The large lakes of Sweden (Vänern, Vättern, Mälaren and Hjälmaren) were formed during the last glacial period when the ice retreated from central Sweden 10,000 years ago. These lakes constitute about 24% of the total lake area of Sweden and are extremely important as a water resource and are used for fishing, trade and recreational activities (Willén, 1984). At 5600 km2, Vänern is the largest lake within the European Union. Its location and size give the lake a maritime character with unique fauna and flora, which are recognised in several NATURA 2000 areas. Approximately 300,000 inhabitants live around the lake and depend on it as a source of freshwater. The lake is the largest water power regulation dam in Sweden, with a volume of 153 km3, and is commercially used both for transport and for fishing. It is also important for recreation for tourists and...

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