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Freshwater

© Green Renaissance / WWF-US

WWF aims to ensure that freshwater ecosystems and their services sustain people and nature.

To achieve this goal by 2030 WWF will focus on achieving two closely linked outcomes:
  1. Healthy habitats and species. Double protection of freshwater habitats and stabilize populations of freshwater species through good management and restoration of freshwater habitats. Stabilizing freshwater species’ populations depends on securing their habitats. This requires stepping up protection of wetlands, while also halting their loss and degradation. Wetland habitats also need to be well managed;
  2. Clean flowing rivers. Maintain or restore the hydrological integrity and quality of the world’s rivers that are the most ecologically and economically important.

Rainfall is becoming increasingly unpredictable and this is threatening peoples’ food security, their livelihoods and their future.

© Hougaard Malan

The global state of concern and urgency around freshwater issues has never been greater. Catastrophic droughts and floods, crop failure and devastation of livestock, and water-stressed countries and cities, exacerbated by large scale development impacts from dams and declining water quality, make freshwater a global issue of the highest importance. A telling indicator is the devastating loss of freshwater species which have declined 35 per cent since 1970 – a loss worse than for species on land or in the seas.

Across Africa, most of the 1,2 billion people depend on farming methods that rely on rain – but the stable climate this made possible is changing. Rainfall is becoming increasingly unpredictable and this is threatening peoples’ food security, their livelihoods and their future. WWF has long prioritised the need to protect and sustainably manage freshwater ecosystems. In 1971, WWF helped establish the Ramsar Convention to promote freshwater conservation and protection for the world’s most important wetlands. In the last 20 years WWF has helped recognise more than 105 million hectares (ha) of globally significant wetlands – over half of which are in Africa, including Mozambique’s Zambezi River delta, and the world’s largest Ramsar site – the 6,5 million ha wetland complex of Ngiri-Tumba-Maindombe in the heart of the Congo River basin in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Two further priorities are the 2,500 km Zambezi River, vital to more than 38 million people in eight countries of southern Africa as well as the 52 million ha Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) conservation complex, and the Mara-Serengeti-Mau forest catchment shared by Kenya and Tanzania – vital to the conservation of the Serengeti, its peoples and wildlife. 

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© WWF / Simon Rawles