GNF - Võrtsjärv Lake

Lake Võrtsjärv – Estonia


Background Lake Võrtsjärv

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 with a surface area of 270 square kilometres. Despite its great surface area, Lake Võrtsjärv is a shallow lake having an average depth of 2.8 m. On average, the lake is covered with ice 130 days a year (from December until April). The Suur Emajõgi River is the only outlet.


The lake is Natura 2000 site and is important habitat for nesting and migratory bird species. There are 35 different fish species, including fish having commercial value.

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

Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100


Problems Lake Võrtsjärv

Lake Võrtsjärv is threatened by eutrophication. The main causes for eutrophication come from agricultural activities within the lake basin boundaries. 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.


The Living Lakes Partner Organisations is Lake Võrtsjärv Fisheries Development Agency in cooperation with the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Limnology. An additional Living Lakes Partner organisations is ELF, the Estonian Fund for Nature (NGO Partner at Lake Vörtsjärv).

More information about Lake Võrtsjärv

Detailed Data

 Sailing boat on Lake Võrtsjärv


Partner Organisations Lake Võrtsjärv


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 4545 46

Fax: +372 7 4545 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