Press releases

Monday 22 Mar 1999

Freshwater Biodiversity Report released on World Day for Water, 22 March 1999

Nairobi, 22 March 1999 - World Day for Water celebrates the importance of water - for people not just for drinking and washing, but also as a source of food and biodiversity. In a new report released today, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) identify priority areas where conservation action is needed to retain the diversity of fish, molluscs and crustaceans - key sources of food to people world-wide.

"Freshwater Biodiversity: a preliminary global assessment" identifies the African Great Lakes, Madagascar, Tasmania, the Mississippi basin and Lake Titicaca amongst 23 "hotspots" of freshwater biodiversity. Freshwater ecosystems have come under severe pressure in the past 25 years - even more than the much-publicised plight of the world's forests. "Freshwater Biodiversity" catalogues the scale of the problem for the first time -- and indicates where to start taking action.

Action for freshwaters means taking a "watershed" approach - tackling river basins as a whole, particularly where they cross international boundaries. Thirty priority river basins that support high biodiversity but are vulnerable to future pressures are listed in the report. Amongst them are the Nile, the Volta, the Irrawaddy and the Mekong.

"National and international institutions aiming to preserve the diversity of freshwater life for all its services to people will benefit from this UNEP/WCMC analysis," said WCMC's Brian Groombridge, co-author of the report. "Freshwaters are fundamental to human life and wildlife - action to conserve their diversity and maintain their productivity is well overdue. International co-operation is needed to protect the world's great rivers and lakes." The report will be distributed widely to encourage nations to tackle freshwater issues in their national action plans for biodiversity.

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To obtain a copy of Freshwater Biodiversity: a preliminary global assessment, please contact WCMC for an order form.
Email: info@wcmc.org.uk
or Fax: +44 1223 277136.
The report costs pounds 15 sterling plus postage and packing. Discounts are available to non-profit institutions. Preparation of the report was made possible by generous support from freshwater scientists and conservationists worldwide. Particular thanks go to members of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.

For further information on the study or WCMC please contact:
Laura Battlebury,
Press Office,
World Conservation Monitoring Centre
219 Huntingdon Road,
Cambridge,
UK
Tel: +44 (0)1223 277314, Fax: +44 (0)1223 277136,
Email: laura.battlebury@wcmc.org.uk

For more information on World Day for Water go to UNEP's Home Page
http://www.unep.org

UNEP Information Note 1999/9

Monday 22 Mar 1999
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