Land

Lake water quality can often be described as a function of land use in the catchment area, expressed as the percentage of, e.g., agriculture, forest, mire, buildings, and water. Before the development of agriculture, 80-90% of Europe was covered by forest. Through the centuries of deforestation over half of Europe's original forest cover has disappeared. Nevertheless, Europe still has over one-quarter of its land area as forest, including the taiga of Scandinavia and Russia, mixed rainforests of the Caucasus, and the cork oak forests in the western Mediterranean. During recent times, deforestation has been diminished and forests have been reestablished. In many cases monoculture, plantations of conifers have replaced the original mixed natural forest. Relatively unaffected by human activities are only the forests in the most northerly mountains and in parts of north central European Russia.

The present use of land by humans varies from region to region (Figure 3), depending on economics, politics, traditions, and other human factors. The intensive human activities result in a clear north-south gradient in the land use of Europe. In Northern Europe in the Arctic coastal region and above the tree-line, the land cover is characterized by a tundra vegetation, which consists mostly of lichens, mosses, shrubs, and herbs. In the inland of Northern Europe, especially spruce and pine trees occur. Here forestry is frequently intensive in the catchment areas of the lakes. Further south agricultural activities become dominant and much of the Great European Plain is covered by agricultural land and grassland. First, in the countries bordering the Mediterranean fruit plantings, especially olives, citrus fruit, figs, apricots, and grapes, become dominant.

Land cover itself strongly influences the quality of lake waters but activities connected to the land cover,

^y Country Boundaries Land Use Lakes

Plains - Arable Lands Plains - Permanent Crops Plains - Grazing Land Plains - Pasture Land (continued)

Plains - Forest and Woods

Mountains - Arable Lands

^y Country Boundaries Land Use Lakes

Plains - Arable Lands Plains - Permanent Crops Plains - Grazing Land Plains - Pasture Land (continued)

Plains - Forest and Woods

Mountains - Arable Lands

Mountains - Permanent Crops

Mountains - Grazing Land

Mountains - Forest and Woods Other Lands

Figure 3 Present land use in Europe. The map has been created using the European Geo-Portal at http://eu-geoportal.jrc.it/.

such as the distribution of fertilizers and pesticides, are sometimes even more important. The choice of the amount and type of fertilizers and pesticides used to be country specific, but new legislation within the European Union, such as the European Water Framework Directive, decreases the variability among countries. In general, land use practices within the European Union tend to become more homogenous with new legislations, and are influenced by the EU-wide aim to get waters of good ecological status. Many European lakes are still very nutrient-rich because of intensive agricultural activities, giving raise to harmful algal blooms.

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