Over 140,000 described species – including 55% of all fishes – rely on freshwater habitats for their survival. Freshwater species are important to local ecosystems, provide sources of food and income to humans and are key to flood and erosion control.
However, freshwater species are going extinct more rapidly than terrestrial or marine species. Almost one-third of freshwater biodiversity face extinction, largely due to habitat loss, introduction of alien species, pollution, and over-harvesting. This problem is expected to worsen as the human population grows.
IUCN assesses key groups of freshwater species to determine the threats they face. Sites of importance for the survival of these species, Key Biodiversity Areas, are also identified. This knowledge is used to advise governments, NGOs and other stakeholders when planning effective conservation measures.
Freshwater publications for assessments of species and sites are available online.
For more information contact William Darwall - Head IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit