Effective conservation action begins with a strong understanding of species’ populations, ecologies, the threats they face, and what sort of interventions are likely to be effective in conserving them. This involves using data and information from the local to the global level.
We have identified where support can contribute to key initiatives or coordinate and enable larger-scale information programmes which have the potential for broad benefits for freshwater species conservation.
Synchronicity Earth is helping to advance knowledge of freshwater species and ecosystems by:
Identifying the most important sites for freshwater species conservation.
Key Biodiversity Areas are becoming the most coherent and widely accepted mechanism for recognising key sites of significance for biodiversity. Freshwater KBAs could help protect vital habitats degradation and promote the creation of more freshwater protected areas.
Understanding and assessing the conservation status of freshwater species.
Understanding the conservation status of species is critical to prioritising conservation action and communicating with other stakeholders. The IUCN Red List also provides rich information on the exact pressures a species is under and offers information about how it can be protected.
Helping to develop data-driven conservation action plans for freshwater species and habitats.
Forming action plans in collaboration with local stakeholders is often a key initial step for strategic, effective and locally supported conservation of freshwater species and habitats.
Images (L to R): Mike Baltzer; Madagascar rainbow fish (Adobe Stock); Eleanor Adamson
“Based on the analysis of the work we’ve done for the IUCN Red List – where we look at the specific threats for each species we are assessing – the biggest threat is the loss and degradation of habitat. For example, about 75% of the world’s inland wetlands have been lost, just in the last century.”
Will Darwall, Head of the Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, IUCN Global Species Programme
The value of knowledge
Partner Profile: IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit
The Freshwater Biodiversity Unit of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is working to inform and promote the conservation of freshwater species through providing robust and comprehensive data about their conservation status and the most important sites for these species.
The Freshwater Biodiversity Unit is comprised of some of the most knowledgeable and dedicated freshwater scientists worldwide and their work is, quite literally, putting freshwater species on the map. The IUCN is a leading provider of biodiversity knowledge to guide action on the ground, convene conservation planning and develop advocacy tools.
Synchronicity Earth has supported the IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit since 2013. Our funding is giving a vital boost to the team’s work, enabling new and innovative projects to gain traction. It is also ensuring that information and fundraising products can be developed and that freshwater biodiversity conservation agendas can be raised at international conferences and events.
Key Biodiversity Areas
How do we know what we need to protect?
Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are defined as ‘sites that contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity’. They represent a common framework to identify the places on Earth that are most important for nature conservation. There is a strong argument that freshwater environments need KBAs more than any other. Since 1970, 35% of the world’s wetlands have been lost, disappearing at a rate three times faster than forests. KBAs may be of particular value to freshwater environments through:
- Facilitating Sustainable Development: KBAs can help to ensure that infrastructure development and resource extraction does not come at the expense of freshwater biodiversity. A comprehensive network of KBAs would inform governments and investors of the ecological value of sites ahead of time.
- Improved Species Conservation: Site-specific conservation is important for freshwater biodiversity as many species are adapted to specific habitats with very restricted geographical ranges, often confined to a single lake or drainage basin. KBAs will help to ensure freshwater species cannot be ignored or sidelined as in the past as KBAs offer a common currency for conservation whereby even species with less public appeal are still given the same importance.
- Creating Freshwater Conservation Areas: Freshwater ecosystems are underrepresented within protected area networks. KBAs provide governments with a tool to prioritise sites for inclusion within these networks.