Although they cover less than one per cent of the world’s surface, freshwater ecosystems are proportionately richer in biodiversity and more threatened than either terrestrial or marine habitats, harbouring approximately 40% of all fish species. Despite this, freshwater biodiversity receives significantly less conservation attention than most other ecosystems.
In addition to the 126,000 identified species that directly depend on freshwater, all life requires the services it provides. The health of freshwater ecosystems affects all living things, for example, they influence levels of carbon, salinity, sediment and temperatures of coastal and marine environments and help to regulate climate and provide the water and fertile soils upon which all life thrives.
Overfishing, the introduction of invasive species, pollution, siltation, sedimentation and the overexploitation of water resources all threaten freshwater ecosystems, altering and reducing viable freshwater habitats. Many of these threats are caused by human induced behaviours on terrestrial ecosystems, such as agricultural and industrial practices and related land clearance. A growing and increasingly pervasive threat comes from the development of large-scale dams for hydropower and irrigation. Whilst offering ‘greener’ forms of energy (in the sense of carbon emissions), large dams are often associated with widespread damage to rivers and their tributaries with adverse effects on wildlife, human livelihoods and subsistence uses.
With the rapid expansion of human populations and global socio-economic growth, the already significant pressures on freshwater resources are multiplying, compounding existing problems such as water scarcity and speeding up the rate of species loss. Already approximately one fifth of the world’s population lives in physically water scarce environments and a further 500 million people are fast-approaching the same fate. Climate change is predicted to act as a multiplier on the problems already being experienced.
Synchronicity Earth aims to raise the profile of freshwater conservation and broaden the knowledge base of freshwater ecosystems and species, which are currently inadequately protected and funded.
Our immediate focus is on supporting organisations whose aim is to reduce and mitigate damaging impacts of large-scale dams and understanding viable solutions for those in need of better irrigation and more electricity generation. Our target regions are Southeast Asia where the rate of dam building has exploded in recent years and Sub-Saharan Africa where large-scale hydropower is an emerging and growing issue.
We also seek to support those who are protecting freshwater resources from water grabs in Sub-Saharan Africa: these are occurring largely as a result of unchecked foreign investment, leading to the exploitation and over abstraction of water sources and reduced access for local people and wildlife.
See the links to the right to read about our partners who are carrying out some of this work.