10 Rivers most at Risk
What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt - it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.
Perhaps there was a time when that was true, but no longer.
The Indus, the Nile, the Murray-Darling, the Colorado... these are once mighty rivers that now struggle to touch their oceans and seas.
In fact, water extraction is only one of the daunting challenges that a river faces as it makes its way to its terminus.
- Dams and channelization destroy habitats, cut rivers off from their floodplains, and alter the natural ebb and flow on which a river’s plants and animals depend.
- Invasive species crowd a river's banks, driving out their native fishes, and choking their courses.
- Pollution fouls their waters, sometimes turning life-giving rivers into serious threats to human health.
- And climate change threatens to alter all the rules that rivers have lived by for thousands of years.
Fact: river basins are threatened and that threatens us
Rivers basins are the way nature gathers and delivers water for human use.
River basins provide electricity generation, transport, recreation and tourism, and valuable but often unaccounted flood and drought regulation, sediment and nutrient retention, and habitat for diverse fauna and flora.
Life that lives in and around these river basins is an important source of food, income, and livelihood. It is little surprise that studies have estimated the economic value of river basins in the billions of dollars.
We need to recognise the threats river basins face in order to encourage dialogue, provoke debate, and urge governments and other stakeholders to take action before it is too late.
The top 10 rivers at risk
To do this, WWF has selected the top 10 major rivers that, in our view, either
- already suffer most grievously under the weight of these threats, or
- are bracing for the heaviest impacts.
- dams and infrastructure,
- excessive water extraction,
- climate change,
- invasive species,
- over-fishing, and