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Lake Facts

Update on the State of the World's Lakes
Many of the world's lakes are in crisis. Diversion of lake water for use in irrigation and industry, invasions of exotic plant and animal species, and contamination by toxic substances and nutrients from industry, farms, municipal sewage, and polluted urban runoff are common on a scale today that significantly threatens lake ecosystems on every continent but Antarctica.

In most parts of the world human impacts on lakes are spreading geographically and becoming more intense in quantity and quality due to human population increases and the globalization of trade, which has increased deforestation and the use of pesticides and fertilizers, and has spurred the spread of invasive species.

Fragmented and resource-poor lake management prevents, delays or distorts the efficient planning, implementing and enforcement of comprehensive, participatory watershed-wide lake management plans in both developed and developing countries. Transboundary lakes, particularly ones that cross international boundaries, have particularly difficult obstacles to overcome.

Despite the rich biological resources found in lake basins, programs to protect freshwater biodiversity have lagged far behind programs directed toward terrestrial or marine habitats. There continues to be little focus specifically on lake conservation, despite lakes' critical role in the freshwater cycle. Lakes and their watersheds are dramatically underrepresented both in protected areas and in conservation funding.

Much has been learned by citizens, scientists, government officials and others about how to effectively protect lakes. Now we need to collect these valuable lessons, disseminate them in usable forms and provide the training, support and funding to adapt effective strategies to local environments and successfully protect our lakes.

Why Lakes?


Abderrahman, W. 2000. Urban water management in developing arid countries. Water Resources Development 16(4).

Abramovitz, J. 1996. Imperiled waters, impoverished future: the decline of freshwater ecosystems. Worldwatch Paper 128. Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute.

Ayres, W., A. Busia, A. Dinar, R. Hirji, S. Lintner, A. McCalla, and R. Robelus. 1996. Integrated lake and reservoir management: World Bank approach and experience. World Bank Technical Paper No. 358. Washington, D.C.

Duda, A. and M. El-Ashry. 2000. Addressing the global water and environment crises through integrated approaches to the management of land, water and ecological resources. Water International 25(1): 115-126. Available on the web at: http://www.iwra.siu.edu/win/win90s.html#251.

Duker, L. 2001. The state of the world's lakes: A literature review. LakeNet Report Series, Number 1. Monitor International. Annapolis, Maryland USA.

French, H. 2000. Vanishing borders: protecting the planet in the age of globalization. Worldwatch Institute. Washington, DC.

Groombridge, B. and M. Jenkins. 1998. Freshwater biodiversity: a preliminary global assessment. UNEP and World Conservation Monitoring Centre. World Conservation Press.

Hall, S. and E. Mills. 2000. Exotic species in large lakes of the world. Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management 3:105-135.

Harrington, W. 1988. Enforcement leverage when penalties are restricted. Journal of Public Economics. 37:29-53.

Jorgensen, S. and S. Matsui, editors. 1997. Guidelines of lake management: The world's lakes in crisis 8. International Lake Environment Committee and the United Nations Environment Programme. Shiga, Japan.

Kaufmann, D. and A. Kraay, P. Zoido-Lobaton. 1999. Governance matters. http://www.worldbank.org/wbi/governance/gov_data.htm. World Bank. Washington, D.C.

Khan, H. and Q. Siddique. 2000. Urban water management problems in developing countries with particular reference to Bangladesh. Water Resources Development 16(1).

Lemly, D., Kingsford, R. and J. Thompson. 2000. Irrigated agriculture and wildlife conservation: conflict on a global scale. Environmental Management 25(5):485-512.

Olson, D. and E. Dinerstein. 1998. The global 200: a representation approach to conserving the earth's distinctive ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C.

Population Action International. 2000. Sustaining water: population and the future of renewable water supplies.

Postel, Sandra. 1999. Pillar of sand. Worldwatch Institute. Washington, D.C.

Revenga, C., S. Murray, J. Abramovitz and A. Hammond. 1998. Watersheds of the world: ecological value and vulnerability.

Revenga, C., J. Brunner, N. Henninger, K. Kassem, and R. Payne. 2000. Pilot analysis of global ecosystems: freshwater systems. World Resources Institute. Washington, DC.

Shiklomanov, I. 1993. "World fresh water resources." In P.H. Gleick (ed.), Water in crisis: A guide to the world's fresh water resources. Oxford University Press, New York.

Shumway, C. 1999. Forgotten waters: Freshwater and marine ecosystems in Africa. Biodiversity Support Program and New England Aquarium. http://www.neaq.org


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