Rivers and lakes
Rivers and lakes are the permanent freshwater inland surface waters, including water courses and water bodies. Around 250 species of macrophytes and 250 species of fish inhabit European inland surface waters, and a significant number of birds and mammals depend on freshwater wetlands for breeding or feeding. River ecosystems are among the most species-rich in temperate regions due to their naturally high habitat heterogeneity and connectivity.
Lakes, reservoirs, and other wetlands have an important function for river ecosystems by influencing water quality and quantity within the catchment area. Rivers themselves transport water and sediments downstream, thus preventing flooding of adjacent settlements and infrastructure within their natural river beds, and providing the structural, and nutrition background for downstream freshwater habitats. Thus, freshwater ecosystems provide many important goods and services including the provision of food, clean water, building materials, and flood and erosion control.
From the 233 habitat types listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive 19 can be classified as lake and river habitats. Some 179 species covered by the Habitats Directive are linked to lake and river ecosystems. Of this 33 % of lake and river reptiles and 22 % of mammals are threatened.
Figures from the EU 2010 Biodiversity Baseline
- Conservation status of habitat types in lake and river ecosystems
- Conservation status of species in lake and river ecosystems
- 10messages for 2010 – Freshwater ecosystems
- Riparian zones: where green and blue networks meet
- Water resources: quantity and flows - SOER 2010 thematic assessment
- Freshwater quality - SOER 2010 thematic assessment
- Commission staff working document on Climate Change and Water, Coasts and Marine Issues
- LIFE and Europe’s rivers