European Environment Agency (EEA)

Freshwater ecosystems


Courtesy of Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

Freshwater ecosystems in Europe are rich in biodiversity and provide essential ecosystem services to humans

Europe's freshwater ecosystems range from rivers, flood plains, lakes and ponds, marshes and peatlands, to man-made water bodies such as canals and reservoirs (EC, 2007a; EC, 2007b). They encompass a broad variety of wetlands. These different systems also interact with groundwater.

Around 250 species of macrophytes and 250 species of fish inhabit European inland surface waters and a significant number of birds, fish and mammals depend on wetlands for breeding or feeding (EC, 2007a).

Freshwater ecosystems deliver many important goods and services, including providing food, clean water, transporting wastewater, and controlling floods and erosion (IUCN, 2008).

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