Member of the

Freshwater Information Platform

Freshwater biodiversity

Did you know?
Only 1% of the earth´s surface is covered with freshwaters but they are habitat for over 10% of all animals and over 35% of all vertebrates. The silent freshwater biodiversity crisis

No other major component of global biodiversity declines so fast and massively as freshwater species and ecosystems. In the 30 years between 1970 and 2000, populations of more than 300 selected freshwater species declined by ~55% while those of terrestrial and marine systems each declined by ~32%. Given the incomplete and fragmentary nature of our taxonomic knowledge of freshwater faunas and floras, current estimates of freshwater biodiversity and its decrease have to be considered as massively underestimated. Despite their pivotal ecological and economic importance, freshwater ecosystems have not been of primary concern in policy-making.

Freshwater biodiversity is the over-riding conservation priority during the International Decade for Action – "Water for Life", 2005 to 2015 (see right column for more information).

BioFresh aims to provide data, scientific progress and models that can be used to develop clear policy and management recommendations for freshwater conservation strategies.


Putting the pieces together

Scientists and water managers have collected vast amounts of data on freshwater biodiversity. Nonetheless it is often impossible to be certain of the geographic range of a species. Why is this? The existing data from all of these studies are widely dispersed, gathered in locally-managed databases, many of which are not publicly available. In summary, the pieces of the global freshwater biodiversity puzzle are scattered, and it is difficult even to find them. What a story they could they tell if all of the pieces were combined and easily accessible to scientists, policy makers and planners?

Such an integrated and accessible dataset will be used to improve and establish effective plans for conservation and for a better understanding of the services provided by aquatic ecosystems.

BioFresh will improve the capacity to protect and manage freshwater biodiversity

- by building an information platform as a gateway for scientific research on freshwater biodiversity.
- by raising awareness of the importance of freshwater biodiversity and its role in providing ecosystem services.
- by predicting the future responses of freshwater biodiversity to multiple stressors in the face of global change.

The Biofresh project has finished in 2014. These efforts are now being continued through extending the platform, widening its scope from biodiversity issues to all kinds of freshwater ecology, management and research topics. All major outcomes from BioFresh are now available on the Freshwater Information Platform.

Living Planet Index

The Living Planet Index is an indictaor of the state of the world's biodiversity: it measures trends in populations of vertebrate species living in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. Source WWF, UNEP-WCMC

Water for life - International Decade for Action