GNF - Võrtsjärv Lake

Lake Võrtsjärv – Estonia


Lake Peipsi and Lake Võrtsjärv are large shallow lakes which are situated in Northern Europe and are part of the Baltic Sea basin. The two lakes are connected by the Emajögi river which drains from Lake Võrtsjärv to Lake Peipsi.

Lake Võrtsjarv is the largest lake within the boundaries of Estonia (270 sq. km [km²]). Despite its large surface area, the lake is shallow. 35 fish species occur in Lake Võrtsjärv. Pike-perch, eel, bream, and pike are the most important commercial fish while perch and roach are also abundant. The lake is an important habitat for nesting birds like the Black Tern and migratory bird species like the Whooper Swan, Crane, Wigeon, Scaup and the Wood Sandpiper.

Lake Võrtsjärv is mainly used for industrial fishery, recreation, and tourism.


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. Low water level reinforces the rise in trophic level. In future even higher phosphorus and nitrate loads from the agriculture are expected. Non-purified or only unsatisfactory treated wastewater runs into the lake.

The Living Lakes Partner organisations are on the one hand ELF, the Estonian Fund for Nature (NGO Partner at Lake Vörtsjärv) in cooperation with the Lake Võrtsjärv Agency and the Võrtsjärv Limnological Station of the Estonian Agricultural University.

Estonian Handicraft Online Shop

Lake Võrtsjärv Foundation, whose main goal is regional development around the Lake Võrtsjärv rural areas, is the main initiator to support local traditions and the creation of entrepreneurial networks in the region. One of the tasks of the foundation is to encourage local people for nature-friendly economic activities which would support the growth of eco-tourism and the development of traditional branch of production in the region.


From this initiative and support from EU Leader Programme, the online shop was founded by A.N.K.Grupp Ltd.. Local craftsmen are expected to offer their quality products which are based on local materials and traditional handicraft skills. Estcraft environment supports craftsmen with the means of IT-knowledge, marketing and shipping.

More information about Lake Võrtsjärv

Detailed Data

Lake Võrtsjärv is one of the 100 Greenest Holiday Destinations world-wide

Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100

 Sailing boat on Lake Võrtsjärv

Partner Organisations

Estonian Fund for Nature (ELF)

Silvia Lotman, CEO

P.O. Box: 245, Tartu 50002, Estonia

Phone: + 372 - 7 - 428 443

Fax: + 372 - 7 - 428 166



 Logo Estonian Fund for Nature (ELF)

Estonian University of Life Sciences

Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Centre for Limnology

61101 Rannu vald, Tartumaa, Estonia

Phone: + 372 - 7 - 45 45 46

Fax: + 372 - 7 - 45 45 46


 Logo Estonian University of Life Sciences

Lake Võrtsjärv Fisheries Development Agency (LVFDA)

(MTÜ Võrtsjärve Kalanduspiirkond)

Jaanika Kaljuvee

Vaibla village


Kolga-Jaani municipality

70314 Viljandi County, Estonia

Phone: +372 52 98 561



 Lake Võrtsjärv Fisheries Development Agency

Documents in English

Peeter N˜oges and Tiina N˜oges (2011)

Indicators and criteria to assess ecological status of the large shallow temperate polymictic lakes Peipsi (Estonia/Russia) and Vörtsjärv (Estonia)


Tiina N˜oges, Lea Tuvikene, and Peeter N˜oges (2010)

Contemporary trends of temperature, nutrient loading, and water quality in large Lakes Peipsi and Võrtsjärv, Estonia


Lea Tuvikene, Tiina No˜ges, Peeter No˜ges (2010)

Hydrobiologia - The International Journal of Aquatic Sciences, Volume 660, Number 1

Why do phytoplankton species composition and “traditional” water quality parameters indicate different ecological status of a large shallow lake