iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Assessment of the protective function of forests against debris flows in a gorge of the Slovenian Alps

Gal Fidej (1)   , Matjaž Mikoš (2), Tihomir Rugani (1), Jernej Jež (3), Špela Kumelj (3), Jurij Diaci (1)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 8, Issue 1, Pages 73-81 (2015)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor0994-007
Published: Jun 17, 2014 - Copyright © 2015 SISEF

Research Articles

Protection forests play an important role in mitigating the influence of natural hazards. Despite the growing need for protective functions due to aging forests and increased risk of natural disturbances, active forest management has become increasingly uncommon across the Alps. Active management of protection forests can be facilitated by state subsidies. This requires an objective delineation of forests with a direct protection function and the development of silvicultural techniques that mitigate natural hazards. A study of protection efficiency of beech-dominated forests in the Soteska gorge in NW Slovenia, where a main state road and railway are at risk from debris flows and rockfall, was performed. We assessed the starting points of debris-flow hazard based on a small-scale geological survey of the terrain characteristics and a local debris flow susceptibility map. We applied the TopRunDF model for determination of the run-out zones. Forest structure data were obtained from 26 sample plots. A detailed description and delineation of forest stands was performed. The results showed that these forests play an important role in the protection of infrastructure. Forest protection efficiency can be improved by stand thinning for stability and careful planning of regeneration patches over time and space. In areas where silvicultural measures cannot provide sufficient protection, technical measures are needed. Since these forests have not been managed for several decades, natural disturbances (windthrow) are frequent. Research findings suggest that regular assessment and management of these beech-dominated protection forests are necessary, contrary to the current practice of non-management in protection forests in Slovenia.


Protection Forest, Protection Function, Debris Flow, TopRunDF, Beech Forest

Authors’ address

Gal Fidej
Tihomir Rugani
Jurij Diaci
Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana (Slovenia)
Matjaž Mikoš
Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana (Slovenia)
Jernej Jež
Špela Kumelj
Geological Survey of Slovenia, Ljubljana (Slovenia)

Corresponding author



Fidej G, Mikoš M, Rugani T, Jež J, Kumelj Š, Diaci J (2015). Assessment of the protective function of forests against debris flows in a gorge of the Slovenian Alps. iForest 8: 73-81. - doi: 10.3832/ifor0994-007

Academic Editor

Raffaele Lafortezza

Paper history

Received: Mar 21, 2013
Accepted: Feb 24, 2014

First online: Jun 17, 2014
Publication Date: Feb 02, 2015
Publication Time: 3.77 months

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