Biodiversity Conservation in Lake Watersheds

Most human communities that surround lakes depend heavily on lake biodiversity and natural lake processes for their water, food and way of life.  Many of the world's poorest people depend on freshwater biodiversity for their protein needs.  In Malawi, Lake Malawi provides 70% to 75% of the animal protein consumed by both urban and rural communities.

Lakes provide critical habitat for an amazing array of plants and animals including bacteria, fungi, algae, plankton, mussels, snails, crustaceans, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.  Lake biodiversity globally is severely threatened.  Currently 30% of freshwater fish and over 800 other freshwater species are on the brink of extinction (IUCN, 2002).  

A Strategy for Conserving Biological Diversity of the World’s Lakes

Biodiversity conservation of the world's lakes: A preliminary framework for identifying priorities
This LakeNet report identifies 250 lakes in 73 countries as initial priorities for biodiversity conservation based on UNEP, WWF and Ramsar data.  Although available data are very limited, these lakes support  globally significant fish, mollusc, crab, shrimp and bird biodiversity or they are representative examples of particularly rare types of lakes.

Lake Biodiversity Needs Assessment Survey

The Lake Biodiversity Needs Assessment Survey is a tool designed by LakeNet to help lake watershed organizations or governments assess their needs with regard to understanding and protecting their lake’s biodiversity and to identify possible areas of their programs that might be prioritized or strengthened.

The objective of the survey is to: 

List of Ramsar Sites with Lake Habitats

With data obtained from Wetlands International in October 2002, the LakeNet Secretariat has prepared a List of Ramsar "Wetlands of International Importance" with lake habitats.

Links and resources on lake biodiversity


Forgotten Waters: Freshwater & Marine Ecosystems in Africa
Strategies for biodiversity conservation & sustainable development, including assessments of biodiversity projects on the following lakes: Victoria, Tanganyika, Malawi, Chad and lakes in Madagascar.


Biodiversity stats and projects at Chilika Lake (India)

Freshwater biodiversity in Asia, with special reference to fish
World Bank document available for purchase ($22 US)

Mekong River Basin & Tonle Sap Lake

The biodiversity & management strategy of endemic fish species in Lake Towuti (Indonesia)


Conservation of biodiversity in the Lake District of Ohrid, Prespa & Prespa Minor (Albania, Macedonia, Greece)

North America

The Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Great Lakes Basin: Issues and Opportunities

Aquatic Conservation Initiative (Nature Conservancy)

Priority areas for conservation of aquatic biodiversity in the Western Great Lakes Basin

Lake Huron coastal biodiversity

The Canadian Biodiversity Web Site

Extinction rates of North American freshwater fauna
Article by A. Ricciardi & Joseph Rasmussen, Conservation Biology, Vol. 13, No. 5, October 1999

International agencies, treaties, conventions

Database of  World Bank biodiversity projects

Joint website for all biodiversity-related international conventions

Species Survival Commission 
Link to 110 IUCN specialty groups that focus on specific taxon of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles & amphibians, fish and invertebrates.

The economics of biodiversity
The Biodiversity Economics Library

Information focused on particular species/genus



List of threatened waterfowl species & sub-species


     Crayfish conservation (site is US-based but will be helpful to others working on similar issues)

     An example of a crayfish biodiversity action plan

Threats to lake biodiversity
Large dams & freshwater fish biodiversity

International Internet Debate on Biodiversity Education and Public Awareness (BEPA)
Managed by the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication
The 31 participants in the first round of the debate would welcome input from others in the second round. The questions posed for round 2 can be answered up until February 25th. Bepa-Online is being developed as an interactive and knowledge sharing site on biodiversity education and public awareness that will serve the needs of the Convention on Biological Diversity.