Freshwater Life

Water is the bloodstream of the biosphere.

Well preserved freshwater habitats deliver essential functions such as the provision of drinking water, the natural purification of pollutants, flood control, protection against erosion and climate regulation across different landscape scales.

Healthy aquatic ecosystems are defined by their water quality and quantity, their connectivity, the habitat conditions and their animal and plant diversity.

Freshwater habitats, such as lakes, rivers and wetlands, are a source of life for our world.
Potamogeton natans ©Willem Kolvoort
Freshwater biodiversity has suffered an enormous decline since 1970. The populations of freshwater species have plunged an 83% (Living Planet Report, WWF 2018)

Freshwater ecosystems are the habitat for more than 100.000 known species of fishes, mollusks, reptiles, insects, plants and mammals. Even though they occupy less than 1% of the Earth’s surface, they are home to a third of all vertebrates.

They are the Earth’s most threatened habitats, affected by fragmentation and destruction; invasive species; overfishing; pollution; forestry practices; hydraulic infrastructures; water extractions and climate change.

Wetlands have been reduced in more than 50% since 1900. The tendency for all freshwater species is alarming. Freshwater fishes are the vertebrates that have suffered the highest extinction rate during the 20th century.

Freshwater Living Planet Index WWF 2018
In the case of Catalonia, “almost all wetlands are negatively influenced by human activity” (ICHN, 2010).

According to the latest Report on the State of the Environment of Catalonia (2011-2015), the ecological state of rivers would have worsened significantly between 2010 and 2015 (provisional data on 60.5% of water bodies) ; the percentage of bodies of groundwater in good condition went from 51% in 2012 to 41% in 2015, due to a deterioration in their chemical quality; Reserves that had a good or near good status went from 84% in 2012 to 57% in 2015, and have worsened in global terms (provisional data on 87% of controls).