GEF‐UNDP‐UNESCO Protection and Sustainable use of the Dinaric Karst Aquifer System (DIKTAS)

© Dreizung
Blue Lake (Plavo jezero), Croatia

A first ever global attempt to introduce sustainable integrated management principles in a transboundary karstic freshwater aquifer of the magnitude of the Dinaric Karst System.

The Dinaric Karst Aquifer System, shared by many countries and one of the world’s largest represents an ideal opportunity for applying new and integrated management approaches to these unique freshwater resources and ecosystems.

Final validation workshop, Venice October 2009

© A. Gospic
Dinaric Karst Aquifer System

held in the frame GEF-UNDP Regional Project on Protection and Sustainable Use of the Dinaric Karst Aquifer System. The regional project is endorsed for funding by GEF. UNESCO Chair INWEB is a partner in this venture.

Three main issues were addressed :

(1) Water quality: protection of recharge areas;

(2) Integrity of karst and coastal ecosystems: integrated management of hydraulic infrastructure ;

(3) Quality of lakes and coastal waters: reduction of nutrient runoff.


The term “karst” is applied to a specific geological landscape and morphology that develops wherever limestone formations, or other carbonatic rocks, constitute the bulk of the geological substratum of a region and outcrop over extensive areas.

Due to their solubility, these rock formations develop high permeability along fractures and faults, with the formation of sinkholes, chasms, underground streams, and caves.

“Karst” hydrogeology is characterized by high fracture controlled permeability, almost total absence of surface drainage (which has been largely diverted into subterranean routes), high infiltration rates and rapid underground flows of groundwater.

Geographical Area

The Dinaric Carbonate Platform represents one of most important karst aquifers globally. It is by far the major globally. It is by far the major source of freshwater  for Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania.

Key International Agreements & Guidance

  • The World Summit on Sustainable Development Plan of Implementation and its IWRM target
  • The Barcelona Convention and its Protocols
  • The EU Water Framework Directive
  • The EU Directive on the Protection of Groundwater Against pollution  and Deterioration
Back to top