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Lakes as a new biotope

The most visible consequences of coal-mining in the Šaleška dolina Valley are the submergence of the ground and formation of submerged lakes. The Velenje, Družmir and Škale lakes together extend over more than 2 km2 and comprise a volume of 50 million m3. Lake Družmir is over 85 m deep and thus the deepest lake in Slovenia. The Šoštanj Thermal Power Plant has been supporting research connected with the quality of water in lakes and in the Paka River as well as various studies dealing with flora and fauna of lakes, flowing waters and lakeside areas. A great deal of research in the field of environment was carried out  by the researchers from the Institute for Ecological Research ERICo Velenje for TEŠ.

A secondary living environment – biotope, which contributed to a larger diversity of plant and animal species, has been formed by the lakes.  Supplement habitats providing extremely variegated and diverse life conditions have been formed in a relatively small area: from extremely dry ruderal living environments, meadows and forest edge to water environments - marshy lands, streams, small lakes and pools. Thus over 220 species of birds, among them also representatives of less common and even rare species, have been sited in this area: the Red Knot, Little Egret and the Black Stork. Twenty-seven different species of dragonflies, around 40 % of all living species in Slovenia, were recorded in the surroundings of water bodies. These included the Red-veined Darter Dragonfly (Sympetrum fonscolombei), which is classified as a vulnerable species and the Spotted Darter (Sympetrum depressiusculum), which is a critically endangered species in Slovenia. The water environment and lush flora create a suitable living environment for amphibians. Four species of frogs were spotted in this area in 2002: the European Tree Frog (Hyla arborea), the Edible Frog (Rana esculenta), the Marsh Frog (Rana ridibunda), the Common Toad (Bufo bufo) and the Alpine Triton (Tritus alpestris). All species of amphibians except for the Fire Salamander are listed in the Red List of Endangered Amphibians in Slovenia.