The freshwater programme addresses an urgent but largely unrecognised conservation crisis. As industrial water use has risen and human development pressures intensified, freshwater habitats have been pushed further and further away from the natural conditions in which species evolved. This has had dramatic implications for their survival. Since 1970 the abundance of freshwater species has declined by 81%, and 28% of critically endangered species are now found in freshwater environments.
Despite these harrowing headlines, the plight of freshwater species continues to be overlooked. Broadly speaking – public awareness is low, funding meagre, and action insufficient. The freshwater programme seeks to address this by raising support for freshwater species conservation, grassroots community efforts to conserve river systems, and connecting these struggles in priority watersheds to build a more powerful and coherent message for freshwater ecosystem protection. It is a huge task, but one which an organisation dedicated to tackling overlooked and underfunded conservation challenges cannot neglect.