All living things need water to survive, yet globally, freshwater ecosystems are among the most threatened. Rivers, lakes, ponds and floodplains harbour rich biodiversity including some of the most threatened wildlife in Wales such as the freshwater pearl mussel, salmon and water vole.

In Wales, only 44% of rivers are achieving good ecological status under the Water Framework Directive 2018 interim classification. A range of pressures are compromising the health of our freshwater ecosystems, including climate change, pollution, physical modification, abstraction and invasive non-native species.

The sustainable management of freshwater ecosystems is intimately linked with the neighbouring land within their catchments.

Freshwater ecosystems provide important ecosystem services including water supply, renewable energy production, flood management, waste disposal, fisheries and recreation. Balancing the use of these services with one another and the sustainable management of catchments is a significant challenge.

Our assessment

Download the SoNaRR2020: Freshwater chapter (PDF)

The chapter presents evidence on the state of freshwater ecosystems and the pressures affecting their health. It discusses the implications of this evidence on ecosystem resilience and ecosystem service provision. It also describes opportunities for achieving the sustainable management of freshwater ecosystems.

The Freshwater chapter's evidence needs are included in the overall evidence needs table.

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Related data, maps and reports that underpin SoNaRR 2020

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