Freshwater biodiversity is in a state of crisis due to large dams, water diversions and pollution.

In the last forty years, freshwater species have lost, on average, over 80% of their populations; they’re declining twice as fast as land and marine species. 

Hypoxeia and Kalagala Falls on the Nile River | Photo by International Rivers

Large dams fragment rivers and habitats, isolating species, interrupting the exchange of nutrients between ecosystems, and cutting off migration routes. They reduce water and sediment flows to downstream habitat, and can decimate a river’s estuary, where many of the world’s fish species spawn. Dams also increase ecosystems’ vulnerability to threats like climate change.

What We Can Do to Protect Freshwater

Free-flowing rivers are the safety net that supports our existence. To reverse the biodiversity crisis, we must stop dam-building and destructive development in biodiversity hotspots, legally protect the most biodiverse rivers from development, and decommission the planet’s most lethal dams.

Related Resources

Since 1970, the global populations of freshwater species have declined by more than 80%. Without immediate action to protect rivers, we’ll lose an immense amount of freshwater biodiversity.

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