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.
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.
Permanent River Protection
Current legal protections for rivers are often unclear, weak, or insufficient, leaving rivers and communities vulnerable. Permanent legal protections for rivers can slow and reverse this trend. We are working with local communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to prioritize key rivers, evaluate the feasibility of legal protections. Learn more about our work to ensure legal protections for rivers.
Protecting World Heritage
Rivers have created some of the world’s most treasured and spectacular landscapes. Think of Brazil’s Pantanal, Botswana’s Okavango Delta and the Grand Canyon in the U.S. – three of more than 30 riverscapes designated as World Heritage sites. Learn more about our work to protect World Heritage sites.
Ensuring River Basin Connectivity
Connectivity enables the flood-recession agriculture and long-distance fish migrations which nourish billions of people across the globe. It also sustains the livelihoods of millions of rural and fisher people in the Mekong, Salween and Ganges-Meghna-Brahmaputra river basins, among many others. Learn more about our work to preserve connectivity wherever possible.
Sign the Petition:
Protect critical rivers now!
The earth’s water cycle is under attack, led by corporations that are damming and polluting rivers. Sign the global call to permanently protect Patagonian rivers that help us fight climate change.
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.
- Migratory river fish populations plunge 76% in past 50 years (The Guardian, 2020)
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