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SILMAS project

Background to the project

The major natural lakes in the Alpine arc have much in common in their physical, ecological and even socio-economic features. Despite the administrative boundaries, they all convey the same identity. These lakes are important not only for cultural and economic reasons, but also because of their emotional impact on anyone who has ever admired their beauty.

"May it live in your peace, may it be in your storms,
Beautiful lake, and in the light of your glad slopes,
And in these tall dark firs and in these savage rocks
Overhanging your waves


Taken from Lamartine's poem "The Lake", which he wrote with Lake Bourget in mind (translation by Andrea Moorhead).

Given how difficult it is to reconcile environmental protection and human activity, the lake managers (elected representatives, government bodies and local associations)decided to pool their experience to solve the problems they all faced.


The birth of the Alpine lake network

The Alpine lake network was created in 2004 as part of an earlier European project called ALPLAKES.

Over a three-year period, French, Italian, Austrian, Swiss and Slovenian institutions worked on a range of issues, including ecotourism, sustainable development and the environment of the Alpine lakes. The discussions and shared experience were recorded in a large body of documents, which can be found at:

On completion of the Alplakes project, the partners agreed that the work should be continued. Since 1 September 2009, Italy, France, Austria, Slovenia and Germany have once again been working in close partnership.