Summary of Key Findings

Results

  • 28.2% of the 877 northern African freshwater taxa assessed are threatened with extinction at the regional scale, with a further 9.5% assessed as Near Threatened and 14.1% as Data Deficient.
  • 18 freshwater taxa, previously present within the region, are Extinct at the global level, including one endemic fish, Salmo pallaryi, and 17 molluscs, the majority of which are native to the Palearctic northern African region (Maghreb). A further 32 species are Regionally Extinct, which means that they have disappeared from the region, but still exist in other parts of the world: 23 freshwater fish, 2 molluscs, 6 dragonflies and damselflies and 1 aquatic plant.
  • Freshwater molluscs and aquatic plants both show a high degree of regional endemism, with 81.5% of species endemic to the region.
  • Due to the limited number of river systems and wetland areas within the region, freshwater species are mainly concentrated in the Mediterranean Maghreb and the Nile River in Egypt, where the highest numbers of threatened species are also found.
  • Habitat loss and degradation, mainly due to water abstraction and dam construction, together with pollution, are the major causes of species decline.

Key messages

  • A major priority for the region is to reduce the currently high number of species assessed as “Data Deficient” due to insufficient information on their current status and distributions. This requires new initiatives to conduct field surveys in the least known areas. This current lack of information on so many species represents a significant bottleneck in progress towards the effective management and conservation of the regions wetland biodiversity.
  • The priority areas identified as centres of freshwater biodiversity and threat can help focus development and conservation actions in ways which aim to minimise impacts to freshwater species throughout the region.
  • The involvement of communities with a stake in the long-term future of freshwater species and habitats across the region is critical to the success of conservation planning in order to assure the future sustainability of livelihoods, as well as the resources and services provided by functioning wetland ecosystems.