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Global Lakes and Wetlands Database

Drawing upon a variety of existing maps, data and information, WWF and the Center for Environmental Systems Research, University of Kassel, Germany created the Global Lakes and Wetlands Database (GLWD). The combination of best available sources for lakes and wetlands on a global scale (1:1 to 1:3 million resolution), and the application of GIS functionality enabled the generation of a database which focuses in three coordinated levels on (1) large lakes and reservoirs, (2) smaller water bodies, and (3) wetlands.

Level 1 (GLWD-1) comprises the 3067 largest lakes (area ≥ 50 km2) and 654 largest reservoirs (storage capacity ≥ 0.5 km3) worldwide, and includes extensive attribute data. Access Level 1 data

Level 2 (GLWD-2) comprises permanent open water bodies with a surface area ≥ 0.1 km2 excluding the water bodies contained in GLWD-1. Access Level 2 data

The approximately 250,000 polygons of GLWD-2 are attributed as lakes, reservoirs and rivers. Level 3 (GLWD-3) comprises lakes, reservoirs, rivers and different wetland types in the form of a global raster map at 30-second resolution. Access Level 3 data

For GLWD-3, the polygons of GLWD-1 and GLWD-2 were combined with additional information on the maximum extents and types of wetlands. Class ‘lake’ in both GLWD-2 and GLWD-3 also includes man-made reservoirs, as only the largest reservoirs have been distinguished from natural lakes.

The data is available for free download (for non-commercial scientific, conservation and educational purposes).