Lake Pape

Total area: 3728 ha

Mirror area: 1205 ha

Length of the lake: 8,3 km

Average depth: 0,5 m

Parameter: 40,4 km

Lake Pape is a wetland of international importance. The lake is located in the nature reserve “Nature park Pape“.

Lake Pape is a shallow, lagoon-type lake with saltwater vegetation, an important habitat of the EU Habitats directive – “Hard oligo-mesotrophic waters with benthic vegetation of Chara spp” – a unique and important nature protection site in Latvia. In the territory of lake Pape, there is also one of the largest deposits of the swamp sawgrass Cladium mariscus in Latvia, which at the same time makes it also a rare, and protected habitat “Alkaline fens with swamp sawgrass”.

In the southwestern part of the lake there is a channel that connects the lake directly with the Baltic Sea. After a longer period of westerly winds, the sea’s saline waters flow into the lake and form a regular water exchange between the sea and the lake. It is this water exchange that has created and ensured such biodiversity, unique only to lagoon-type lakes.

Lake Pape is included in the list of the most important places for birds in Europe, and is a gathering place on the White Sea – Baltic Sea migration route. It is used as a rest place and feeding complex during the autumn migration period. This is also one of the most important nesting sites for protected bird species in Latvia – the Eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris), the Western marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus), the Little crake (Porzana parva), and others.

In order to protect the surrounding agricultural land from flooding, the water level of lake Pape has been subject to human influence and has been regulated for almost 200 years.

In 1969, the Pape polder and pumping station were built in the northern part of lake Pape, with the aim of draining the lake’s floodplain meadows, to make them more suitable for agriculture. The tributaries of the lake from the Nida bog were introduced into the bypass, Līgupe and Paurupe were dredged, but the coastal meadows were subject to partial drainage.

All these activities have negatively affected the natural hydrology of lake Pape and contributed to the rapid overgrowth of the lake. As the drainage water enters the lake, substances that are not needed for the lake from the immediate vicinity also flow into it.

The impact of long-term economic activity has contributed to the accumulation of sludge and the homogeneous overgrowth of the lake with reeds. Currently, almost 90% of the total area of the lake is occupied by reeds. Increased overgrowth significantly reduces the lake’s biodiversity, leading to the disappearance of floodplain meadows, overgrown lake bays and shallow water areas that used to be home to many different species.

The LIFE GOODWATER IP project aims to evaluate the implementation of various national and EU legislations related to water quality and ecological status of lake Pape and will provide an opportunity to seek solutions to improve the water quality and ecological status of the lake.