Why are freshwater habitats important?
Not only do freshwater habitats support the survival of myriad plant and animal species, but approximately two billion people worldwide depend on freshwater biodiversity for food and livelihoods. We use freshwater for everything from drinking, cooking, fishing and crop irrigation to transportation, energy production and waste disposal.
Are freshwater habitats disappearing?
Due to our heavy reliance on freshwater ecosystems, over time humans have had a severe impact on their health. Many habitats have been severely degraded and even destroyed.
Drained wetlands; dammed rivers that impede migratory species and disrupt natural river flow; and flood prevention measures that degrade wetland habitats and silt up riverbeds and coastal habitats are just a handful of the ways in which humans have degraded freshwater habitats.
Activities on land also have an impact: deforestation of upstream watersheds can cause severe flooding downstream, as well as sedimentation that can choke aquatic and coastal habitats. Industrial pollution can poison freshwater wildlife, while agricultural run-off and sewage can upset the nutrient balance of the water.