Young natural paradise: Geiseltalsee is German "Living Lake of the Year 2023"


Young natural paradise: Geiseltalsee is German "Living Lake of the Year 2023"

– The Global Nature Fund and the Living Lakes Network Germany nominate the Geiseltalsee in the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt as "Living Lake of the Year 2023".
– The lake was created as part of recultivation measures in a former lignite mining area and has developed into a habitat for exceptional flora and fauna within 30 years.
– The protection of this young ecosystem requires close cooperation between all stakeholders at the lake and in the region in order to exclude any hazards from the very beginning.

Evening atmosphere at Geiseltalsee, the
"Living Lake of the Year 2023".
Foto © Heiko Günzel
Radolfzell, 22.03.2023: The Global Nature Fund (GNF) and the Living Lakes Network Germany (NLSD) nominate the Geiseltalsee in Saxony-Anhalt as "Living Lake of the Year 2023". The award is presented on the occasion of World Water Day today, March 22, and is a recognition of the outstanding achievements in restoring nature and creating a species-rich environment at and in the lake: within only 30 years, it has developed from a hostile pit in the middle of a barren mining landscape into a natural gem with a unique flora and fauna. The campaign is supported by various local players who are united by a common goal: NABU, the towns of Mücheln and Braunsbedra, representatives of diving and the Saalekreis district want to preserve the lake together for the future.
The unusual history of an ecosystem
The Geiseltalsee is located in the south of Saxony-Anhalt, has an area of 1,840 hectares, is up to 76 meters deep and has a water volume of 423 million cubic meters. The special feature: The lake was created as part of recultivation measures in the former Geiseltal lignite mining area northeast of Mücheln and is now the largest artificial lake in Germany. Together with other lakes, it forms the Geiseltal lake complex. Flooding of the residual open pit began in 2003 and was completed in 2011.

In the three decades since the end of open-cast mining, the lake's oligotrophic, i.e. nutrient-poor, ecosystem has developed an extraordinary flora and fauna adapted to the special conditions: it is home to 11 different stonewort algae, whose populations reach depths of 13 meters due to the clarity of the water. Various aquatic insects and fish species can be observed, as well as 240 bird species, including 108 breeding species and numerous migrants and winter visitors. Tundra shelduck, red-crested pochard, bee-eater and common tern are just a few of the birds worthy of protection that have found a new habitat here. The alternation between dump forests, loess escarpments, scrublands, grasslands and fallows, raw soils and reedbeds creates unique conditions for plants and birds in the newly created post-mining landscape.

Challenges of a young habitat
Lake Geiseltal is a natural paradise and a popular leisure destination for visitors from the region and beyond. To ensure that it can continue to be so, potential threats should be identified, addressed and dealt with in good time. As with many German lakes, tourist use is increasing; the lake offers space and room for recreational fishing and water sports, and modern harbors and jetties have been built in recent years.
The lake's protected areas are not spared: boating, fishing and disturbance of the internationally important resting and breeding places at the lake occur again and again. The lake has a very good ecological quality, but is being increasingly exploited without appropriate countermeasures being taken for more nature and species protection - this is now to change. Sustainable protection requires, among other things, a holistic concept for the care and sustainable use of habitats as well as the monitoring of compliance with nature conservation regulations. As a good basis for an active dialogue between all stakeholders at the lake, the NLSD jury has decided to nominate the Geiseltalsee as "Living Lake of the Year 2023". In order to preserve the young ecosystem and the oligotrophic quality of the lake, the efficient cooperation between the active people on site from nature conservation, fishing, boat rentals, tourism associations and the local population is necessary.
Joint efforts for the Living Lake

Many positive developments in the Geiseltal are due to the activities of NABU Regionalverband Merseburg-Querfurt e.V. "Together with our partners, we would like to implement a nature conservation project in the post-mining landscape of the Geiseltal in the coming years that promotes educational and public relations work, the undisturbed experience of nature, and species and biotope protection measures in the area," says Martin Schulze of the NABU regional association. In addition, the association is committed to the implementation of the EU Birds Directive at the lake and, together with its members, regularly maintains steep walls as breeding grounds for bee-eaters and sand martins, as well as the breeding islands in the lake.
The Geiseltal Diving Center, in cooperation with the Association of German Sports Divers and the NABU project "Diving for Nature Conservation", has already trained 25 experts in nature conservation diving who carry out annual monitoring of the aquatic plants. In this way, science can also document the further development of the lake and make well-founded recommendations for concrete protection measures: e.g. the restriction of recreational activities in the area of reed belts and other zones particularly worthy of protection, in order to preserve the habitat for birds and other animals, or the removal of bushes on steep walls with further sustainable use in the interests of nature. In this way, the lake remains experienceable for all users and beautiful in the long term.
"The Geiseltalsee is a special example of a largely successful restoration of habitats after intensive use by humans. Now the task is to ensure sustainable development for this young natural paradise. The work of initiatives, associations and communities must contribute to the further development of the lake into a lively and species-rich habitat that is equally important for humans and nature", emphasizes Dr. Thomas Schaefer, Head of Nature Conservation & Living Lakes at GNF. "With the election of the 'Living Lake of the Year' we want to contribute to raising the awareness of the importance of lakes and wetlands as habitats for numerous animal and plant species as a whole and to promote the protection of these valuable ecosystems. The title is also a reminder that we all have a responsibility to protect nature and its biodiversity."
The Global Nature Fund (GNF) and the Living Lakes Network Germany (NLSD) annually designate the "Living Lake of the Year" on UN World Water Day, March 22. The award draws attention to lakes and wetlands as valuable ecosystems and unique natural treasures and highlights achievements to protect them. Coupled with activities throughout the year, the campaign helps solve problems at lakes and in wetlands. Geiseltalsee is the first artificial lake to receive the award and a model of how successful habitat restoration can ensure the protection of nature and its biodiversity. More about Action 2023 at
Living Lakes Network Germany
The Living Lakes Network Germany was founded in 2009 by the Global Nature Fund and is linked to the worldwide Living Lakes Network, a global platform for cooperation on the permanent and sustainable development of lakes with over 130 organizations. The Living Lakes Network Germany was awarded as an official project of the UN Decade on Biological Diversity in 2016. More information at
Global Nature Fund (GNF)
Fritz-Reichle-Ring 4
78315 Radolfzell
Phone: +49 (0)7732 9995-80
Contact information of the partners
NABU Saxony-Anhalt
Gerhart-Hauptmann-Strasse 14
39108 Magdeburg
Phone: +49 (0)391 5619350
NABU Regional Association Merseburg-Querfurt e.V.
Ackerweg 28
06130 Halle (Saale)
Tel.: +49 (0)1522 4292513
Diving Center Geiseltal
beach avenue 1
06249 Mücheln OT Stöbnitz
peninsula / camping site
Saxony-Anhalt State Diving Association
Department of environment and nature conservation
NABU Federal Expert Committee Living Lakes
Fürstenberger Str. 6
16775 Stechlin




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