Can Rivers & Lakes be Saved from Environmental Degradation?

fish species are going extinct due to degradation of rivers and lakes
  • Environmental issues are degrading the freshwater ecosystem and fish species have become extinct
  • Protected areas don’t protect rivers. Rivers should be protected first than land areas.
  • The freshwater ecosystem provides habitat to 10% of all fish species including vertebrates.
  • Millions of people have their livelihood associated with freshwater fish species that are vulnerable to extinction due to the degradation of rivers.

 

The Colorado River was subjected to degradation by the states. The establishment of Grand Canyon National Park, huge dam construction across the River, and River water utilization for drinking and farming purposes accelerated the degradation process.

Invasive fish species like bass and catfish were introduced replacing endemic fish species such as chubs and suckers. Invasive species attracted anglers. The Colorado River turned into a trickle by the time and was not able to make its way to the sea.

The wetlands, lakes, and rivers are constantly experiencing environmental degradation due to invasive species, climate change, mining process, and loss of habitats, pollution, and construction of dams. 16 conservation organizations presented a report stating results that environmental issues are degrading the freshwater ecosystem and fish species have become extinct. Almost 86% of freshwater species have reduced since 1970.

This issue has not taken into consideration like plastic waste, deforestation, etc yet humans utilize freshwater resources for food, drinking, and other purposes. An unsuccessful approach for river protection is saving terrestrial land would save rivers in return.

The scientific studies indicated the importance of healthy rivers and now this issue is under consideration by conservationists. In order to protect the freshwater ecosystem, speedy efforts are required that are critical for the survival of living beings.

In the past, the terrestrial ecosystem has been given attention by establishing protected areas. A biodiversity expert, John Zablocki stated that it is difficult to find ways regarding rivers’ protection due to their complex structure of flowing.

A published study in Conservation Letters highlighted that the protected areas have 1,249 dams, some of which are under construction and upstream effects can cause degradation of rivers flowing through the protected areas. The government of Montenegro classified Zeta River as a Nature Park by the efforts of the organization under Zablocki.

New Zealand is the first country where rivers are treated as living entities followed by Bangladesh. The Lake Erie Bill of Rights has been passed by Toledo, Ohio aiming to acknowledge the rights of Nature. A freshwater scientist, Michele Thieme briefed that there is an immense need to develop various strategies in order to protect rivers from environmental degradation.

Campaign for Nature financed by Wyss Foundation, Switzerland involves oceans and lands but there is a possibility that rivers may get included in the list as pointed out by the director of the campaign, Brian O’Donnell. He said the biodiversity loss of the freshwater ecosystem has set an alarming situation that must be taken into account. National Geographic Society is supporting this campaign aiming to protect 30% of Earth in its original form before 2030.

The freshwater ecosystem provides habitat to 10% of all fish species including vertebrates although it counts as less than one percent of Earth’s water. There are 1300 species of crabs, 5700 species of dragonflies, and 270 species of turtles that inhabit freshwater ecosystems. Approximately 94% of the Mega fish population has reduced since 1970. Nearly 70% of wetlands have reduced since 1900. A report identified that only one-third of rivers on the Earth are flowing without human disturbances.

Millions of people have their livelihood associated with freshwater fish species that are vulnerable to extinction due to the degradation of rivers.

Freshwater experts suggested that an advanced global biodiversity agreement should be developed by UN Convention on Biological Diversity conference. The conference being held in China aims to protect and restore Earth’s wetlands, lakes, and rivers. Harrison of Conservation International said that this is the time to develop ways in order to save the freshwater ecosystems, otherwise, it will be too late to react.

Also, check out Climate Change and Himalayan Glacier Hazard

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