Humans aren’t the only ones who depend on freshwater for survival. Freshwater ecosystems are rich in life. An estimated 12 percent of all animal species live in fresh water.
Freshwater systems occupy only 0.8 percent of Earth's surface, according to the World Resources Institute. And these limited water supplies are under threat.
The world's great rivers are drying up at an alarming rate. The glaciers and snow packs that have long supplied water to Canada’s Prairies are in retreat. Water levels in the Upper Great Lakes are falling. The consequences could be devastating for the humans and wildlife that depend on this precious resource to survive.
Across the continent, the picture is critically clear. The U.S. government projects that at least 36 states will face water shortages within five years because of a combination of rising temperatures, drought, population growth, urban sprawl, waste and excess.
Canada has some of the world’s most extensive fresh water resources. Approximately 8% of its territory is covered by lakes, and it has about 25% of the world's wetlands. But we cannot continue to take these resources for granted in the face of global warming.
Protected areas not only preserve freshwater sources, including the critical headwaters of important river systems, they also protect the land around them from becoming polluted.
Canada’s national park system remains incomplete and millions of hectares of wetlands have yet to be preserved. We must do more.