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Identifying and Protecting the World’s Last Free-Flowing Rivers

free flowing river

Around the world, WWF champions protected areas for charismatic species and the habitats in which they thrive. We think of elephants and rhinos roaming large parks, tigers navigating wilderness corridors, and whales swimming freely. Yet despite the fact that populations of freshwater species are declining faster than those of terrestrial or marine species, not enough is being done to protect their wild habitats.

Free-flowing rivers are the freshwater equivalent of wilderness areas. They are considered even more rare and imperiled than their terrestrial or marine counterparts.

There is no global consensus on the definition or status of free-flowing rivers, nor any global registry identifying where free-flowing rivers remain. No road map currently exists to provide important information on the location of these connected rivers. These gaps present challenges to monitoring the status of free-flowing rivers over time, and makes it difficult to secure the future of healthy freshwater systems.

WWF aims to change that. Together with academics and other civil society organizations, we are identifying the world’s remaining free-flowing rivers.