Foreword to the WLDBook

This is the fifth and final report from the project, "Survey of the State of World Lakes", jointly carried out by the International Lake Environment Committee Foundation (ILEC) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The project was launched by the two organizations in 1987 to provide basic information for the environmentally sound management and sustainable development of lakes and reservoirs and their resources. The centre for International Projects (CIP) of the former USSR join the project in 1990.

Since the publication of the first report in 1988, both scientific and socio-economic data on the environment of 217 lakes and reservoirs in 73 countries have been compiled into five volumes. Of these, 64 are from Asia (ASI), 4 from Oceania (OCE), 56 from Europe (EUR), 20 from Africa (AFR), 61 are from North America (NAM), and 12 from South America (SAM). Natural freshwater lakes accounts for 73%, natural salt or brackish laks for 8%, and reservoirs for the remaining 19%. The volumes include approximately 20% of the so-called "large lakes" of the world larger than 500km2 in surface area, and 13 of the 14 largest (1,000 km2 or bigger) freshwater lakes in the world.

This project was probably the first attempt to compile standardized information from worldwide lakes with extremely diverse environments and inevitably needed extensive international cooperation. The editorial committee would like to express their sincerest thanks to a great number of researchers and institues for their valuable contribution to these volumes, including the National Water Research Institute of Canada that undertook to compile Canadian lakes data in 1989-1990; Thanks are also extended to the authors of scientific papers and books, from which partial citation or reproduction was made with their permission.

Finally, on behalf of ILEC and the editorial committee, we express our heartfelt appriciation for the financial support provided by the UNEP, Shiga Prefectural Government and the Japana Shipping Industry Foundation during the course of the project.

March 1994
Tatuo KIRA, chief editor
Chairperson, Scientific Committee of ILEC and Director, Lake Biwa Research Institute
Akira KURATA, managing editor
Head Researcher, ILEC and Ex-Head of Research Section, Lake Biwa Research Institute