Scientists produce emergency plan to halt decline in freshwater species and habitats

A global team of scientists has developed the first Emergency Recovery Plan to reverse the rapid decline in the world’s freshwater species and habitats.

The six-point plan is outlined in a scientific paper, published today in BioScience, calling for urgent steps to tackle threats to biodiversity in rivers, lakes and wetlands.

A team of scientists from Cardiff University, WWF, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Conservation International devised the plan to restore freshwater habitats, which account for 1% of the Earth’s surface and are home to 10% of all species.

Cardiff University Professor of Ecology Steve Ormerod, a lifelong freshwater researcher who contributed to the report, said: “The world’s streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and wetlands are among the world’s more important for their species richness, but also the most heavily used and degraded by people; think of pollution, water supply, physical alteration and the impacts of climate change on water flow and temperature.

“As a result, often hidden beneath the water surface, freshwater ecosystems are haemorrhaging biodiversity faster than any other type of ecosystem. This is not just an intrinsic tragedy; it threatens our own life support because of the fundamental importance of all that water means to human life.”

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