Lago Braies - Italy
The site Lake of Braies lies in the Eastern Alps at 1489 m a.s.l. and is the fourth largest natural lake of the province of Bolzano. The lake attracts many visitors during summer because of its scenic charm. The lake is oligotrophic and was formed by damming. The watershed is almost entirely composed of limestone and its soil is covered by rocks (32%), pasture (25%), forest (16%), shrubs (14%) and pioneer vegetation (12%). The lake is fed primarily by snowmelt water that reaches the lake mainly through underground springs. The outlet is also mostly underground. The annual level fluctuations are of 3- 4 m. The first studies date back to the end of the 19th century when Damian published a paper including a bathymetric map and notes on geology and hydrography. During the first half of the 20th century various authors have conducted studies on the plankton. In 1967 a study was conducted by Engelen on the limnological characteristics of the lake including the physical-chemical properties of water and sediment. Since 1979, the lake is being limnologically surveyed, at non-regular intervals throughout the year, by the Environmental Agency of the province of Bolzano in order to monitor its conditions and its development over time. This programme comprises basic limnology including physical and chemical profiles and qualitative and quantitative phyto- and zooplankton analyses. Because of its high naturalistic value, the lake is part of the European network monitoring programme since 2008 and is subjected to the survey of its various biological elements according to the European WFD directive: in addition to phytoplankton, macrophytes, benthic fauna and fish are as well analyzed and evaluated at predetermined minimum intervals. The Biological Laboratory, in charge of surveying the lake, is equipped with the necessary instruments and is located at a distance of 108 km from the lake.
General Characteristics and Status