Navigating Murky Waters: Challenges and Approaches for Conservation Planning of Freshwater Ecosystems of India

Aravind N A, Madhushree Munsi, Roshmi Rekha Sarma  | January 2017


India has varied freshwater habitats ranging from rivers to high altitude lakes to man-made ecosystems such as paddy fields, ponds and reservoirs. Freshwater ecosystems are unique habitats for endemic and fragile flora and fauna, e.g., large Indian rivers harbour small populations of endangered river dolphins, gharial, freshwater oysters, etc., and streams and waterfalls harbour endemic snails such as species in the genera Paracrostoma and Crem-noconchos. These freshwater ecosystems also provide a range of ecosystem services. People depend on these systems for domestic water requirements, food, livelihood, navigation, waste assimilation, health, and for various cultural practices. Over the years, human dependence on freshwater ecosystems has rapidly increased, making these ecosystems and their biodiversity among the most threatened in the world. Conservation of freshwater biodiversity in India is still in its infancy.