GNF - Lake Balaton

Lake Balaton – Hungary


Background Lake Balaton

With a surface area of 594 sq. km, Lake Balaton is the largest freshwater body in Central Europe. It is one of the most significant natural treasures of Hungary and a unique ecological asset of the Central European region. For its large surface area, Lake Balaton is an extremely shallow lake - its average depth is a mere 3.2 m. Its main tributary, Zala River drains the western half of the watershed of 5,770 sq. km and discharges into the lake from the south-west. The excess water is discharged through the sluice in Siófok in a controlled manner to the Sió River, a canalized waterway connecting the Danube.
The lake and its environment accommodate a rich and diverse flora and fauna. As a result of continued efforts in environmental protection and nature conservation a fairly rich diversity of species has been preserved. A large number of rare and protected plant species can be found in the area, as well as strictly protected and rare animal species such as Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) and Otter (Lutra lutra). There are 41 indigenous species of fish living in Lake Balaton and its tributaries.
An increasing recognition of the importance of nature protection and preservation of biodiversity led the government to the formation of the Balaton-felvidéki National Park in 1997. With an area of more than 616 sq. km, the National Park spreads through most of the northern watershed and includes the Kis-Balaton reconstructed wetland area, part of which (some 13 sq. km) is a permanent Ramsar site. Seasonally, the whole lake area is under the protection of the Ramsar Convention. Some 250 bird species can be found there, of which 27, such as Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) or Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) are strictly protected.
Walk paths, educational trails and environmental show places introduce the rich nature of the area to visitors from all over the world. Lake Balaton is a highly frequented international tourist destination with some 290 thousand commercial accommodations and 8 to 10 million registered guest nights (estimated value 55 million) annually. Tourism and the related services exert considerable stress on the rather sensitive ecosystem and the infrastructure as well.
Problems of anthropogenic origin include eutrophication and other water quality issues, introduction of foreign, potentially invasive species, loss of natural habitat in the littoral zone due to concrete shore protection, erosion and soil contamination in the watershed etc. 
 Shore line of Lake Balaton
 Shore line of Lake Balaton with reeds
 Water lilies
 Lake Balaton Sunset

Project Goals Lake Balaton – Hungary

The Living Lakes partner organisations are the Association of Civil Organisations of Lake Balaton and the Lake Balaton Development Coordination Agency. The association represents the interests of the civil groups (NGOs) operating in the Lake Balaton region. More than 10,000 volunteers are active in 33 civil groups. Their goal is to stop and reverse the deterioration of the Lake Balaton environment, to protect the remaining natural shores and preserve the natural flora and fauna of the lake and its vicinity.

The summary of the “Lake Balaton Integrated Vulnerability Assessment, Early Warning and Adaptation Strategies” project is avaiable under the separate page Balaton Adaption Project.



Partner Organisations Lake Balaton – Hungary


Association of Civil Organisations of Lake Balaton

Contact person: Ms. Erzsébet Sitku

Harmatos utca 20

8640 Fonyód, Hungary

Mobile Phone: +36 30 600 79 35



 Logo Association of Civil Organisations of Lake Balaton

Lake Balaton Development Coordination Agency

(consulting role)

Contact person: Mr. Dr. Gábor Molnár

Siófok Batthyány u. 1, Hungary - 8600

Phone: + 36 84 317 002

Fax: + 36 84 317 002



 Logo Lake Balaton Development Coordination Agency


More information about Lake Balaton – Hungary

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