Freshwater ecosystems – rivers, lakes, wetlands – are the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. Despite this, conservation for these most precious systems receives a disproportionately low level of attention and funding. There is an urgent need for new and greater conservation effort.
Through our Freshwater Programme, Synchronicity Earth aims to support a dramatic increase in the number of on-the-ground projects contributing to the conservation of freshwater species.
We are catalysing action for freshwater species and habitats by:
Galvanising a global partnership for freshwater conservation action.
Participating in and providing funding towards the development of Shoal, a new global partnership seeking to catalyse freshwater fish conservation action on the ground. Synchronicity Earth is working with partners from the non-profit and for-profit sectors to develop this collaborative and pioneering new partnership.
Supporting conservation action for freshwater species.
Through Shoal, we will identify and initiate new and greater funding sources for freshwater species conservation. The initial focus is on Southeast Asia, a priority region for freshwater species and our Asian Species Programme.
Developing regional networks of expertise on conserving freshwater species.
Working with other freshwater species focused groups, for example, the Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP), to build capacity for those working on freshwater species conservation. Where support networks for freshwater species conservation already exist, we aim to support and where appropriate help to build those networks.
* Images (L to R): Tinfoil barb (Adobe stock); Rajeev Raghavan; Mike Baltzer
“With more than 60 species already extinct, 22% of the species (of over 7,600 species assessed for their conservation status) facing a high risk of extinction, and recent extinction rate estimates several hundred times higher than natural extinction rates, freshwater fish are truly a group ‘living on the edge’.”
Rajeev Raghavan, South Asia Coordinator for the IUCN Freshwater Fish Specialist Group
Empowering communities to protect species
Partner Profile: Yayasan Bumi Sawerigading (YBS)
Yayasan Bumi Sawerigading (YBS) is a non-profit organisation located in Sulawesi, Indonesia. It works towards a model of development for the island which is centred on community empowerment and environmental protection. We are supporting YBS in their work to conserve the Malili Lakes, one of the true freshwater wonders of the natural world boasting more than 100 species found only in their waters.
YBS have experience and expertise in watershed management, community engagement and participatory development. They were the lead partner in developing the Lake Mahalona Management Plan, along with other NGOs, local communities, the local government, and our fellow partner, IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit. The plan sets out how this lake can be conserved in a way which advances local development opportunities while maintaining a healthy environment for the scores of rare and unique freshwater species which call it home. We are now supporting YBS to begin implementing the recommended actions identified by the plan, such as fishing down populations of the invasive flowerhorn cichlid, developing agro-forestry systems in pepper plantations and pineapple processing to make value-added products.
Working together to conserve freshwater species
Targeted action to conserve freshwater biodiversity is currently lacking, as is funding and capacity. Yet there exists a huge community of companies and individuals involved and interested in the freshwater fish-keeping and angling sectors, as well as a large number of public aquaria.
Until now, little to no emphasis has been placed on bringing all these actors together, along with conservationists, scientists and the philanthropic community to try to tackle the freshwater biodiversity crisis. It is this paradox, between the appeal of freshwater fish and their critical conservation status which is the inspiration behind Shoal.
Shoal aims to shine a light on freshwater species, preventing their extinction and nurturing the recovery of threatened populations. The partnership will achieve this through supporting and implementing informed conservation action, developing the capacity of organisations to work on freshwater species conservation, and raising awareness about the crisis facing these species and their habitats.
“I think what freshwater conservation needs now – and some people are starting to wake up to this – is for the level of support to be brought into line with what you’ve got for tigers, pandas, orangutans and all the other species and habitats that get most of the attention, and I think Shoal is one way to start to do this.”
Jeremy Wade, Angler, author and TV presenter (River Monsters, Mighty Rivers)