Bending the Curve of Global Freshwater Biodiversity Loss: An Emergency Recovery Plan

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A new study published in BioScience outlines a global framework for safeguarding global freshwater biodiversity. This first-of-its-kind framework was developed by a global team of scientists from various scientific and environmental organizations and academic institutions. Abby Lynch, a research fish biologist for the National CASC, is a co-author on this study.

Read the original paper published by BioScience, along with associated press releases from Conservation International and WWF.

Covering approximately 1% of the Earth’s surface, rivers, lakes and freshwater wetlands are home to 10% of all species and more described fish species than in all the world’s oceans. Since 1970, 83% of freshwater species and 30% of freshwater ecosystems have been lost. This poses a threat to the billions of people around the world who rely on rivers, lakes, and tributaries for food, water, and economic well-being.

In a new paper, researchers pose six strategies to preserve freshwater biodiversity, which the authors call an “Emergency Recovery Plan”. This plan prioritizes solutions that are backed by science and have already proven successful in certain locations. Solutions include letting rivers flow more naturally, reducing pollution, protecting critical wetland habitats, ending overfishing and unsustainable sand mining in rivers and lakes, controlling invasive species, and safeguarding and restoring river connectivity through better planning of dams and other infrastructure. James Dalton, Director of IUCN’s Global Water Programme says, “all the solutions in the Emergency Recovery Plan have been tried and tested somewhere in the world: they are realistic, pragmatic and they work. We are calling on governments, investors, companies and communities to prioritize freshwater biodiversity – often neglected by the conservation and water management worlds. Now is the time to implement these solutions, before it is too late.”

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Manistee River

Manistee River in Michigan (Abby Lynch, USGS)