Karla lake, an environmental experiment, a valuable newly formed old ecosystem

A formerly productive, valuable, natural ecosystem, Lake Karla, Thessaly, Greece was artificially drained in 1962 and the land was given to local farmers for crops cultivation. Lake was eutrophicated before its draining (Ananiadis 1956), that destroyed the 2/3 of the wetland. Groundwater over-exploitation and intensive farming, mostly of water-intensive monocultures, resulted in a drop of the aquifer level and a rise in soil salinity. This led to repeatedly low agricultural yields and eventually to land pollution and desertification, thus affecting directly the local economy.

The plan in the 1990s was the re-establishment of a water-body that could act as a multi-services reservoir for providing the region with drinking and irrigation water and as a tourist attraction. In 2010 the lake reconstruction was over. The newly reconstructed Lake Karla situates in (39o26’49’’-39o32’03’N and 22o46’47’’-23o51’50’’E) the lower part of the former natural lake (Figure 1). Features originally included in the design, along with other measures, for the best functioning of the lake are: a) Wetland buffer zones, in form of channels for drainage water with reedbeds and halophytic vegetation, b) Riparian zones, a “first line of defense” against farmland washout, c) Establishment of bird nesting areas on artificial islets, d) Fish-breeding sites with standard depth favoring carp reproduction to boost fishing potential resulted  

Due to technical issues, budget flow and unfinished works, the lake is smaller and shallower than had been designed, with extremely long water retention time, suffering from water level drop, eutrophication and cyanobacterial blooms, and water quality deterioration (Chamoglou et al., 2014). The lake is protected by both National and International laws and treaties (Ramsar, Natura 2000 network, SPA for birds, Wildlife Shelter) and is characterized as a vital aquatic ecosystem in terms of biodiversity and values offered to society. EcoSustain results will strengthen the knowledge on in-lake processes, and provide interannual patterns on certain aspects in the best interest of an optimal design of a program of measures.