Lake Võrtsjärv, located in Estonia, is the country's second largest freshwater lake and a significant natural landmark of ecological importance. Covering an area of approximately 270 km², Lake Võrtsjärv lies within the embrace of the Estonian landscape and contributes to the country's biodiversity and cultural heritage.
Despite its large surface area, Lake Võrtsjärv is a shallow lake with an average depth of 2,8 m. On average, the lake used to be covered with ice 130 days a year (from December to April), a pattern which changes with climate change.
· EU Natura 2000
The lake is an important habitat for nesting and migratory birds. There are 35 different species of fish, including fish of commercial value. The surrounding wetlands and marshes add to the ecological richness and provide nesting sites for many bird species. Lake Võrtsjärv plays an important role in supporting wildlife and is an important stopover for migratory birds.
Lake Võrtsjärv is a heaven for nature lovers, and an integral part of Estonia’s cultural heritage. The lake and its surroundings have influenced the local traditions, folklore and way of life of the communities living along its shores. The serene beauty of the lake and the changing seasons make it a source of inspiration for artists and a destination for those seeking tranquility in the heart of Estonia.
Lake Võrtsjärv is threatened by eutrophication. The main causes for eutrophication come from agricultural activities within the lake basin boundaries. The fast expansion of reed thickets and the deterioration of biological diversity are a clear evidence of the eutrophication of the lake during the last decades.
The Peipsi Centre for Transboundary Cooperation (Estonia) works closely with local schools and communities, as well as with universities. It runs several environmental education programmes for schools, organises nature tours, and develops nature education materials (online and printed). Together with the municipality of Peipisääre, they run an educational exhibition on Lake Peipsi.
Co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or CINEA. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.