As freshwater carves its way towards the ocean and collects in natural basins it creates some of the most diverse habitats on the planet. Rivers, lakes and wetlands cover less than 1% of Earth’s surface yet are home to 12% of all known species.
This wealth of life is at risk of being lost. Compounding threats such as pollution, overexploitation, habitat loss and invasive species introductions are, in decades, rapidly altering the conditions to which freshwater species have adapted over many millennia.
Rivers, lakes and wetlands are already considered to have an extinction rate four to six times higher than marine or terrestrial environments. Amongst the most threatened groups of freshwater species are fish. Of some 15,000 species of freshwater fish approximately one in three are threatened with extinction. Without conservation action it is clear that many of these species will be lost from our planet forever.