Freshwater ecosystems contain important biodiversity and provide the water essential to people’s social and economic well-being. Unfortunately, poor management practices, coupled with growing water demands, have made freshwater species the most threatened on Earth, with extinction rates 4-6 times higher than their counterparts.
Pressure on freshwater systems comes from removing too much water to grow crops; contamination from economic activities (e.g., discharges from industry), land use practices (e.g., increased sediment in streams due to clearing, etc.), human waste (e.g., inadequate wastewater treatment); and new infrastructure (dams, diversions and levees). Fortunately, a number of opportunities exist to turn this crisis around.
The Nature Conservancy’s mission requires that we understand this context and help move toward a more hopeful future. To do so, we partner with people around the world, using science to equip leaders to make smart choices about how we use rivers and lakes.