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Estonian Journal of Earth Sciences
ISSN 1736-7557 (Electronic)
ISSN 1736-4728 (Print)
Impact Factor (2021): 0.811
Palaeolimnological assessment of the reference conditions and ecological status of lakes in Estonia - implications for the European Union Water Framework Directive; pp. 334–341
PDF | doi: 10.3176/earth.2009.4.11

Atko Heinsalu, Tiiu Alliksaar
The European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires an assessment of reference conditions for lakes, i.e. the conditions expected with only minimal human impact on water bodies. Limnological monitoring records seldom go back more than a few decades and so rarely document the onset of human impact on lakes. Methods of palaeolimnological approaches especially fitted for the purposes of the WFD are described and two case studies, on lakes Rõuge Tõugjärv and Pappjärv, are presented. The palaeolimnological study of Rõuge Tõugjärv demonstrated that a commonly held belief that man-made eutrophication of Estonian lakes is a relatively modern matter of concern and is related to post-industrial population growth and intensification of agriculture is a misconception. The lakes, particularly those in rich soil areas, have been mediated by human impact over millennial time-scales. In many European countries it has been agreed that AD 1850 approximately represents the reference conditions for lakes. Our observations in Rõuge Tõugjärv showed that during that period anthropogenic disturbance on the lake was the greatest. Lake Pappjärv is an example of recent human influence on the aquatic ecosystem that has undergone severe degradation due to infiltration into the ground of a variety of substances from the local bitumen plant, mineral fertilizer storage tanks, and road service sand and salt mixing-grounds that have been accumulating in the lake since the 1950s.

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