Major River Basins of the World
River basins are the hydrological units of the planet and as such play a critical role in the natural functioning of the Earth. While there have been advances in mapping river basins to facilitate analyses and inform basin management, information on river flow volumes, condition of freshwater habitats and species, as well as the degree of impact on rivers and freshwater biodiversity are still lacking for many parts of the world. This lack of information and, mostly a lack of appreciation for the intrinsic value and role that rivers and wetlands play in the well-being of millions of people, makes their conservation and sustainable management challenging in the face of development pressures and climate change. This chapter summarizes current status and trends in freshwater biodiversity, identifies threats to aquatic ecosystems, provides information of the ecosystem value of wetlands, and makes the case for an improved, and more integrated management and conservation of wetlands.
KeywordsRiver basins Freshwater Spatial data Biodiversity Ecosystem services Values Threats Protection Conservation
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