Importance of freshwater habitats. Why are freshwater habitats important? Estuaries are important natural places. Access to fresh water is also important for economic development. Over 140,000 described species – including 55% of all fishes – rely on freshwater habitats for their survival. For example, freshwater sources enable the development of fisheries. People around the world harvest fish from these habitats, providing enough animal protein to feed 158 million people worldwide. 44% of Scotland’s internationally important blanket peat bog was lost to afforestation and drainage from the 1940s to the 1980s. In addition to essential habitats for birds, fish, insects, and other wildlife, estuaries provide goods and services that are economically and ecologically indispensable, such as commercial fishing and recreational opportunities. Why are wetlands important? However, freshwater species are going extinct more rapidly than terrestrial or marine species. They provide feeding, spawning and/or nursery areas for many species of freshwater fish. Providing a home for fish, plants, animals, and people, rivers are essential for the survival of many species—including our own. Over 10% of our freshwater and wetland species are threatened with extinction in the UK, and we’ve lost 90% of our wetland habitats in the last 100 years. In the last century we’ve lost so many of the world’s wetlands and their wildlife. Freshwater environments have been mismanaged, leading to pollution, drying rivers and damaged habitats. Wetlands are valuable for flood protection, water quality improvement, shoreline erosion control, natural products, recreation, and aesthetics. Freshwater is used by a wide variety of native plants and animals. Some of these are unique to New Zealand and often highly specialised to the habitats they are found in. Freshwater biodiversity is the over-riding conservation priority during the International Decade for Action – ‘Water for Life’ – 2005 to 2015. Freshwater ecosystems contribute to biodiversity, the economy, recreational opportunities, cultural significance and our well-being. Conservation for wildlife Species diversity. Most Americans live within a mile of a river or a stream. We rely on rivers for drinking water, irrigation, and more. Only 3% of the world's water is freshwater; that's all we have for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. Freshwater wetlands are an important habitat for fish, invertebrates, plants, and birds. The reasons for this dramatic loss include unsustainable farming and development practices, urbanisation and … We believe it’s possible to meet the freshwater needs of both people and nature – if water is managed wisely. Freshwater habitats are extremely important to humans. * Sources include State of Nature 2013, Wildlife Trusts and Freshwater Habitats Trust. Freshwater habitats face a multitude of threats, but it's not too late to save these environments. Fresh water makes up only 0.01% of the World's water and approximately 0.8% of the Earth's surface, yet this tiny fraction of global water supports at least 100000 species out of approximately 1.8 million – almost 6% of all described species. Freshwater wetlands. The wetlands support a diversity of plant communities including trees, rushes, reeds, or floating and submerged aquatic plants. Freshwater species are important to local ecosystems, provide sources of food and income to humans and are key to flood and erosion control. A pond can be defined as a body of water (normally fresh water, but occasionally brackish), which can vary in size between 1 square meter and 2 hectares (this is equivalent in size to about 2.5 football pitches), and which holds water for four months of the year or …