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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Geographical Areas

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Doirani Lake
Geography, Biology
Lake Doirani is situated on the north part of Greece, 80 km from Thessaloniki. Nowadays it occupies 40 km2, the remains of the much larger Lake Paionia. It forms a natural border between Greece and Skopje. Both countries cherish the area on the whole, as 1/3 of it belongs to Greece and the rest 2/3 belong to Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia.
Easy to reach by car, visitors can drive along the Old National Road of Thessaloniki- Kilkis and turn left at Mouries village.
Doirani wetland hosts a rich ecosystem. It has been included to the program Natura 2000 (GR1230003). There are 87 species of birds which prefer Doirani for nesting, resting during migration, wintering and seeking food. It is also proclaimed as a Special Protected Area due to the about 36 species of birds that are designated as rare and threatened with extinction on a European level. Doirani provides shelter to species threatened with extinction on a global level as well, such as Pygmy cormorant and Dalmatian pelican.
Other species of birds found in the area are wanding birds such as heron, glossy ibex, gallinago and avocet. Wigeons, gadwalls, ducks, pintails, gaganeys, pochards and grebes are also met, as well as birds of prey such as the marsh harrier, the goshawk, the sparrow hawk, the hobby and common buzzard.
The ecosystem of Doirani includes fish, although there is a significant reduce of fish stocks and species found there in the recent years. The depth of the lake is rather shallow- 4m- compared to the depth it used to have a few decades ago and it reached 10m. The most important species were the carp, catfish, roaches and perche.
The lake is home to aquatic insects such as the common dragon fly which is part of the food chain. Ten species of Amphibia live at the lake with most important the frog Rona Balcanica, 23 species of reptiles with most important the green and Balkan lizard and 53 species of mammals with most important the European ground squirrel.
Vegetation is fundamental for the wildlife and the lake. It provides home shelter and food to all species that visit or permanently inhabit the area.
The nearby forest if Mouries consists of oak, alder and ancient plane trees. The roots of the trees help to retain and stabilize the soil. All types of plants contribute to the balanced survival of a complex and invaluable ecosystem. The forest has been declared a protected Natural Monument and is widely known as “Thousand Trees”.
On the lake itself, there are many plants that have adapted to conditions of permanent immersion in water such as Myriophyllum spicatum and Potamogeton perfoliatusta. There are also white willows, white poplars and clusters of rushes that love the light and the moist soil of the area.
The mismanagement of the lake has led to a project of proposed restoration measures for the Lake Doirani. It consists of environmental friendly agricultural practices, wastewater treatment facilities, monitoring the water quality and quantity, and studying the fish fauna.


Dunes… the plants of stability In some spots around the lake dunes are created. The sand dunes’ vegetation grows in areas with specific loose substrate, incapable to hold moisture, such as sandy areas on the sea coast and sandy islets in the lagoons, lakes, estuary and river deltas.
Aquatic plants Inside the lake it grows plants that called aquatic and can make special adaptations to survive in areas flooded periodically or permanently with water. They developing an extensive root system to be mounted on the ground, have aerial roots and trapping air in their tissues to float. The floating leaves of some aquatic species have mouths in the upper surface to be in contact with air, unlike the leaves of the land plants carrying the air holes in the bottom surface to be protected from the sun. Aquatic plants help reduce the rippling water and in soil stabilization. The aquatic vegetation is divided into three major categories: the underwater vegetation, the hydrophilous vegetation and wet meadows.
Wetland forests Near the banks of lakes and rivers, where the soil is moist, light and low in nutrients, it grows \"riparian\" or \"wetland\" forests. Their trees are divided into \"softwoods\" and \"hardwoods\". The \"softwoods\" swampy forests make up trees with soft wood, such as white and fragile willow, the white poplar, black poplar and black alder. Very often these kind of forest looks like tropical, as a big number of creepers in their efforts to reach the sun light are spreading from tree to tree, creating tunnels.
Mammals Wetlands are the most important refuges for mammals, beside the forests. In many wetlands in northern Greece has winter wolves, and in some of them are living some very rare species, like the jackal. In the forest of Mouries are sheltered foxes, badgers, martens, weasels and hares. In the wider area of lake Doirani has recorded more than 35 species. The mammals living exclusively in wetlands and have developed some specific adaptations (webbed fingers, suitable body shape, etc.) to swim or stay for some time in the water. In aquatic mammals belong species such as the otter, the black beaver, the swampshrew the watershrew and the waterrat.
Fish In the water of Doirani lake lived in the past years many fish species. Between them were: carp, the sheatfish, the platitsa and perch, together with the roach, tench and circo, which were abundant in the lake and was for sale. Other species were eel, the butterfly, the gypsy fish, sardine, and plentiful were the mussels, the crayfish, and the crabs. Fish of Doirani considered the tastiest and clean, with great commercial value. Therefore, according to local fishermen, was happened because the morphology of the lake’s bottom that’s sandy and not swampy, and the relatively high content of water in iodine. The lake in the past it was so clear that you could see the bottom even at great depth, while residents using water even to cook. Today the few fishermen left in the area are fishing for carp, perch, sheatfish, butterflies, while in their nets caught roach and circo but they are not commercially exploited.
The lake museum The Municipality of Kilkis in cooperation with Goulandri Museum Natural History Museum constructed the Lake Museum of Doirani, housed in a modern building next to the lake. The purpose of the museum is to promote the flora and fauna of the lake but also the human coexistence with the lake from antiquity until today.


Birds To take advantage of the opportunities the environment offers, the wetland birds have made some special adaptations. The short, curved beak is used for feeding in the shallow waters while food seeking in deep waters requires more hydrodynamic shapes. Feet with films like oars, ensures comfortable swimming and the other ones, like flippers, are made for long dives. Birds of wetlands depending on where they live and what they eat are divided into waders, waterfowl and raptors. In Doirani lake recorded a total of 87 species.