Freshwater is part of the Earth’s water cycle and is found in the air as water vapour, in the Arctic as ice and in the ground, and in liquid form in streams and lakes. Freshwater constitutes only a minute part of the globe’s total water volume, but nevertheless sustains all life on land. Lakes are of significant aesthetic and natural value as they form habitats for many different species of fauna and flora. Moreover, they are important for the retention (sink) and release (source) of nutrients and, with this, of decisive significance for the nutrient loading of the marine environment. Whether they serve as one or the other depends on sediment conditions, chemical conditions and biological structure. In many places around the world lakes are an essential drinking water resource and sustain vital food production for millions of people.
Focus areas at present are: