Freshwater conservation: Lost in limnology?

Cécilia Barouillet*, Juan David González-Trujillo, Juergen Geist, Gísli M. Gíslason, Hans Peter Grossart, Kenneth Irvine, Sonja C. Jähnig, Philip J. Boon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although scientific research has identified the causes of undesirable ecological changes in fresh waters, translating the results of research into practical conservation and management, and raising awareness of the need for action, is often inadequate. This Viewpoint considers the present coverage of conservation-related freshwater research, the application of science to conservation, the extent of collaboration between international organizations, and the level of awareness of freshwater ecosystems and the need for their conservation. Far greater attention has been given to conservation in marine than freshwater areas. This is illustrated by the respective number of publications in the scientific literature, an imbalance in the UN Sustainable Development goals, and, until recently, the lack of an explicit reference to freshwater ecosystems in the UN Global Biodiversity Framework. Four case studies are presented as examples of how freshwater conservation can be made more effective: involving local communities in applying nature-based solutions; bringing scientists and stakeholders together to discuss how to improve freshwater management; collaborating at a global scale in freshwater protection and restoration; and demonstrating how scientists and government can work together to reconcile the competing needs of nature and human society. Producing and implementing effective conservation and management plans needs a recognition of the extensive diversity of freshwater habitats and species, as well as a systematic evaluation of how scientific information can be translated into action at local, regional and global scales. Data on freshwater ecosystems need to be accessible, comprehensible, unambiguous and available to all those working on practical conservation projects. Many international organizations are already active in this field, but greater collaboration would make their work more effective. Raising awareness needs education and training, carefully targeted at a wide range of audiences, and communicated using the full range of media now available.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Other keywords

  • awareness
  • conservation
  • education
  • freshwater
  • management
  • nature-based solutions
  • policy
  • protection


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