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Freshwater Biodiversity in the UK: a meeting on the status, threats and conservation concerns

September 17, 2012

Are you aware that freshwater ecosystems are facing are major crisis? Have you ever wondered why freshwater biodiversity matters? Or what we can do to help? A meeting on the 20th of September about freshwater biodiversity in the UK discusses these questions and more.

Photo: Creative Commons

Just 1% of the Earth’s surface is covered by freshwater, but they are home to over 10% of all animals and over 35% of all vertebrates. In addition, freshwater ecosystems provide many important services to humans. Yet freshwater biodiversity around the world is in serious decline to the point of a major biodiversity crisis.

In a first of its kind, University College London in conjunction with BioFresh and the Freshwater Biological Association, are bringing together key scientists, policy makers and freshwater managers to discuss the challenges of preventing further losses of freshwater biodiversity in the UK. Held on the 20th of September 2012 in the JZ Young Lecture Theatre, UCL, the day long meeting provides an opportunity to participate in discussions with and see presentations from a wider range of freshwater experts.

White-clawed crayfish, the only native crayfish in the UK. Photo: Environment Agency

Some of the key theme of the discussion will include:

  • The scale of freshwater biodiversity loss
  • The role of biodiversity in freshwater ecosystem functioning
  • Pressures on the biodiversity of standing and running waters
  • The importance of biodiversity to society
  • Freshwater biodiversity and conservation policy
  • Public understanding of freshwater biodiversity issues

The day will comprise a morning and afternoon session addressing issues such as freshwater biodiversity in the Anthropocene, the new conservation paradigm, the importance of biodiversity for ecosystem functioning and services, how to engage employees to conserve biodiversity and the role that museums can play in freshwater conservation. A list of confirmed speakers include Klement Tockner (Co-ordinator of BioFresh), Iwan Jones (QMUL), Carl Sayer (UCL), Nigel Wilby (Univ Stirling), Linda May (CEH Edinburgh), Stewart Clarke (Nature England), Cathy Purse (Thames Water), Jeremy Biggs (Pond Conservation), Mike Dobson (FBA), and Steve Brooks (Natural History Museum).

Lokia Erythromelas. Photo: Klaas-Douwe Dijkstra

In addition, there will be a panel discussion chaired by Paul Jepson from the University of Oxford aimed at bridging the two cultures of science and practice to better understand the needs of policy-makers. The panel discussion will be made up of freshwater managers and practitioners and will discuss a) how institutional policy drivers can help or hinder how science feeds into policy and b) how scientists can make their science more accessible and useful. Keeping with the theme of openness, this will be followed by a discussion with comments and question from the audience as well as a live twitterfall to increase interactivity.

The meeting will be an open discussion and we welcome participation. For more information and registration click here and for any other queries contact Martin Kernan: m.kernan@ucl.ac.uk

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