Freshwater species

Freshwaters are among the most valuable ecosystems on the planet for their biodiversity and importance to livelihoods. Yet the freshwater realm is under threat, with its species declining faster than those on land and in the oceans. IUCN is working to raise the profile of freshwater biodiversity by highlighting its value, assessing the extinction risk of freshwater species and identifying sites important for their survival.

Value of freshwater biodiversity

Foundational to water and nutrient cycles, wetlands provide a vital source of water, food, medicine and income. Freshwater habitats are essential for flood control and climate change mitigation.


of all known species are supported by wetlands, which cover less than 1% of the Earth's surface.

(Strayer and Dudgeon, 2010)


- the percentage freshwater vertebrate populations have declined since 1970.

(WWF, 2018)

IUCN's work on freshwater biodiversity

IUCN is leading the assessment of freshwater species (including crabs, crayfishes and shrimps, fishes, molluscs, dragonflies and damselflies, and plants) for The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and helping identify Key Biodiversity Areas that are important for the survival of these species. This knowledge is used to advise governments, NGOs, the private sector and other stakeholders for informing effective conservation measures.

Freshwater for the Future

Freshwater resources and the life and diversity they sustain are under mounting pressure from mass alteration of the river, estuarine, peatland, wetland and watershed ecosystems worldwide, made…