Southeast Queensland’s waterways provide over $10 billion annually in economic benefits through drinking water supply, fishing, tourism, and recreation. But these goods and services are under threat from intensive agricultural, urban development and climate change.
Restoring waterways cost-effectively
Freshwater habitats are critically important for a broad range of animals and plants (see the article, ‘the importance of freshwater habitat’) and they are in trouble. Worldwide these habitats are experiencing declines in biodiversity far greater than those being experienced in other terrestrial and marine ecosystems. New research involving EDG modelling is hoping to help managers identify how this decline might be best dealt with.
Freshwater habitats occupy less than 1% of the Earth’s surface, yet they contribute disproportionately to global biodiversity. They support approximately 10% of all known species, and one third of all vertebrates. Unfortunately, they are also under the hammer with many freshwater habitats being degraded by a range of processes including exotic invasions, eutrophication, over extraction (of water) and flow regulation.
In our story on “Turning up the heat on freshwater interactions” we discussed the importance of freshwater ecosystems, their parlous state, their vulnerability to climate change and the value of riparian restoration. In a recent review of the impacts of agricultural expansion in the tropics (Laurance et al., 2014), the plight of freshwater ecosystems was underscored.