Lifeline for Africa’s freshwater species

09/06/2011

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Decision-makers across Africa are now able to benefit from an online interactive map, released by IUCN for each of the 7,079 river and lake sub-catchments across mainland Africa that reveals information on the distribution, conservation and ecological needs of 4,989 freshwater species, of which 21% are already threatened. This tool and the accompanying IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ report ‘The Diversity of Life in African Freshwaters: Underwater, Under Threat’ provide vital information to help plan development in ways that minimize or avoid impacts to freshwater species.

“This volume, and the data collated through the project, will greatly assist Ramsar Contracting Parties to identify new Ramsar Sites, to broaden their taxonomy coverage, and to help ensure the future wise use of wetlands in general,” says Anada Tiéga, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention.

Cadiscus aquaticus, Critically Endangered. Photo: Nick Helme

According to the report the number of threatened freshwater species in Africa will increase dramatically if development of water resources is not planned sustainably. Major threats include loss or degradation of habitat to agriculture, and impacts of new infrastructure such as dams for irrigation and hydropower.

Read IUCN’s press release here (also available in French and Arabic).

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