often been canalized or reduced to a much narrower bed than they would have occupied naturally. Due to human interventions, around 90% of European river landscapes have been modified and only 40% are in good ecological condition. 85% of the large Alpine rivers have lost their braided channels.