Fighting for freshwater species

Through evidence-based conservation work, we’ve been protecting freshwater species for more than 35 years.

As the UK’s charity for all freshwaters, our work helps a diverse range of plants and animals that live in many different types of habitats. These include many lesser known and threatened species, some of which are on the brink of extinction. Our species conservation projects are based on scientific evidence so we can target the places that will bring the greatest benefits for life in freshwater.

Species under threat

Life in freshwaters is under severe threat. Globally, these habitats and the species they support are among the most vulnerable parts of the natural world and there are widespread calls for new measures to protect freshwater biodiversity. In total, around 1,000 freshwater species are now listed as rare or threatened in the UK: a shocking 25% of all those assessed.

We’re committed to changing that. With our partners, we’re protecting the best habitats to reverse the decline in freshwater biodiversity. And we’re leading on innovative conservation projects to monitor and protect threatened species.

Discover the Freshwater Network
clubtailed dragonfly

Creating and restoring habitats for freshwater species

We know that freshwater plants and animals need a diverse range of aquatic and terrestrial habitats to thrive. To reverse the decline in freshwater biodiversity, we need to put clean water back in the countryside. And we need to expand the range of habitats that we prioritise for creation and restoration.

Small waterbodies are often overlooked but include many of the best remaining freshwaters. That’s because their small catchments are more likely to be non-intensively used, so they’re protected from pollution. We know from our own conservation work that it is relatively easy and cost-effective to create clean water ponds, which are quickly colonised by wildlife, including rare and threatened species. 

Freshwater species needs clean water to survive. Sadly this is now a scarce resource but we are committed to bringing clean water back to the landscape, by creating and restoring habitats for wildlife.

Plants growing on damp ground

Discover our freshwater species conservation work

We’re working across the country to protect rare and threatened freshwater species and understand more about their lifecycles.

Medicinal leech.
Medicinal Leech Recovery project

We’re taking urgent action to stop Britain’s Medicinal Leeches from going extinct.

Medicinal Leech Recovery Project
Great Crested Newt on a log.
Newt Conservation Partnership

A community benefit society to create and manage high quality habitat for Great Crested Newt.

Newt Conservation Partnership
Woman holding seedling with plant pot

We’re engaging with local communities to nurture rare and threatened plants to restore Oxfordshire’s wetland and freshwater habitats.

Hand wearing blue glove holding an eDNA test kit with a field behind.
PondNet eDNA surveys

We’re using pioneering Environmental DNA (eDNA) monitoring techniques to monitor Great Crested Newts and other aquatic animals in key locations across England.

PondNet eDNA surveys