Freshwater ecosystems provide water for food and energy production, they purify drinking water, provide medicines, and play an important role in flood and erosion control. The species making up these ecosystems are largely unseen yet represent some of the most diverse and interesting plants and animals on Earth.

Over the last 10 years, experts in the IUCN Species Survival Commission have mapped and assessed the threats for more than 25,000 freshwater species. Based on the categories and criteria of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ almost a third of these are threatened with extinction and over 200 are already Extinct. We are losing freshwater species more rapidly than either marine or terrestrial species, but they are disappearing largely unnoticed. Priority areas for the ongoing assessment are illustrated in the map below in red.