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Water: stressed-out and overheated

Water is the basis of all life on earth, yet freshwater animals and plants are being lost faster than in any other ecosystem. The dominant causes are the many stressors that affect lakes, rivers and wetlands globally: habitat loss, over-fishing, invasions by alien species, dams, over-abstraction, many forms of pollution and increasing salinity. Fresh waters are also highly sensitive to climate change which now exacerbates all these other problems. With the sustainability of the biosphere and the needs of billions of people at risk, there is an urgent scientific challenge to understand the problems and seek long-term solutions.

Now, to initiate a series of scientific 'summits', some of the world's leading freshwater scientists will meet at the Freshwater Biological Association's (FBA) HQ on the shore of Windermere 1-4 September. The agenda is to consolidate evidence, raise awareness, launch an international call for action and influence those with responsibility for safeguarding the future of global fresh waters.

The meeting will be opened by Professor John Beddington, Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government, who will outline the importance of freshwater ecosystems in a changing world. "I'm delighted to be speaking at such a worthwhile conference which highlights the importance of freshwater ecosystems, such as rivers and lakes and the impact our activities have on them. We need to recognise the pressures that are placed on our freshwater resources. Pressures such as population increases, a changing climate, urbanisation, food production and fishing are interlinked and in many cases will collectively threaten vital freshwater resources", commented Professor Beddington. "It is not all doom and gloom however, I believe science and technology can play a key role in responding to these challenges, and this conference will be an important contribution to our understanding and mitigation of such issues."

Presentations will be given by speakers from Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and Europe.

This is a truly global issue. By bringing together leading experts from all over the world the FBA intends that the shared knowledge will lead to a clearer understanding of the consequences of the many different pressures being placed on key freshwater resources. The outcome of the meeting will be a position statement, endorsed by all the speakers, outlining the current state of scientific knowledge and identifying what action is needed to improve knowledge, understanding, policy and management strategies.


Contact: Christian Ripley

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